Morning boat ride!
I’m so glad that I
had a great opportunity to join this trip with Kevin Callahan and Trevin
Ward. I read the itinerary and I though
this trip is so perfect for me, and when I looked at the sign up sheet and it
was available I immediately sent an email to Kevin and he said “I’m the one who can fit on this
trip”! At the end of the trip the three
of us worked together as a team and got along very well. And we had a great 24 students who were very
easy going and willing to do everything.
Of course we have to thank Mr. Thom Henley, Khun Pat, Khun A and Jakha who
planned our trip and made everything work so smoothly. We came back with a ton
of smiles and ton of great experiences, which we’ll never forget.
On our first day we
had to travel by overnight train from Hua Lamphong railway station to
Suratthani. It’s been over 13 years
since I traveled by train in Thailand, mostly because it takes forever to get
to anywhere. But anyway everybody got on
this train on time. It wasn’t as bad as
I thought it would be. It was actually
nice and I slept on the bunk bed. I slept like a baby. Our high school students were having a great time.
Friendly Train Attendants!
We were supposed to
arrive at 5:45 am. But we got there around
6:30 am. That isn’t surprising to me at
all. Everyone got of the train safely
then we met with our three new brothers.
At first we they tried to greet us by handing roses to every one of
us. But for some reason some of us
didn’t know who they were, and we even said “we don’t want your roses.” That was pretty funny! We had a great laugh about this at the end of
Waiating at the Hua Lamphong train staion.
Endless food services on the Suatthani Express!
He had a breakfast
neat Suratthani train station and hit the road to Ratchaprapha dam. We got to introduce ourselves to everyone and
shared what we wanted to learn and what worried us about this trip. Our brothers (It’s our three lovely guides:
Khun A, Khun Petch and Ja Kha) were telling us how will they were going to
operate on this trip.
We're introducing or selves and getting to kow some background.
Breath in some fresh air in Ratchaprapa dam.
We got to Chiew Lan
Lake which is the launching point to get deeper in to Khao Sok National Park by
water. Or you can get to the park buy
buses from Surat Thani to Takua Pa in Phang-nga province near Krabi. We took two of the pretty good-sized Long
Tailed boats transporting 27 students from our school plus our three guides. It was a pretty big group so we had to take
two boats which is a good idea in case one boat died or got stuck so we can
have somebody to help us.
This ride is one of
the most amazing boat rides that I have ever done. It took about 50 minutes to our
raft-houses. But I was very impressed
with all the limestone rock formations built up around the Chiew Lan Lak. And it went on and on but I never got tired
of it. Khao Sok National Park is a very
big national park. It’s land area about
739 km2, have so many trails to explore. Khao Sok National Park has the biggest
primary forest in Southern Thailand.
An amzing 50 mintues boat ride!
The park is very
diverse with oldgrowth rainforest and has many wildlife species to offer. Many mammals to see - for example
White-handed gibbons, Spectacled Langur, Long-tailed and Pig-tailed Macaque,
Wild Boar, Slow Loris, Asian Elephant, Sambar Deer, Mouse Deer, Muntjac or
Barking Deer, Banteng, Guar, Civet species, Tiger, Clouded Leopard and many
more species of bats. A lot of birds,
reptiles, moths, insects and plants too.
It’s a very great place for people
who want to do their
field science projects in this area. The
price here is still reasonable for most Thai people and foreigners. There were a couple things that were really
hard for me here however - the trees were so high up and dense. It was really difficult to spot or photograph
wildlife. But other than that it was a
fantastic trip. We finally arrived at
Klong Krat Raft House. It’s a beautiful
This is the
raft-house that we were staying for two nights.
I woke up in the
morning with gibbon calls!
I still don’t believe
that I ever made it here finally. It’s
so close to my hometown Nakhon Si Thammarat, but I never had chance or a
perfect time to be here. It’s just like
a dream for people who love to be with nature.
The lodge that we stayed is very nice.
We owned the whole place and it just nice that we could enjoy
eachother’s company. I got to spend a
lot of time with the crew workers for the lodge and got to speak my original
language (Southern Thai) which made me feel like I was home with my family. They shared the hard core Southern food and
fruits to me. There was some of the
fruit that I hadn’t seen for a decade.
We had some lunch and
had fun for a couple hours, our high school kids and the adults got to go swimming,
jumping into the lake, kayaking and Frisbee golf. While we were having such a fun activity we
were able to enjoy a sounds of nature at the same time.
