After the dive trip, May was nice enough to give us a ride to Khao Sok National Park. On the way, we made a couple of detours to see small waterfalls. (Even May thought the signs leading to them were confusing, so that made me feel a little better about how lost and confused Brad and I sometimes get.) We were taking pictures and enjoying the second one when Brad suddenly said, “There’s a leech on my foot.” That ended our time at the waterfall pretty quickly.
Once we got into curvy mountain roads, we started seeing many spirit houses on the side of the road. Spirit houses are miniature houses built for the spirits to live in. They almost look like Asian dollhouses. May explained that all houses and buildings have a spirit house in them and they are also built where people die in car accidents, so their spirits have somewhere to go. Apparently we were on a dangerous road.
Khao Sok is a huge park, but because it’s notorious for having so many leeches, we decided to only go to the leech-free area of Cheow Lan Lake. I don’t know why, but for some reason I was just expecting a small lake in the woods, like you would see in northern Wisconsin. I was pleasantly shocked to find a huge lake ringed by sheer limestone cliffs and jungle. It took over an hour to reach our accommodation: a rafthouse.
Small villages of rafthouses are moored all along the lake. They are literally small bamboo huts floating on the water. The place we stayed had newer, nicer looking houses along with the bamboo huts, but they were of course too expensive for us. Our hut just had a mattress on the floor and a fan that only worked when the electricity was turned on between 6:00 PM and midnight. I could see the lake through cracks in the floor and walls. Luckily we had a mosquito net with us, or it would have been pretty unbearable. Besides the huts, there was a small eating area, a toilet, and a bucket of water and scoop for bathing. That was about it.
Despite the ramshackle accommodation, we had a great time just relaxing and enjoying the scenery there for a couple of days. We could paddle around in free canoes whenever we felt like it, but we spent most of our time reading and swimming. The water was very clean and refreshing. Occasionally we could hear gibbons hooting and fish splashing along with the typical bird calls. It stormed both nights, so we just sat in our little hut, looking at the lightning and listening to the thunder echo back and forth among the cliffs.
I was a little nervous about getting back down to Phuket for our flight to Chiang Mai, but everything went smoothly. A little too smoothly, actually–we got to the airport six hours before our flight left! Oh well, at least we didn’t have to feel frazzled. We’ll get a post up about Chiang Mai soon, but in the meantime, check out Brad’s pictures from Khao Sok.