Honestly, I was quite excited to leave the city of Bangkok to explore southern Thailand’s landscape, and Khao Sok National Park certainly did not disappoint.
I stayed at Anurak Community Lodge, a small eco-lodge within the park. It was amazing. I splurged on my own little bungalow, and the lodge offered a wide variety of daily activities that kept me pretty busy and made it really easy to explore the area.
My little house was named Malako, which means papaya. On site, there is a central open air cafeteria, which is the only area with Wi-Fi. It was also where I met other solo travelers and had dinner with them just about every night – with amazing Thai dishes and spectacular views of the mountains.
Samboon & the Elephant Sanctuary
The first activity I signed up for was to meet Samboon, the 56 year old elephant at the nearby elephant sanctuary.
When planning the trip, I was really reluctant to take part in any elephant tourism that could be potentially harmful to the animals. This particular elephant sanctuary was anything but. They rescued Samboon from the trekking industry and now work with tourist companies to afford to keep him. They ask us to help feed and clean him, and in return they make enough money to keep him but also support local farms. Samboon eats a ton of food, quite literally almost a ton. So the owners have a deal with local banana farms to buy their bananas at a lower price and also give them fresh elephant manure for their farms.
Meanwhile, a tourist like myself comes along and enjoys just hanging out with him. Feeding him bananas, making his dinner, and washing him.
But let me give you more of what you really want: more elephant pictures. Because who doesn’t love elephants?!
Cheow Lake and Jungle Trekking
The next day, I spent the whole day at the lake in Khao Sok, Cheow Lake, which actually isn’t a lake at all: it’s a man made reservoir.
We crammed into one of these boats and went for about an hour until we made it to the floating houses. The scenery along the way was just completely mind-numbingly beautiful.
We ate lunch at the floating huts, jumped in the water, and then set off for the jungle trek, which included a hike through a natural cave. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the cave because my phone was deep in a waterproof bag. The cave was so deep at some points I was literally swimming!
But just look at the insane colors. I heard that the blue in the water is actually because of the limestone rocks.
On the boat ride back, we meandered a bit to see more of the limestone cliffs throughout the lake.
Bike Ride through the Trees
The last adventure I did was a guided bike tour through the local tree farms. Southern Thailand agriculture mostly consists of two types of products: rubber trees and palm oil trees. Rubber trees are typically worth much more, but are only productive for a small window of the year, whereas palm oil trees are productive year round, so most farms have both.
Here are the rubber trees: and by the way, the rubber sap from the trees smells pretty terrible.
And palm oil trees:
And then we were able to stop and see some fruit trees as well!
Cashew nut trees:
And lastly, papaya! Or malako, like my house name:
For the last part of the bike tour, we stopped at the Fish Cave, a small temple where Monks once lived hundreds of years ago. Today, people visit the cave for a small part of the river with fish that jump out of the water when fed.
All in all, I had an unbelievable time while in Khao Sok National Park. I hope to be back!