This guy was hanging
around our lodge all day long!
Our students were
having a great time!
Kayaking around Chiew
Jumping in to the lake!
An amazing formation
This place is such a treat for us. We had to walk around 30 minutes to get to
the raft pier. The trail is kind of up
and down. But it’s not too far. You can do some bird watching and mammal watching
along the trail. This place can have a lot of tourists and is very popular for
both Thai and foreigners. After a short
hike we arrived to the bamboo raft pier.
I wasn’t sure how strong of the bamboo raft was. But I set on it anywhere. You got to cross somehow. I guess our adventure had just begun!
we were getting on the bamboo raft on the way to Coral
Are we going to make it?
This is one of
the most beautiful caves I have ever been inside. The local guide took us. This lake was formed for over 20 years ago
from a random flood which resulted in a big lake with 80 meters depth of fresh
water. The reason that made the cave
have so many colors and shape is from rain pour down on the leaves and crevaces for many years.
After we visited the Coral Cave Khun A was planing for
our students to have a “Spirit Walk”.
Every student had to stop about every 70 meters for 10 minutes long. They can
observe nature or do some meditation.
They had to be very quiet and be without their friends.
I walked past about 10 students on the trail. I would say 60% of them paid attention to the
life around them and anoter 40% didn’t know what to do.
Hold on tight!
Such a beautiful lizard!
Found this guy along the trail!
At least he left his shell for me to take a photo!
It would be nice if I get to see a live one!
Before I got here my main target species was a Slow
Loris. I looked around where we were
going to do our night safari, it was pretty hard! The trees here are pretty high up. I didn’t think we would see them. Well I just gave it a try that was in my
mind. We divided to two groups, two
boat went to a difference direction.
It was a pretty quitet night! The sound of the long tailed boat was very
loud. I still got some hope. Saw a couple nightjars, but no civets. And finally almost to the end of our safari,
we saw a very bright eyes. I knew those
eyes very well. I was trying to hard to
have a great look but the tree was very hight up. Kevin got a flash light I got a heavy camera
and we had to look up for about 10 minutes.
This Slow Loris wasn’t that slow that night. He was moving back and forth so fast. We weren’t giving up. My boat driver wasn’t giving up either! He really wanted me to get this
picture. He had no idea what he was
looking at. Our group was seeing the
Slow Loris thatran back and forth. Our
necks were killing us! Oh I wish the
have a Thai Massage waiting for us back at our lodge.
Got one! This is the best picture that I could get!
Well at least I got to show one of the world’s most primitive
primates to our students. We headed
back to our lodge after our successful night in the jungle. We asked the other boat and they said they
didn’t see anything. That’s a pity! It’s part of your luck too. If you get lucky you can see a lot in the
wild area. I talked to the local people
at the lodge, and they all said the best time to see the wildlife you have to
get up around 6:00 AM and at that time we could be more productive. But to me night time and early morning it the
best time for a mammals to come out.
Anyway I arranged for a second night safari anyway even if they were
tring to talk me out of it.
Such a beautiful moring. We were waking up with a gibbon calls and
birds were singing. The water in the
lake was so calm and the sun was rising...
I was waking up with a beautiful sunrise!
We were were getting ready for our moning safari. We hoped to show our students a White-handed Gibbons, Dusky Leaf Monkeys or
Spectacled Langurs, Great Horbills, Oriental Pied Hornbill and many more…
Our moring safari!
Hanging out with Khun A and my both drivier!
We had a very
productive moring. We saw Spectacled Langurs
hanging out very high up and far away.
White-handed Gibbons wish were swinging very fast of cause and
impassible to get a good picture or a even a good look at it. We saw about 10 – 15 of Great Hornbills were
flying from very distance, Oriental – pied Hornbill and Eagles.
Khao Sok national park have a lot of tall trees, so hard to photograph the wildlife.
Grey-headed Fish Eagle
Oriental – pied Hornbill!
Looks like he was waitng for me!
Such a nice drive!
I wish we can do this everyday!
So we’re back for our breakfast and getting ready for another adventure
in the cave. We are supposedly use our
imagination that we are in the Indiana Jone’s movie. This trip is getting better and better. I felt young again.
Nam Thalu Cave
Ashy Roundleaf Bat - Hipposideros cineraceus
We had to take a boat ride for about 50 minutes before
getting to the starting point. You could
see the wildlfe along the way. We saw
the Long – tailed Macaques jumping up and down on the bamboo bushes and some of
the Eagles hunting the fish in the water.
