Khao Yai Part 2 – National Parkour

So when I left off, we had just started our jungle trek.


Our hike a few weeks back in Ko Samet was pretty cool, but in terms of ruggedness this was far superior. This was raw, unadulterated jungle; place was bananas. We had to wear long, canvas socks the tour guide provided us so that we didn’t get AIDS from the forest leeches. The “trails” we walked were just parts of forest that had space to walk. We had to crouch under branches or step over forest growth on several occasions. There were spiders so big that we saw a truck trapped in a web one time. True story!

…okay, not true but they was some big spiders. We also saw trees that killed other trees by crushing their trunks.

Not a joke. Apparently, its scientific name is the “Wayne Brady” tree.

So after plenty of walking, we reached this massive, massive, massive tree where we took a pit stop to eat snacks and chill while Lek (the aforementioned guide) went off to respond to the cal of nature. I tried to climb the tree, but there were too many spiderwebs and too much moisture and I didn’t want to terrify my compadres by dangling 40 feet above their heads.

Lek comes back from using the bathroom with a “present” for us. He has is tucked tightly in his shirt and allows us to touch it to guess what it is. I thought it was a chicken foot or something, which would’ve been a pretty strange present. Wasn’t a chicken foot, though.

Pictured (from left to right): A scorpion.

Instead of something we could eat or pet, Lek brought us something we could be victimized by. He didn’t even go to the bathroom! He’d gone to the scorpion’s house, baited it out (he explained the technique he used to attract it, which was pretty cool), then brought it back to show it to us.

Wait, did I say show it to us? I meant attach it to us.

Lek would periodically blow on it to make it move because a still scorpion isn’t scary enough, I guess.

We each got the scorpion treatment and handled it pretty well for sissy Americans (excluding Jordan’s four simultaneous heart attacks). In addition to putting it on us, Lek showed us this cool trick where he put the scorpion to sleep by covering it in his hands. Really weird and really nifty. He also explained that the big, black scorpions are pretty docile and that the smaller, brown ones are the ones we should worry about. When we asked if he’d ever been stung by a black one, his response was “Oh yeah, quite often.”

As the long-awaited moment came where we got to finally leave the jungle, Lek stopped. “Chameleon,” he said. He hunched down and began to wave his hands over the ground like a shaman or David Copperfield.

Now, understand our mental state. All day, Lek has been terrorizing us all day with snakes and scorpions. And each time, he would pretend everything was cool then throw some terrible creature in our face and laugh like a pastor’s daughter on Christmas. So we were all pretty nervous when he stopped. There was no chameleon in sight, and it seemed like another trick. He waves his hands around some more, then makes a sudden grabbing motion and stands up with a flourish of his hands and a stir of drifting autumn leaves.

Nothing. We all stare at him, but there’s clearly nothing in his hands. “Lek, what did yo-

“Oooohhh….you meant THAT chameleon…”

So we actually, really, seriously leave the jungle after that and emerge into this surreal landscape of the tallest, greenest field captured on film since Planet Earth was released on Blu-Ray.

It wasn’t all fun and beauty, tho. We also had to help the Von Trapp family escape.

This led us to a lunch break in some clearing with a watchtower where Kelsey taught me and Jordan gymnastics. I did a front hand spring! And I also broke my back.

From the fields, we went to check out one of Khao Yai’s many waterfalls. This might have been the highlight of the trip for me, and that’s saying a lot. Not because the waterfall was particularly beautiful or anything…

Even though it was.

…but because there were rocks EVERYWHERE and they were slippery and I could run and jump across them perilously. Felt like Batman running through Gotham. I shoulda videotaped it as my audition for Ninja Warrior. Gah…it was awesome. I even missed the group picture we took in front of the falls because I got too excited and started prancing across the rocks.

From foreground to background: Me, Jordan, Kelsey, Katie and Adam. They put up with my frolicking shenanigans and joined me shortly after.

We left the falls and made our way back to the truck for a final ride through the park in the hopes of seeing elephants or some other cool animals. We’re almost back to the rooms when our driver starts screaming in Thai. I’m pretty confused. The truck stops quickly and Lek comes running up to join us in the truckbed.

“Elephants!” he says.

I turn to find a family of seven elephants crashing through the trees (they’re not charging, but they’re elephants so it counts as crashing) onto our street.

Animal Fun Fact #74: Elephants don’t look both ways before crossing the street.

We drove a bit further up the street to give Mama ‘Phant and her brood a bit of space and we came right into contact with…

“Huh. What are those grey shapes in the distance? Lek! Bring me your telescope.”

More elephants! Elephants in front of us! Elephants behind us! It was exciting because there were elephants everywhere, but it was terrifying because there were elephants everywhere. City-slickers like us tend to assume that non-carnivorous animals aren’t super dangerous (Jordan: Lek, can we pet them?), but these elephants looked like they were death row inmates compared to the elephants we’d seen previously in Thailand (Lek: No, they will kick your ass!). They were wild and angry and several hundred pounds heavier than the nearest vehicle.

Luckily, their hunger drive overrode their murder drive, so we stayed out of their way and the street family joined the bigger family in the salt licks and all was well with the world.

We went on to enjoy a great dinner back at the hotel, learn more about Lek, and go to sleep with dreams of sugarplums and scorpions dancing in our heads.

A fitting end to an amazing day.


What I’m Reading: The Once and Future King by T.H. White

What I’m Writing: The Lincoln Lions (working title) – 24%

What I’m Listening To: Echoes of Silence and House of Balloons, both by The Weeknd


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