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Khao Sok National Park

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Sasha

Khao Sok National Park from On UR Way Travel on Vimeo.

When I went to Thailand in July 2009 I absolutely fell in love with the country as indeed I think most people do!  Although I loved everywhere I went for its own unique quirks my absolute favorite place was Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand.

After having spend a fantastic yet tiring week in the chaos and noise of Bangkok, escaping into the quite seclusion of the lush Thai jungle was a welcome relief.  The region is absolutely stunning, completely breathtaking.  It was so humbling to be completely surrounded by nature, to hear the birds calling, to hear the rustle of monkeys in the trees and to shower with a gecko!

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Where is it and how do I get there?

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Khao Sok National Park is located in the South of Thailand a few hours from Krabi and Phuket.  If you are coming from Bangkok I would recommend going on the overnight train to Surat Thani Railway Station. From the station you will have at least an hours journey to get to the accommodation located near the national park.  Most resorts and guesthouses have a transfer service that will pick you up from the railway station.

If you have never taken an overnight train in Thailand don’t expect too much, they are very basic. Prepare yourself for using a squat toilet while the train is bumping along the tracks and make sure to hold on to the rails for dear life the last thing you want is spillage! I would definitely recommend getting a sleeper carriage ticket, it won’t be the best nights sleep you ever had but it is reasonably comfortable and trust me you really don’t want to try and sleep in the chairs!!!

If you are in Krabi or Phuket you can take a public bus or organise a private transfer.  The journey takes a few hours and goes through some absolutely spectacular countryside.

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What Can I Do?

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Trekking

Khao Sok National Park and surrounds are a nature lovers paradise!  If you love trekking then there are lots of great spots for hiking from short treks of just a few hours to much longer challenging treks for people a lot fitter than me. I would definitely recommend doing an Elephant Trek though the jungle. It’s a pretty amazing feeling being perched up on this massive majestic beast strolling through the jungle, unless you get a mischievous elephant like I did who gravitated to walking off the path and in the river!

Tubing

Tubing down the Klong Sok river was just awesome, even when managed to drop my camera in the Water (it’s waterproof luckily) and get stuck in the reeds.  It’s great fun cruising down the river then racing over the rapids only to get to the end and want to do it all over again!

Lake Tour

The Cheow Larn Lake Tour was my favourite activity the whole time I was there.  The lake in fact is a huge man made dam, in some places you can even see the tops of what were once trees looming above the surface of the water.  The lake is dotted with floating villages made mostly out of Bamboo, it was really an amazing sight to see whole communities living on the water.  If you do take a tour it is highly likely that you will stop at one of these villages for lunch and the food is just delicious, especially the freshly caught fish straight form the lake.  If you have a few hours to spend in a village then give kayaking a go or take a dip in the ever inviting cool waters.

One of the stops on the lake tour was a visit to the Nam Talu Cave.  To get to the cave we had to trek through the jungle to get to another  village on another part of the lake.  Once there, we group took a bamboo raft across the lake to the entrance of the cave.  The cave isn’t huge and out of all the caves I’ve visited many of which were in Australia I didn’t really rate this one as being a really spectacular.  The best part was the trek to get there.

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Where to Stay?

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Most of the accommodation is located outside of the national park.  I stayed at a lovely resort called Morning Mist which was located about an hour from the Cheow Larn Lake but was in a centralized area with a few restaurants and a convenience store.  The resort had excellent facilities for the price staring at 550 Thai baht a night.  The rooms were nice each with a porch and a hammock or chair to enjoy the lush surrounds.  The restaurant had quite a good variety of food although they tended to make the food visually such a work of art that it took forever to come out!

If you do want to stay in the national park you can stay in a hut at one of the floating villages on the Cheow Larn Lake.  The rooms are very small and basic made out of bamboo with only sleeping mats.  There is no formal bathroom but there is a very basic squat toilet.  They have a kitchen where you can order a delicious array of Thai Dishes.

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South East Asia

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Sasha

South East Asia is a region with a melting pot of vibrant cultures, diverse religions and unique and fascinating history.  The temperate is warm and tropical, the food amazingly flavoursome and the people are some of the nicest most welcoming people you are likely to meet anywhere in the world.  

