I had heard about Elephant Nature Park a while ago…
Khao Sok is an area of pristine rainforest and limestone mountains in Southern Thailand. I had only heard about it a few days before I arrived but it seemed like a good midway point between the islands of the Andaman Sea and those of the Gulf of Thailand. I had a few days before needing to be in Koh Pha-Ngan for my full moon reservations so I booked four nights in a bungalow. There are limited accommodation options in Khao Sok. I was pretty stoked to have a room to myself as I had been staying almost exclusively in dorms for the past 5 weeks. By the time I arrived I was very thankful for having booked a private room.
It came on slowly after breakfast on the day I was leaving for Khao Sok. A mild queasiness and discomfort in my stomach. Not something you want when you’re facing five hours on a bus. When I arrived I sequestered myself in my room. I really wasn’t feeling good and I was starting to feel hot and get a headache and I had no appetite. It was at this point that I started to worry. Could it be dengue or malaria? I had been bitten a lot a few days prior while I was staying on Koh Phi Phi so the incubation period was right. I was in a place that was at least an hour drive from the closest medical attention. I didn’t want to jump to the worst case scenario. My symptoms also matched for dehydration and I was very dehydrated. I hadn’t been drinking more than maybe a glass of juice a day for the last few days. I had a water bottle with me but it had become a hassle to use because it leaks. So I had given up on using it but hadn’t bought any bottled water instead. After a few days of this coupled with only getting a maximum of three hours sleep per night for the previous week I couldn’t be too surprised that I was sick. I dragged myself to the closest minimart and bought two 1.5L bottles of water. I made myself drink one of them over the next hour and then I started on the other one. I crawled into bed with the feverish hope that I was right. That I was just dehydrated and sleep deprived. Maybe a stomach bug as well.
I slept like the dead for about 13 hours. When I woke up my fever and headache were gone. I still had the stomach cramps but I was so relieved that was it. If I had dengue or malaria I would have become worse. I still needed to hydrate so I finished the last of the water I had and went back to the minimart for two more big bottles of water and for some food since I had my appetite back. I spent the day in bed only leaving the room for food. I have to admit this was not how I imagined spending my time in such a beautiful place. I wasn’t very happy that I was wasting my time there watching movies on my computer in my room. But my health had to come first. I wanted to make sure I was on the mend before attempting anything too strenuous, like hiking. By my second last night there I felt that I would be up to some sightseeing. I did try to book a guided night walk but again I came up against the solo hurdle. Minimum 2 pax. Those words have become a bane on my travels in South East Asia. So I skipped the guided tour and decided to just walk the trail in the park the next morning.
It costs 200baht to get into the park. Once you’ve paid that is valid for 24 hours. There is only one main trail from this side of the park. From that trail you can reach different water falls and swimming spots along the river. I didn’t want to push myself too hard so I took it slow, taking photos and looking for any animals or interesting plants along the way. There are elephants in the park but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any. I did see a lot of evidence of their presence in the form of broken bamboo and cane along the road though. Possibly I would have had a better chance if I had gone in the evening instead of the morning. I did happen across a snake on the path though. He was very small; maybe a metre in length. I wasn’t sure if he was a venomous kind so I gave him a wide berth and kept up the trail.
After a while I came to a little sign on the side of the trail pointing to a path to a swimming hole. I decided to have a look. For the most part the trail was ok. It very much reminded me of the time I spent in the jungle in Costa Rica. Thin winding path with “stairs” made out of tree roots and mud. I did lose my footing and end up on my ass at one point. Luckily there was no one around to see! I didn’t spend long by the river. I hadn’t worn my swim suit but I was very tempted to go swimming. It’s hot work walking through the jungle. Instead I just spent enough time there to catch my breath and watch a big white and orange butterfly flutter around. I made sure to take extra care going back up the path. I didn’t want to fall over again.
I only followed the road as far as the first waterfall. It was a lovely spot on the river but I would use the term waterfall loosely. It was more like a lot of big rocks with water running between them on a slight incline. By that point I had been in the park for a couple of hours. I still wasn’t feeling 100% either so I decided to turn back after seeing the waterfall so that I could get some water and food and rest some more. It only took a fraction of the time to walk back since I wasn’t stopping to snap pictures or look closely for small animals amongst the foliage.
Overall I was pretty disappointed by my time in Khao Sok. Not because of the place at all but because I wasn’t really able to make the most of my days there. It is definitely somewhere that I want to come back to and do properly including a night at one of the lake bungalows and a few tours if I can find someone to come with me. I did make the most of the hammock on my balcony though. Small consolation for me.