35 km from Prachuap Khiri Khan is Namtok Huay Yang National Park where a 7-tier waterfall is the main attraction. It’s not far from the border considering that here is where the Thai territory narrows down to only 11 km from the coast of the Gulf of Thailand to Myanmar.
We rented a car (1000 bath/day) and after visiting the border market in Darn Singkorn in the early morning we drove to this national park where we paid 230 bath entrance fee (100 bath per person + 30 bath for the car).
Though we read that it’s a 7 level waterfall, we couldn’t find a way to go beyond level 5.
Almost every level has a bathing pools and every pool is full of small fish that will swim with you. 🐟 🐟
The park is very well maintained and very clean and you will can find some guards around, keeping an eye on the visitors and helping you if you have doubts about the paths.
At the entrance there is a camping site and a small restaurant selling cold drinks and Thai snacks.
It definitely worth a visit.
A big positive surprise was visiting Kuiburi National Park. A small national park southwest of Khao Sam Roi Yot. In Kuiburi or Kui Buri Nation lives one of Thailand's largest herds of wild elephants (around 230 animals according to Lonely Planet, rangers couldn't confirm the number).
You just need to be aware that it not a zoo and that spotting wildlife can take a long time and it may not happen at all. You have to be patient, very patient. Otherwise it'd be better to interact with tamed elephants in Chiang Mai province, where you can even have a bath with them.
We visited the park I a rainy day (by suggestion of the operator arranging the transfer in spite of we wanted to go the following day expected to be drier and warmer. Visits are arranged at the park office and you have to accompanied by a ranger and a driver.
We drove in the park for hours and see nothing besides some water buffalos in the distance. And after hours of waiting at the different observation points we spotted 3 adult and 2 young elephants among the trees some 400-500 meters away. Very disappointing indeed.
It was raining and some of the vehicles started to drive back to the park office because the visitors wanted to leave. Fortunately we were one of the last groups leaving the observation point. And I say fortunately because then it happened.
A big family of wild elephants crossing our path, massive, surrounding by white egrets, moving slowly towards us and passing in front of us. It was amazing to see them, majestic. And the most awesome was that they were not performing for tourists, they were just living their lives in the jungle. And we, just mere observers.
It was a pity for those who left the park earlier, out of patience.
They missed them.
Waiting for the elephants: photo by Gus Martinié ©
I heard this story from a friend who is passionate about photography.
He was traveling in the north of Thailand for some days before arriving in Chiang Mai.
It was his second time in the area and he wanted to go hiking in the hills and visit some of the hill tribes.
The point is that photographers use to have a different schedule from the rest of the travelers. They like to work with the first light in the morning -this means starting at dawn- and also to work a little more at sunset -and this means to work late and have very late dinner. Most of the photographers I know also like to work in solitude.
This was the main reason why he was looking for a trusted local specialized operator, who can offer private services -to avoid group activities- and a good local guide.
And someone recommended one, located in a tiny alley in the historical center of Chiang Mai where he booked private services for a 2-day trekking in the hills. The appointed guide was a local young man from the Karen tribes, born in the hills.
All what he wished.
On day one, he was promised to be guided through the hills to fabulous viewpoints that only locals knew. And there he went climbing hills up and down during some 3 hours. The supposed first viewpoint on the top of a hill resulted a no-viewpoint at all. There was nothing to see but high and leafy trees set in a thick rainforest. Lovely nature but not and impressive panoramic view.
Same happened with the second view point. Then three and a half hours they reached another hilltop and… there were no path to follow anymore. The young local guide from the Karen tribes, born in the hills was lost. To keep the story short, they had to go down the hill as they could, ending in the back garden of very small a Buddhist temple, not far from where they have started. They have walked a very long circle in the mountains during the whole afternoon and now it was starting to get dark.
Young but resourceful, the guide hired some local drivers to take my friends in their scooters through the muddy paths of the mountain up to the village where they were supposed to sleep. 🏍
- Those who you hire as expert hill-tribe born guides can get lost too
- Any hike in the mountains can end in a biking ride
This is a note about the difference between organizing the trip back through the resort in Ko Libong or just do it yourself.
We checked the prices for our transfer from the resort in Ko Libong to the bus terminal in Prang with the front desk. Differences were enormous even when you compared the private services. For example, on our way to the resort we took a private minivan between Trang and Hat Yao pier and we paid 600 bath. The hotel wanted to charge us 1200 bath for the same service.
