June 16-17, Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yay means big mountain. It is the oldest national park in Thailand, established in 1962, and only about 150km from Bangkok.

It is a beautiful place -- mountains, jungle, and especially lots of animals. It is particularly famous for strange birds called hornbills (on the left in the first picture). It also has about 300 tigers.

Both these pictures are from one of the park brochures -- I saw neither hornbills nor tigers. Tigers at least are apparently very hard to spot. There are also wild elephants here, and although I did not see any, I did see lots of what they had left behind, and I can confirm, there are definitely elephants in Khao Yai!!!

I saw quite a few animals, beginning with leeches, two of which bit me on my ankles. I never saw the ones that bit me, but I saw others -- little dark worms, moving a bit like inchworms, very vigorous (protesting?) when removed from the skin. My bites bled a lot, and fortunately, so far they don't seem to be infected.

I also saw some interesting lizards (almost like chameleons, but not quite) that I didn't get any pictures of.

Where I camped, there were lots of very tame deer.

They all seem to have the bare patch at the base of their necks.

The last picture was not in the campground. I saw the deer also when I went for a walk. I was, of course, wondering whether a tiger would rather hunt deer or humans for dinner...

When I went for a walk, I saw a rather shy bird that kept flying away when I tried to take its picture.

I also saw swallows.

I also saw more plants that I could recognize. I did recognize the occasional ginger and bamboo, but for example, I have no idea of what kind this beautiful tree is that was flowering.

I also saw a very thorny palm. It was quite common, and I did the best I could to keep away from it.

Finally, while driving around the park, even I could not help but spot a different kind of deer, much smaller than the one in the campground (about the size of a large dog),

as well as some monkeys.

Besides the animals, a big attraction of Khao Yai national park are the waterfalls. For example, the leeches bit me while I was looking for a waterfall in the jungle, Pha Kluai Mai. Unfortunately, Pha Kluai Mai, when found, turned out to be not very photogenic.

On the other hand, this waterfall, Haew Suwat, was featured in the movie "The Beach", and really is quite impressive.

The second really beautiful waterfall, Haew Narok ("Haew" means "abyss"), was in evocative mist in a very dense jungle.

To get to the viewing platform, I went down 199 steps.

And finally, got to see the waterfall in all its glory.

Swimming was not allowed at either of these waterfalls.

Still, I am very glad that the waterfalls in Khao Yai are much easier to find than the animals!!!