Khao Suk

We arrived at the Khao Suk rainforest reserve around 4pm, and were a little disappointed. Then we opened our bags and realized mine and Vida’s were soaked through. My bag had only my clothes and Riley’s and literally just about everything was soaked in salt water… even the freshly laundered clothes in plastic bags. Oh well. We set everything out to dry all around the room (which was challenging given that there was almost nothing to hang it on). The room was hot and muggy and a bit dank. The bed was solid and hard (no bouncing for Riley) with one thin sheet over the mattress and a scratchy blanket. The mosquitos were in full effect but luckily there were nets over the beds. We were expecting a bit more rainforest and wildness… this more just undeveloped. We decided to walk around and everyone’s mood picked up quickly. We wandered until we found a bar in the woods (Funky Monkey of course) where you can also incidentally get a tattoo. We stopped for a quick fruity cocktail then headed back since it was starting to get dark.

In the 70’s someone had the bright idea of building a dam and making a huge lake in Khao Sok. The few prior inhabitants were (happily) paid and relocated, and then employed running the longtail boats and other assorted jobs resulting from the new wave of tourism. The result is quite spectacular. In the morning we drove to the lake and then took a longtail to a floating raft lodge on the far end of the lake. It was about an hour ride, but with the scenery it passed quickly. Just before we arrived our guides took the boat into a little inlet and shut off the motor so we could check out the wildlife (there was a gibbon flying through the trees, but most of us missed it).

As we went the last little bit to the lodge, Riley’s hat flew off her head and into the water. There was a bit of excitement as we brought the boat around and tried to fish it out with a paddle, but it had already disappeared under the water. Before I knew it Elise dove in and disappeared under the water, surfacing triumphantly 20 seconds later, hat in hand. Yay!

The floating lodge was awesome. A string of 20 or 30 little floating huts reached across a small cove, with a little restaurant at the end and a little bridge and trail leading up the shore to some simple toilets. The huts were simple (bamboo, mat floors), but clean. The best part was that you could jump off the walkway into the warm, refreshing, and deep water for a swim, or just sit on your little porch staring at the crazy mountains across the way. Heavenly.

After some lazy time in the water and lounging about, we had some lunch and took a short boat ride further down the lake to a trail head. A short hike (maybe a mile?) over the hill and through the forest brought us to another dock, were we got on another boat (this time made entirely of bamboo!) for a short cruise across another part of the lake to a limestone cave into the side of the cliff. The cave itself wasn’t especially deep (maybe 200 feet?) but it opened into a number of large caverns, with an assortment of stalagtites and -mites and other cool formations. Riley seemed to like it, as long as all the lights didn’t go out at once. There was another family (German… we saw a lot of Germans in Thailand) a bit behind us with a pair of little boys who were going crazy, reminding us how mellow Riley is.

On the return boat ride back to the dock we stopped along the cliffs and watched a family of monkeys flying through the trees. Riley got a kick out of that (“The monkeys are crazy!”). On the hike back our guide made Riley a hat out of some ginormous leaves (which she liked, but not quite enough to wear). He really redeemed himself in her eyes when he gave her some (Thai) basil growing along the path, which she scarfed down in no time. She loves Thai basil. And most other
leaves or spices you give to her, strangely enough, despite being pretty picking about more conventional prepared foods or strange fruits.

The next morning we woke up early for a morning swim, had a leisurely breakfast, and took the boat back to civilization. Some 7 hours later we eventually made our way back to Mom Tri’s in Phuket for one last night in Thailand before heading to Cambodia. We made the most of it: an hour on the beach and in the pool, a beachside dinner at the Boathouse Grill, a walk up and down the strip along Kata beach, and then another couple hours on the beach the next morning. Did we mention Riley likes the beach? Not so much the water… the waves are a bit scary. But nothing beats the sand and a few sand toys. And maybe some water to pour on everything. Yep.

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