After getting adjusted in Khon Kaen, the last two months (already?!) have been a whirlwind of traveling most weekends, projects and quizzes and staying in the village every other week. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had many short but amazing weekend trips around Thailand.
In the middle of September a group of us skipped out on a weekend in Bangkok and decided to go camping in Nam Phong National Park for a night,isn’t. We stopped at Tesco (the Walmart of Thailand) and picked up a few tents and lots of snacks. Later on we found that a 3 person tent is more the size for a single person. The weekend was spent walking with one of the National Park guides through a trail that looked like it hadn’t been traveled in a while, watching the sunset at a viewpoint and staying there for hours after dark, enjoying the clear skies and stars.
A few weekends after the camping trip, we took a 12 hour overnight bus ride to Chiang Rai. The bus ride was an experience in itself. Getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night required incredible balance to avoid getting thrown into the walls of the 1×1 bathroom as the bus went through the mountains. While we were in Chiang Rai we tried going to a waterfall but it was closed because of rainy season caused currents were too strong. But we made the most of it! There was a road near the entrance to the waterfalls and we followed that for a few miles. We broke a sweat and got beautiful views out of it. We also visited the Wat Rong Khun “White Temple” and Wat Rong Seur Ten “Blue Temple”, walked around the night markets and enjoyed the laid-back nightlife. We got off our bus from Chiang Rai Monday morning and had two hours to pack and get ready for our first week long community stay; another exciting week!
The next weekend we went right from the community stay to another night traveling on the a bus. This time was to Hua Hin to just chill out on a beach. And that’s just about what I did the whole time. As soon as I got there on Saturday and until the bus to leave on Sunday, I was enjoying the sun and the ocean water that felt more like bath water.
The first weekend in October, CIEE sponsored an overnight trip for the program to Phu Pha Maan National Park. It was supposedly a camping trip but my friend and I were staying in a bungalow with a fan and a bathroom. I’d say it was “glamping”. Once we got there we took a quick hike up to the bat cave. As soon as I got to the top, the bats started swarming out at the top of the cave. Thousands and thousands of them kept on coming out.
The next morning we went on a 3.5 hour hike up the mountains around the national park, led by one of the national park rangers. With a machete, of course. It became clear quickly that this “hike” was more bushwhacking. I didn’t think I could have so much fun while dripping in sweat and branches hitting my face. Along the way, there were a lot of viewpoints that looked out to mountains and rock faces covered in vines, while in the opposite direction there was a vista of green farm land. It looked like a scene out of Jurassic park. We also reached another cave (no bats this time). A few of us decided to explore the cave a little more. We reached where the light from outside the cave didn’t reach and…kept going. We got to an area that opened up and as I shined my phone light around it looked like the inside of a small stadium. We turned our lights off and were quiet for a minute. It was complete darkness with just the sound of the bats, that were probably sleeping before a bunch of humans came in.