We’re taking a one day detour into the jungle before we continue south to the idyllic islands and beaches sprinkled in the Gulf of Siam and the Andaman Sea on either side of the Southern Peninsula.
Arriving by motorcoach at the Elephant Hills Tented Camp in Khao Sok National Park at midday, we had to head out immediately after lunch for a lazy river cruise. Both passengers in each piloted inflatable kayak were free to sit back and enjoy the leisurely float along the jungle waterways. The scenery was stunning with high limestone cliffs, cliff top caves and exotic wildlife. Our paddle guide pointed out plants and birds as we glided along.
It felt a little strange to not be paddling and in essence, be chauffeured. The bulky life vests were a bit uncomfortable and unnecessary in the shallow water. But we complied with the request to don them for our own “safety” rather than kick up a fuss. I could easily have waded to shore, if needed. I imagine it was more for their legal protection. I wasn’t interested in suing anyone because I toppled out of a boat in 2 feet of water.
We did stop for a tea break at one point. A fire had already been lit in preparation at this predetermined spot and a kettle was standing ready. We were even offered packaged tea cakes.
After our return to the camp late that afternoon, we had the opportunity to serve “tea” to the resident elephants. Their Thai mahouts or handlers had brought them into the feeding area. We had our work cut out for us. Our host, the camp director, demonstrated how large quantities of fruits and vegetables were to be cut and separated into individual baskets by all of us.
We had to get up close and personal for the actual hand-feeding. These gentle giants gobbled up the entire snack but were definitely more fond of certain items. The cut stalks of sugar cane were heavily favored over the less sweet squash and pumpkin. Nature’s version of candy.