We didn’t know what kind of eagle.
I didn’t get a good look at it.
We started the trail around 10:00 am. There wasn’t too many people on the trail yet
but on the way back around 2:00 pm. all the tourists started to coming in. Just make sure that you start your hike early
when you inside this amazing cave you can own your great experience to yourself.
The trail to Nam Thalu Cave is very easy and
level. The inside of the forest was
pretty nice and cool. I had no sweat at
all on that hike. I stayed behind the
group with Khun Pat and JaKha. It was
very nice to walk with both of them. So
we were looking for anything interesting in this rainforest. I want to document what I saw and then share
my discoveries with my group. I knew a lot
of the students will not see what we saw.
This one as big as my hand!
Thailand has so many butterfly species and I think in
Febuary you still catch some of the big groups that hang out together.
They’re just hanging out!
Good place for a drink!
What an amazing mix of leps just hanging out next to the stream. Khun Pat directed me to come this way. I’m glad they let me get close. In this rainforest there were a lot of
amazing plants and insects.
I fould rock fomation which look just like
the Tsingy de Bemmaraha Nature Reserve… (See our pictures HERE) But luckily it wasn’t hot as the one in
Kevin’s climbing up the rocks!
Such a treat to be in Khao Sok National Park!
We finally got to Nam Tha Lu Cave perfect for our
lunch break where we found a nice spot for our lunch. Everybody had a pack lunch. We
thanked Khun A, Khun Pat and JaKha for bringing lunch and fruits to us.
Distributing our pack lunch!
While we were having lunch we found this little frog
he was maybe only less than 1” long. He
was so beautiful and very cooperative.
And we saw a river crab too.
We started to walk in to the cave. The reason whe they called it “Nam Thalu”
cave was because the cave has water going all the way thought the cave. In the raining season it’s impossible to get
through, as the water level way too high.
There have been some incidents
already with unlucky trekkers. A lot of
them came from the tourists who didn’t hire a guilde and didn’t know that the
water inside the cave could get higher for the short period of time in the
raining season. You can get trapped in
there. The best thing to survive is
climb up to the higher rocks inside the cave.
But many people have died in there.
For the first half of the cave we saw a lot of insects
and at least three species of bats. And
almost to the way out our students saw Striped cave racer snake swimming across
This Nam Thalu is the most amzing cave that I have
ever been! You really felt like you
were in the Indiana Jones movie. After
about half an hour of walking we tried to take as many bat pictures as many as
I could. Khun A finally called me and
JaKha to be ready for a wet part in the cave.
I had to pack up my camera gear in the waterproof back. I was a little bit afraid because I had no
idea how deep the water was going to
be. Luckily Khun A volunteered to
carry my backpack.
Black-beared Tomb Bat
At the beginning of the trail the water wasn’t too
deep - maybe a little be above my knees.
But later it was getting deeper and deeper. The highest water level on this hike was
around my chest. It wasn’t too bad after
all. It felt nice actually…
Almost to the end of our jorney one group of students saw a Striped cave racer snake. Most of us missed it. We finally made it. We finally made it out safely and we had to continue our walked to the boats.
Back to the Klong Krat Raft House for a dinner and night safari. The safari this evening was only going to go in one boat. This will be students' choice to come on a night safari this time. We ended up had 6 students - the die-Hard.
Our second night safari was really special night for all of us who were on the boat. Our boat driver turned off the boat engine and let the boat float. We could see the stars and could hear the wildlife sounds. The moon was trying to break away from the clounds! What a very peaceful ride it was. We didn't see any mammals but saw a couple birds. What a great memory to end up our trip in Khao Sok National Park.
Next day we were going to Karo Island is located in Ao Luek, Krabi. School planned to have our students to put in their community service hours. Our students will be planting a mangrove forest on the island. But first, on the way out from Khao Sok National Park to Ratchaprapa Dam all the sudden our boat propeller broke off. But we were alllmost to the dam! Luckily we got anouther boat behind us as so many boats were driving in and out. I don't know how that happened. Maybe it's the age of the props....
Here comes our help!
We made it to the dam but we still got about couple hours to Ao Luek, Krabi. The drive went pretty smooth. We got to our resort around lunch time. We were freshning up and we were ready to go visit another amazing place.
Karos Island! Never heard of this place before, and I've never been to Ao Luek. But here I am with my 24 students, my two great colleaques, the brothers and Thom Henley.
