Where we've been this week: Elephant Hills Camp (Khao Sok Rain Forest) and Koh Yao Yai (island off the coast of Phuket)
The tent where we slept and spent time relaxing and enjoying the rain sounds. It was the best sleep I've gotten this whole trip!
We left Khao Lok on the coast near Phuket and arrived after about an hour into the middle of the Khao Sok rainforest. It is incredible! It seriously looked like a prehistoric jungle that dinosaurs could roam in.
This is the view from our tent. The mist and rain really lent itself to the name "rainforest". After we unpacked and I got some hammock time, we headed out for a canoe trip down the Sok River.
It was rainy but beautiful. We saw some monkeys, lots of cool trees, and some bamboo boats. After the river tour came the elephants! As you can imagine, this was everyone's favorite part.
We got to learn about each of the eleven lady elephants enjoying retirement at the Elephant Hills sanctuary. This one we were feeding was blind so we had to touch her trunk to get her attention. Her best bud next to her would nudge her back so she'd pay attention.
Fay loved getting to pet their trunks and have time to observe them. We had more time just to be with the elephants here than at the last sanctuary and we all relished in it. They are amazing creatures just to watch. Two kept swaying together as if dancing. If you want the video version, let me know and I'll send it!
The one to our left was 80 years old! She had no teeth left so she only got bananas and soft fruits. She looked so good for her age!
We knew that elephants enjoyed water but we didn't know that ponds are also where they used the bathroom- sometimes up to 10 times a day! Every time we saw bubbles from behind, we knew a new ball of manure was going to pop up and sure enough it did. We named this spot The Poop Pond. The kids on the trip were fascinated and couldn't stop giggling (as were some adults too)!
Every night there were Thai traditional dances performed by local school kids. They were really talented and Fay wanted to memorize the dances and do them too.
They also did a nightly cooking demonstration of popular Thai dishes. This was a curry that was so tasty. All of the ingredients were so fresh and flavorful. Luckily we got to taste everything afterwards!
On our final day, we took a canoe to the other side of the nearby river and went on a trek. We walked up a long windy creek/waterfall, scrambled over rocks, and squished in the mud. It was the most fun hiking I think I've ever had. Plus it didn't actually rain, which was the first time all week (we still dressed with rain coats just in case because you never know- one minute dry, next minute soaked!).
They gave us walking sticks because you needed all the help you could get trying to traverse up the trails.
We learned about the rainforest flora and fauna. This Kapok tree was massive! We learned that it's hollow so not good for boat making but good for making toothpicks! Luckily this one was protected and important for the ecosystem so it was in no danger of becoming a million toothpicks.
After hiking for a while, they fed us a delectable lunch made in the jungle. They gave us fresh coconut milk to drink and used it in the curry, grilled pork over open flames, and made the tastiest scrambled eggs I've ever eaten. Then it was time to head back, get cleaned up from the muck, and get on our way to our next stop- Koh Yao Yai- our Thai island adventure!
We're staying at a resort a friend went to for her honeymoon and it's absolutely breathtaking.
Our room is made of all carved teak wood and we have a balcony looking over the bay with a tub to sit in. It's the largest place we've stayed in so far so it took a bit to get our bearings but once we did, we were loving it.
We swam in the infinity pool (there are actually 2 pools-this one just happened to be closer to our room so we've spent a lot of time here). They also have multiple restaurants, a spa, a kids club, free classes, and a library where we've each checked out books. At night, they have live music and dancing.
They have traditional Thai dancing in one restaurant and then also fire dancing on the beach on Saturdays. It was all so impressive!
It's hard to capture the amazing ways the performers used the fire but it really blew our minds. At the end, one of the circles of fire threw off fireworks!
After watching all this cool dancing, we signed up to take one of the Thai dance classes ourselves! It was probably the hardest dance class I've ever taken. There were so many delicate movements with the fingers and arms. Then they went and added legs into it too. It was fun but challenging which made me have such admiration for how easy the dancers make it look. We looked like clumsy Americans!
They even gave us special Thai pants that they wrapped themselves. The artists here work really hard and they did it with a smile. We've learned a lot about Thai culture that I didn't expect.
Fay is posing with the view from where the breakfast buffet and seating is. Every morning we've been able to wake up, eat the most delicious Thai food (curry for breakfast anyone?), and spend the day in paradise. But alas, it's our final day and our last sunset on the gorgeous, hot, and dry island of Koh Yao Yai.
This is us looking out at the Andaman Sea. It's much calmer on this side since we're in a bay than on the west coast near Khao Lok which is in open waters. Fay has seen lots of little ghost crabs and hermit crabs.
Tomorrow we leave and head for Bangkok for 3 days. Then on Friday we are starting the next leg of our journey- 2 weeks in Japan and Korea with my sister! We're all very excited but also sad that the SE Asia part of our trip is nearly over. It flew by! We all really enjoyed the beauty, culture, and nature of SE Asia. If you can make it to this side of the world someday, do it! You will not regret the experience.
I'll try to write while we're in Japan and Korea but we'll be doing a guided tour and may not have much free time. I promise to catch up on the other end of it all!
Hope you have a wonderful start to October...one of the best and spookiest months of the year! XOXOXO