South East Asia is an incredibly beautiful region to travel in but in some places it is extremely chaotic and claustrophobic.  The region has gone through many hardships in recent history and although the countries are developing at an overwhelming pace there is still an overwhelming number of poor people, and petty crime isn’t uncommon.  As long as you travel with an open heart and open mind travelling South East Asia is joy with surprises around every corner.  It’s a place you will want to go back to again and again.

 

Shopping

South East Asia is a fantastic place for shopping with beautifully made handicrafts, cheap electronics and other goods. The region is also well known for its trade in knockoff designer goods.  The trick with shopping is Bargain, Bargain, Bargain and Bargain Hard!!!  Bargaining is a huge part of the culture if you wish to buy anything you are expected to bargain.  Don’t worry bargaining can be fun, the trick is to be assertive and keep your sense of humour.  Ask the price, then halve it, u will generally meet somewhere in the middle.  Don’t be afraid to walk away if it is not the price your after, often they will come after you and give u the price you want, if not there will most likely be a stall selling the same thing nearby.

 

Transport


Typically Asia can be a difficult place to get around independently outside of the major cities due to many countries still developing and as a result lack transport infrastructure and efficient public transport systems.  That said it’s not impossible and if you don’t mind erratic schedules, sharing with the locals and hard mattresses on overnight trains then travelling is not so bad.  Now days there are quite a few budget airlines servicing the region making it cheap and quick to travel from place to place.

By Air…

Tiger Aiways offer cheap fares on flights to Asia departing from Perth as well as cheap fares on flights within Asia.  There hub city is Singapore.

Jet Star have cheap flights departing Australia to Asia as well as a huge range of flights within Asia.

Air Asia have flights departing from Australia to Kuala Lumpur (KL) from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth. They have a huge network of flights within Asia departing from KL.

By Land…

State Railway of Thailand is a great way to get around the country. For long travelling days or overnight trips you can get a sleeper car.

KTM Malaysian Railways rail network will take you all over Malaysia and on to Singapore.

 

Tours

Spotlight on Intrepid Travel 
Intrepid Travel offer small group off the beaten track tours all over Asia.  What’s unique about these tours over traditional coach tours is that you take local transport such as public buses and overnight trains where you get the opportunity to mingle in the with locals.  Intrepid use expert local tour guides who  give you a unique insight into culture and local life. 

Intrepid have a new touring option called Urban Adventures, these are short tours from half a day to a few days that give you a unique local insight into a city or destination.  They are a great way to get your bearings in a new place and really learn about the local life and culture.

 

 Tips

  • Take only small amounts of clothing and buy most of your clothes over there, not only are the clothes cheap but they are also more appropriate for the humid climate.
  • Many part of South East Asia including Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim countries, it is polite to dress modestly covering up your shoulders and wear bottoms that go bellow the knee.  This dress code also needs to be followed if you are planning on visiting any temples whether they are Buddhists, Muslim or Hindu.
  • Be patient.  DO NOT GET ANGRY!!!  South East Asia runs in its own time, it’s not uncommon for food to take a long time to come out from a restaurant and sometimes it may not even be what you ordered and on top of that the language barrier can be quite a challenge.  Take a deep breath, try and resolve the problem calmly.  South East Asian’s are very friendly people and they often don’t understand why the crazy westerner is shouting at them.
  • Be aware of scams, it’s a good idea to ask about common tourist scams at the nearest tourist information centre, they will have great tips and advice to avoid getting scammed.  Trust your gut, if you feel like your getting scammed or something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

 

More Info.

  • Travel Fish is a fantastic site to find out info on South East Asia and to plan your trip.  The site  has great travel tips and advice, comprehensive information on destinations and provides independent reviews on accommodation and services.
  • Backpacker South East Asia is a free magazine that has fantastic stories and travel inspiration for Backpacking SE Asia.  The magazine can be picked up at hostels, information centres and other tourism institutions throughout Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.  It is also available for download off the website.
  • For comprehensive information from an expat on travelling Chiang Mai and Thailand check out Visit Chiang Mai Online.
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