After an early wake up call, I managed to get myself to the train station for my departure to Pak Chong, the city used most frequently as a departure point to Khao Yai National Park. While I waited I consumed a portion of Pad Thai for breakfast, careless about the order of meals. Soon after I was in Pak Chong, besides the obvious delay, which is practically the norm in Thailand. If you are on time, you are in fact early. Anyways, I was lost as far as where to go since I had no idea how to get to the park or where to stay the night. Just as confused and out of place as them, I met two people from France, a guy and girl, who had no accommodation as well so we figured why not join forces in our pursuit to find a way or get lost together. After some loitering and bartering, we got a taxi to Greenleaf Guesthouse, which was highly recommended by my guidebook. A kind Thai man used his phone to help me get in contact with the guesthouse and I found out it was all booked up. Either way we went in that direction hoping they could help us out with something nearby. Packed into a ‘taxi’, or rather a long pickup truck bed filled with at least a dozen people easily, we proceeded down the road towards Khao Yai. After arriving at Greenleaf Guesthouse, we talked to a man in charge who told us about a fairly priced tour package to the park for one and a half days and then pointed us in the direction of another guesthouse just down the street. Garden Lodge welcomed us with a funky, tasty and authentic Thai tea before showing us the available rooms. After some discussion amongst ourselves (speaking of which, the guy knew some basic English while the girl knew very little, but either way we grew comfortable with each other over our limited time together), we decided to book two nights in a room with a queen bed and a single for 450/night, which is a total score considering how nice and accommodating the place is. Again how crazy does that sound to meet some strangers one morning and then end up sharing a room later that evening. After settling in, we went back to Greenleaf to guarantee our place for the half day evening tour to see the bat caves and spring water swimming hole. I felt like a traitor ditching our guesthouse’s tour package but we ended up finding the best of both worlds out here. I only bring that up due to the fact that I tried to explain to the Frenchman the concept of a traitor. First, I tried to explain cheating (as in, on someone) but that ran into a dead end. On the way to the swimming hole, we met others who we would be spending time with over the next couple days, including three Belgian girls, who helped bridge the gap with my French friends, two Czech brothers, a English lad, and a girl from Alaska, who apparently had spent the past two nights in the same room I stayed in Ayutthaya (what a small, crazy world it can be). The swimming hole was fresh, clear, and most importantly relaxing, but the real draw of the evening was the bat caves. In the caves, our very informative, well spoken Thai guide showed us some critters that would make the average person’s skin crawl. Apparently monks come in the evening to pray and reflect by the shrines in the dark; you couldn’t pay me enough to perform such an act. The caves were loaded with bats all clinging to the cave’s ceiling, chattering and shitting away. After leaving the cave we were taken to a spot where we got to see two million bats leave the cave in pursuit of their evening’s breakfast. Swarms of black figures flooded the sun-setting sky, circling and wavering like a tornado turned snake as a cyclone would, flicking back and forth in a wavelike motion. I expected the explosion of bats leaving the cave to end quite rapidly but the continuous wave of bats entering the horizon seemed to never end. Our guide even introduced us to popping seeds but didn’t give us the name until afterwards. I placed the seeds under my tongue and waited until enough of my saliva got absorbed into the seeds and popped like a firecracker, creating a weird sensation. Back at Greenleaf we all reconvened for some tasty Thai food, beer, and more than enough stories and laughter to carry the night. I don’t know what it is, whether it may be the type of people that travel or the environment in which we are in, but I have met and formed such quick friendships with people that seems polar opposite of what I could find in America. Most likely I have simply come into my own and become more receptive to people and the experiences I have come across. No matter the reason, I am as happy as can be. For having little clue as to what to do and where to go once in Khao Yai, everything could not have gone more smoothly. Maybe I am lucky or possibly travel savvy; either way things have managed to come together quite nicely.
Thailand Day 68: A Series of Fortunate Events