The next morning we caught a taxi to Bangkok train station to head towards the small town of Pak Chong, 3 hours northeast of Bangkok. Pak Chong itself is a fairly unremarkable but quaint Thai town but it sits at the entrance to Khao Yai National Park. Khao Yai national park is 3000 square kilometers of basically untouched tropical rainforest. We organised in Bangkok for someone to show us around the park.
When we arrived at Pak Chong station, we were driven to where we were staying the night. Apparently Pak Chong, whilst off the tourist trail for most westerners, is a poplar holiday destination for Thai people and is where many Thai celebrities have their holiday houses so the hotel we stayed it was reasonably well furnished and it was nice to find a separate shower/toilet arrangement in a bathroom that we weren't sharing with everyone else in the building for a change.
The afternoon we arrived, we met our guide Tata who turned outta be a real champ. Despite his very formal language and misuse of pronouns, his English was good and he was a funny and knowledgable guy. That afternoon, Tata took us to a mineral pool where the locals swim, to an underground Buddhist monastery/cave complex and to see the millions of bats streaming out of the cave to hunt at sunset.
When we were staying in the hostel in Bangkok (oh, by the way, we moved into a nice hostel in Bangkok. It was pretty great, actually) someone had taken my shoes which surprised me. Not having the time to properly search before we left, I had to leave and hope they had turned up by the time we got back to Bangkok (which they eventually did). This meant, however, that when Tata told us that we were going trekking thought he rainforest that afternoon, all I had to wear were thongs/flip flops. Tata took us to a number of places that sold shoes (including a second hand shoe salesman on the side of the road) but no one even came close to stocking shoes that would fit me. Not for the first or last time, I was #toobigforthailand. Wearing thongs with leech socks is not a good look.
The second day we mostly spent trekking around the jungle. We saw monkeys, gibbons, a herd of wild elephants, scorpions, far too many leeches, turtles, monster lizard water dragon things and a bunch of other stuff. Tata also really knew his stuff as well. I'd recommend Khao Yai if you want to actually see some of Thailand. Again, I'm just going to put in a bunch of photos because its easier.
I imagine he also has an issue with finding adequate footwear.
"Do you think we'll see any wild animals?"
"I think that's something of a gibbon"
This is our only photo of Tata unfortunately. He's eating a tree here for some reason.
We caught a bus back to Bangkok that night where I was reunited with my shoes which was bittersweet because, as glad as I was to have them back, I'd already had to wear the thongs/leech socks combination.