We were so lucky to have Thom joined us on this trip for four full days. Thom has known so many amazing places in Thailand. Thom's very easy going and is well known as an avid environmentalist, human-rights advocate, and educator. Thom has written many books about Southeast Asia and Thailand in particular. For more information please visit http://www.thomhenley.com/
Our original plan here was to plant mangrove trees first and go kayak later. But the plan changed to kayaking first. The tide would be low when we come back and then is when we would have time to plant the forest.
Army of kayakers!
Kayaking around Karos Island!
Wow! Spectacular limestone formations. When we were kayaking along the Ghost cliffs, we could see so many petrography a long those rocks. Probably due to the tropical climate these are hard to find in Thailand. So many interesting shapes of limestone in the region. Our guide said the water when we were there was a little low. The best time to come has to be at high tide, so you could get out and walk inside the Skull Stone cliff. Overall it was just beautiful! You could get a workout and enjoy the nature at the same time. I highly recommend this areas.
Skeleton Stone Cliff
Monkey and Human!
It does look like a human face but our local guide said it looks like a fish!
Two Face Ghost!
It's depends on the sun - if it's the morning sun the ghost will be sad and if's the afternoon sun the ghost will be smile and happy.
On the way back to the pier out students had to work very hard. They had to fight to the currents with very long distant. Some of them had to give up and tag along with us.
were back to the pier we took off earlier. The Crab-eating macaques
were waiting for our arrival. Lcukily they were very peaceful and not
They wanted to know what we were doing
Now we were getting to our serious work here! Our goal was to plant 1000 mangrove trees. But we have arrived to Ao Luek late, so we could only plant 300 mangrove trees. Students were having a so much fun in the mud and helping eachother planting the mangrove forest. No one was too worried about dirtiness or too tired after kayaking against the currents. Thom told us that the goverment was trying to do the eco tourism. They stared to build the bridge for tourists to walk cross all the mud. While they were building this walkway they put the heavy equipment along the side way. So they really did some damage to the ecosystem.
Thom has arranged many schools to come here and help the village planting the mangrove forest. It's really important to have a mangrove tree on the seashore. When I was growing up back in 1985 I still remembered the whole seashore area having massive shrimp farms. It went on an on for miles. I didn't know at all how it effected our environment. Moreover I don't think the Tiger prowns have any good taste at all. Now the Thai govermnet seems to want to save the mangrove forest and provided budgets for the villagers to help restore the habitat.
24 students helping plant the mangrove forest!
The mangrove forest around Alina!
The mangrove trees it will be around one meter high for this
kind of mangrove trees will grow up to 80 feet in height with straight trunk
and narrow top or head. After sprouting,
we will not see much growth in the first year.
Prop roots appear by the third or fourth year of growth, serving as
anchoring and breathing organs.
All we need is our hands and our mind to safe this planet!
Can somebody help!
Our mission is finished!
Too bad be didn’t have enough time to succeed in our goal of planting
1,000 trees. We cleaned ourselves up and
got ready for our big dinner!
Ton Te waterfall
Our next destination is Phatthalung province. But on the way we were stopping at Ton Te
waterfall in Trang. We didn’t know what
to expect at this place. When we
arrived there. Thom gave us the lecture
about this place and what are we were going to do next. We got to enjoy our
little hike to waterfall. I found a cool
beehive on the giant tree. That was
pretty awesome. I spent for almost 20
minutes with them.
Ton Te waterfall!
We’re kicking back after having fun at the waterfall!
Lunch break at the waterfall. Thank you Khun Phat for provided our lunch.
After we finished our lunch Thom have some plans for
us. We got to learn about science,
environment and invertebrates. We
collected and Identified invertebrates, tested the quality of the water
(chemical, pH), and competed which team could collect the most of the
invertebrates. This was supper fun! We got to know how clean water was and we
collected so many new species in this waterfall.
Thom was giving a lecture to our high school students.
Collected the water in the stream by using Ammonia
Look at this amazing mouth!
Little Waterfall Crab!
Common Net – spinner
Dobson fly larva
Three teams were sharing their result!
Wildlife Sanctuary Phatthalung
We stopped at this place to show our students some of the
wildlife that Thailand has to offer!
There most of our students had never seen any of these wildlife. They have so many Jungle fowls, Peacocks,
Brahminy Kites, many Chevortains or Lessor Mouse-deer, Greater Mouse-deer,
Indian Muntjacs or Barking Deer, Samba Deer, Binturongs and many more.
