|Today promised to be one of the highlights of the trip and it didnt disapoint. After a breakfast of chicken and rice soup (I am getting used to soup for breakfast) We all climbed into the back of the land rovers to head off to the national park. There were 16 of us in total, 8 in each vehicle, with a driver and a guide in the front. We arrived at the park enterance. On the gate the security guard gave our guide a bag tied up at the top, he placed it in the back with us and told us not to open it as it contained a venomous snake, yeah right, we then went to an observation point, that showed how high we were as we looked down over the green hill sides of the park, above all the trees. At this point we were given linen socks that went over your normal socks and over your trousers then tied up at the shin in order to keeep the leeches from crawling up inside your trousers. We then clambered back into the land rover and carried on down the road, only to stop by the roadside with no obvious indication of why. We all dutifully alighted our transport to find our guide stood with a scorpion on his hand. The scorpion had been crossing the road and spotted by the eagle eyed guys in the front. We were informed that the scorpion had left his natural habitat, a hole in the ground, because it would have been full of water following yesterdays rain and scorpions don't like water. He placed it on the hand of one of the party, then the shoulder of another while the rest of us took photos. He then held it while we all stroked it, including Angie and me. After another mile or so we stopped by the side of the road, the guide picked up the bag he had earlier given us to look after and told us to follow him into the jungle, after about 30 yards he stopped, open the bag and emptied its contents onto the floor of the jungle, he wasnt lying earlier, out fell a Malaysian Python, which just sat on the ground staring at us, while the cameras went into overdrive. We then drove further into the park, where we were due to take a break. As we got off of the wagon again, he pointed out a large (2 foot long) on a log in the middle of the nearby stream. We had finished looking at that and were just about to visit the exhibition and toilets when our guide heard gibbons in the jungle close by, so we followed him down a few paths till we reached the gibbons and watched them in the trees above us. After a brief visit to the exhibition centre and the toilet we were due to leave that area but then our guide noticed a Pit Viper dangling from a tree nearby. This snake is very small, very green and very venomous, the cameras were off and running again, many get to within a few feet of this deadly creature. We drove further into the jungle and stopped again, this time to view a large female spider, about the size of my hand if not bigger, sitting in her web, waiting for some poor unfortunate victim to become entangled in it. I never saw what they were all looking at, I thought it was on a tree, so if I had moved much further forward it could have been me wrapped up in the web. The male of the same species were also on the web, but they were only the size of ants and were in danger of being devoured if something didnt turn up for the females lunch.
We then began our trek on foot through the jungle, we lined up and followed the guide in, as we traipsed through the jungle we looked like the white man expedition in those old Tarzan films. We walked for about five miles, stopping only to look at the animals and birds, eat sticky rice with egg custard on and to pick up Angie when she fell over. The path was muddy and slippy from the previous few days rain and many in our party had slipped and slid their way along the path, but non had actually fallen, until Angie hit the deck in impressive syle, covering herself in mud and also me as I helped her to her feet. While we trekked through the jungle we saw, another pit viper,large black squirrels, hornbills and other birds I didnt know the name of, plus unusual plants and trees. What I didnt see was the leech that crawled under my tee shirt and onto my stomach, where it began sucking my blood. The first I knew about this parasite was when i felt something wet under my tee shirt, I put my hand up there to investigate it, but when I pulled it out it was covered in blood, there was also blood on my tee shirt, but no sign of the evil creature that had done this too me, it must have had its fill and dropped off. After our trek through the dense jungle we went off to have lunch and a rest before heading off to the waterfall. On the way we came across monkeys in the road and playing in the trees next to the road. They didnt seem bothered we were there and in fact loved to pose for the cameras. We carried on and visited the waterfall, started at the top the wandered down to take photos from the bottom too. With that done we were off to find the elepahnts, unfortunately all we found was deer, more posing monkeys and the usual heavy rain storm at this time of day. We eventually gave up elephant hunting and headed back to the guest house having had a most interesting day, with lots of laughs and a lot more knowledge. We wouldnt have seen anything, apart from the posing monkeys without the superb guide from the green leaf guest house where we are staying, he really was fantastic.
While on the trip we got talking to two guys who work in Bangkok, one an American who teaches English to Japanese businessmen and a Dutch guy who works in the travel industry. We had our evening meal then sat around drinking and chatting with these two, till they disappeared to a bar further down the street, then it was time for some well earned sleep, after what was one of the highlights of the trip so far, a truely memorable day.