When we were planning our trip to Thailand, our little sister confided in us. “I don’t want to only visit temples,” she said. “I’ll be bored.”
We tried to accommodate. But where to go? We looked at the areas surrounding Bangkok and noticed a sprawling forest just a couple hours. Khao Yai National Park, it’s called. Now there’s an idea.
Sure enough, the first couple days of shopping, flitting in and out of restaurants and art galleries, and visiting temples bored our teenage sister out of her mind. We finally decided to surprise her with a trip to the park.
We woke up early in the morning. As expected, our sister was grouchy. She didn’t know where we were going and did not appreciate having to wake up before the break of dawn.
“Trust us,” we said. “You’ll love it.”
She grudgingly followed us into the car and immediately fell asleep at the backseat. We visited a traditional market just outside Bangkok to buy food for the journey and set off on our way. A couple hours passed, and looking out of the window we could see the landscape change. The crowded Bangkok scene soon changed into rolling hills and tree-lined roads.
We finally arrived at Khao Yai National Park, where a Chinese-Thai tour guide greeted us warmly. She gave us all straw hats to wear – “to feel like you’re local,” she said, and guided us to an oxcart we were going to ride into the park.
One thing we must mention: it just rained a couple hours before, so the ground was very muddy. As the ox made their way slowly but surely, the wheels sprayed mud all over us. For some reason this was exactly what our sister was looking for. She definitely enjoyed the experience.
We reached a small clearing surrounded by trees. The lady ushered us up a flight of stairs and into a bamboo treehouse, where we could see the forest from above. She then pulled out some cooking pots and raw ingredients, and asked us if we’d like to cook lunch with her. We said yes, of course. We made papaya salad, soup, and ended the meal with good old mango sticky rice.
Full and satisfied, we explored the forest. We went to the river, hiked up and down, and climbed down a long, long flight of stairs to see a magnificent waterfall that soaked us from head to toe. We could barely talk to each other amid the roaring waterfall, but we could see in each other’s faces that we all enjoyed this – despite the mud, the water and the sweat we were covered in.
Sounds fun? It definitely was. If you ever found yourself wanting to take a day trip from Bangkok, Khao Yai should definitely be on your list.
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