The total amount for the transfer service from the resort in Ko Libong to Trang offered by the resort was over 2300 bath for two persons.
We decided to go on our own and it went very very smooth.
Considering that it was low season we guessed that there would be less frequencies between the island and the mainland so we left the hotel at 08:30h to the island pier (300 bath). By 08:50h we were at the island quay buying the tickets (100 bath each) for a long-tail boat that left at 09:00h.
We arrived at Hat Yao at 9:45 and then we took a minivan leaving at 10:00 to Trang. The fare was 80 bath each. We got to the railway station around 11:00h.
The total cost was only 330 bath each… and it took us 2:30 hours, no long waits.
- Resorts can be very overpriced
Near the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar or what's known today as the Golden Triangle (originally it was referred to designate a broader area where opium was produced) is the Hall of Opium, a multimedia exhibition established by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation just one kilometre north of Sop Ruak.
The museum, an initiative of the kingdom of Thailand, gives account of the fascinating history of opium and development of the trade in Asia in the XVIII century and after and revisit the causes of the 2 Opium Wars (the Western powers against China) and their consequences.
It also includes informative displays on the effects of abuse on individuals and society.
The visit is quite interesting and worth investigating.
The exhibition is well balanced and highly recommendable.
Photo: Opium poppy, by SuperFantastic, http://flickr.com/photos/superfantastic/68321333/
We met Rico during one of our usual stops at PTT tank stations (they have good coffee shops -Amazon Café- and convenient 7-eleven stores to refill our water and snacks supplies).
To be exact, we didn't meet Rico but his unusual baggage. A low wheeled cart with a hard suitcase attached and topped with a solar panel.
The curious cart was parked next to our car. We studied it for some minutes and then went to grab some food at 7-eleven.
We were somewhere between
It was almost noon, we were somewhere between Chiang Khan and the central plain and we were hungry.
We walked out of the shop with our food when we saw him. A tall young man eating an ice cream (it was nearly 36 C.
He was Rico and we can chat briefly.
Rico is a German young man who has been walking for two years. Yes you read well, 2 years and he's planning to walk another 3 before getting home.
In these 2 years he has walked from his native Germany to this spot in the middle of Thailand where we met. Most of the times he camps on the roadsides or if the conditions are bad he sleeps at hospitable people's homes or monasteries.
He told us that he only flew once to avoid walking in Afghanistan.
And also that the Iranian people are the most hospitable.
He crossed deserts at unbelievable temperatures, ancient rivers incredible wide, rainforests and mountain ranges all on foot.
Tropical depression Sonca also hit him as he walked in Thailand (as it hit us as well ) and he looked for shelter in a Buddhist monastery.
We were not told the powerful reason or the motivation that keeps Rico walking but we found he's admirable.
He plans to walk Australia east coast and also across Canada and USA before ending the walk back in Germany.
This is his website if you want to know more about him and support his long "long walk": www.ricoslongwalk.de or Facebook group: rico's long walk
- Being on the road always gets you to find weird things and surprising people.
This morning we are moving from Hat Yai to Trang to cross to the islands in the Andaman Sea.
From the hotel we came by tuk-tuk (60 baths) to the bus station in the southern part of the city. This is where the buses to Phuket depart from. It was early in the morning and it was not hard to find the minibuses going to Trang. In fact, we were literally conduced to them after saying just "Trang".
We both slept very well last night so it happened that this morning we didn't have 100 bath face but 170 bath.
That was the price the minivan drivers offer us, per person. Plus an additional 170 bath for the luggage though we knew that the price was just 100 bath.
Besides considering whether it was a fair price or not, the 70 bath difference wouldn't be significant if you covert it to euros (around 2,50€) but here came the discovery (that we haven't found in our travel guides):
There are also regular buses between Trang and Hat Yai, much more spacious than a minivan and with airco.
The price is only 209 bath per person (luggage included) and tu don't need to travel tightly packed in a full minivan.
So here we are, on our way to Trang and then to the islands in the Andaman sea. And the sun is shining.
- Don't panic if everything around you is in Thai language and you cannot understand
- Be cautious with free-lance people in the bus/train stations
- Use the tourist information desks when you are in doubt
- Check other alternatives before accepting what seems "non-negotiable" conditions