We stopped at the Peacock’s cage. This on was pretty interesting! All the sudden one of the male Peacock was
spreading his tail feathers. That was
beautiful. I got a couple interesting
pictures while he was doing that inside the cage.
We found a little tiny lizard Calcite versicolor. I was playing with him for a little while.
We stopped at The Mani people village near Wildlife
Sanctuary Phatthalung. Thom has known
this family for many years. The Mani
people felt very comfortable to be around foreigners like us. The Mani people are Homo sapiens like
us. They were traveling from Africa and
settling in Thailand for many years ago.
You might have known them as “The Negrito of Thailand” or “forest
People”. The way they live is very
simple. They live around the Banthad
Mountains and around the Malaysia border in Trang, Phatthalung and Sutun. They would use the bamboo trunks and banana
leaves to built their houses. They hunt
the animals, wild potatoes and eat any fruits that they could find. They used and made their own medicines. Some of them could be used for cancer. What we saw that day was similar to the
African life. But they seemed to find
better materials to build their houses.
But for the food supplies, the African will find them easier. The Mani people were wearing normal clothes
just like us and they could speak Southern Thailand and Tonga language. There are not too many Mani people
left. They are facing extinction. The population right now would be about 300
Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve
Our next place is the wetland. We learned another kind of eco system. Thale Noi is very protected by the villagers
from Phatthalung province. This wetland
got started by the fishermen from around the area. They known that if the birds got hunt or the
environment was destroyed on this wetland, they will not be able to catch any
fish. So they went up to the Phatthalung
government and told them that they will be the one to protect this park. And they really did a good job protecting
this Waterbird Park. They made this
place be the first non-hunting area ever found in Thailand.
Now the people over this area have made a decent income by
have a long tail boats to take tourists out into the wetland. And along side of the road you would find all
kind of dried-fish and souvenirs for sale.
We were staying a very nice resort called Lampan Resort
Hotel is located next to the Lam Pam River.
We walked at night to Saen Suk Lampam beach wish you could have chance to
see a River dolphins. I heard there are
only five left in Thailand.
We started it of around 7:30 am in the morning to the
original fishing village near Thale Noi.
This fishing village has been using this fishing style for many
generations. This fishing village was
using the square dip net method. It’s
really common in Khuan-Khanun district.
Our students got to try!
This man will walking up and down the leader to control the
net. And the net will dip in the water
went you stand to the right hand side.
When you’re walking up to the left side our next to the edge, the net
will lift up. It will take about three
to five minutes depends on the level of water.
Two sweet ladies from a fishing village in Khuan – Khanun
After we spent about on hour in the fishing village. We learned the old fishing ways that came in
with the Sri Lanka influence. It was
quite of worked out after all. We got to
the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve about 8:30 am.
The light was already too bright for photography! I gave it a try. And this will be my first time to shoot the
photos on the long tail boat with a pretty fast speed. I got set and enjoyed the ride. It was time to get to work this time!
Thale Noi was filled with Lilly flowers were beautiful pink
along the ride!
Here was one of the Long-tailed boat that we got on. The seat was a little low and very hard to
sit for a long hours.
Purple Swamphen was standing above the grass!
I loved it when the Black-winged Stilts were standing one
After the boat ride we had lunch at the local fish
market. We got to look around the
market. The most of the product came
here locally. They had a lot of dried
fish for sure.
I stop and chatted with on old lady who could be a little
younger than my Grandma who already passed away years ago already. This lady was selling the betel nuts. She divided a perfect amount for people to
buy her products. I was looking at her
tool that she made the betel nuts ready to eat for the old people.
I felt like home again when I visited to this place. I got to use my southern Language. And it was really helpful on this trip. And people were very friendly when I spoke
In Phattalung province started the Shadow puppet art from
many years ago. These Shadow Puppets
have now spread to many provinces around Southern Thailand. I grew up with Shadow Puppets too. When I was a kid I used to have at lease 3 of
the famous characters. Ai Thang, Ai
Thong and one of the girl’s character.
My brother and I made our own screen and played. There were good days.
This man was making the shadow puppets with cowhide. He has been doing this since he was 20 years
old. I ordered the tiger puppet without
color. It came out very nice. If you’re walking on this street you will
find many local products along this side of the road. These prices here were very decent. I bought one handmade mat for 250 baht. That was very a good price!