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Home before dark?
Bangkok (Thailand), December 5th 2008

It is 12:30 p.m. and we have got a beautiful afternoon ahead of us. After the nice morning hike of this morning, we are going to walk the 4.9 kilometre Nong Phak Chi trail on a slow pace to be able to do some bird watching. At the end of the trail, we will get back on the paved road again so we can walk back to our bungalow. At least, that is how we interpret the brochure of Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. At first, this is also the way it seems to be. We walk through the beautiful forest and after only minutes we see already a nice turtle from up close. Even though we are walking during the hottest hours of the day, still we see a lot of birds. The Red-Headed Trogon and the Banded Kingfisher are some of the colourful species that show themselves to us.

A hitch in the Khao Yai National Park

The trail is easy to follow and to make it even clearer red marks are attached to trees along the trail. After almost 2 months that we haven’t walked, it is nice to walk up and down some hills slopes again. When we approach the top of a small hill, we hear a load roar followed by a load sniffing sound. Curiously to know what animal made this sound, we run to the top of the hill. Unfortunately, we can’t find the mystery animal. No elephant, leopard, tiger or buffalo that wants to show himself to us. While walking around in the national park, you don’t have the feeling that you can find yourself face to face with one of these mighty animals. But if you are very lucky, you can! Once we can feel the adrenaline pumping through our veins, namely when a 4 centimetres thick snake slithers away which is only half a metre in front of us.

It is already past 4 p.m. when we see a sign that says that we have only 500 metres to go before we arrive at the paved road. Hence, walking while watching birds goes slowly. We keep following the path, but suddenly the red markings stop. The path forks a few times, but all forks end at a river. We have got the feeling that we have to cross the river but without a detailed map we aren’t sure and we also don’t know where we should cross it. We retrace our steps to the last markings of the trail to search whether we missed any pointers but that isn’t the case. We walk back to the river where Edwin puts off his shoes and removes his trousers to wade through the river. He hopes to find the place where the path continues. He finds several paths, but none of them have the red markings. After Edwin is back, the decision is easily made. We are walking back on the same path that brought us here as fast as we can. At 5:45 p.m. it is already dark and that moment is only less than an hour away. We don’t fancy a night in the jungle, because in the dark it is much easier to imagine what kind of animals roam around. Fortunately, we carry a flashlight with us but we know that it will be much more difficult to orientate ourselves with only the help of a torch. Therefore, we target to get back at the paved road before the dark.

Hiking through the dense forests of Khao Yai
Walking a little bit less than 5 kilometres on a paved road is easily done within an hour, but the case is different on this jungle trail. While we keep on scrabbling, thorns get their hold on our trousers. As a consequence, our trousers are thorn on several places but that is something to fix at a later point in time. Luckily, at 5:50 p.m. we see the lights of the National Park’s headquarter. The restaurant is still open and we can refill our energy with a cold Coke and a spicy chicken curry with rice. When we get back in our bungalow, we make an assessment of the damage. Two thorn trousers, Edwin’s heels are wounded because of walking with wet feet and four leeches for Edwin and one for Ivonne. This only bothers us a little when we are taking a nice hot shower and even less when we are laying under the warm quilt. We have ended a nice day in a sportingly way and we are rewarded by not having to stay overnight in the jungle. Certainly, it isn’t as adventurous but in the end we prefer lying in a nice warm bed with filled stomachs over sitting long hours shivering under a tree with only half a bottle of water and a bag of peanuts to share.

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