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Jungle Treehouse – Khao Sok National Park

May 1, 2013

Leaving the lovely Dolphin Bay Resort, we needed to decide if we were going to head over to the east-coast islands where we plan to make our longer term home on Koh Samui, or travel a bit further south and west to the treehouse hotel that looked so intriguing, followed by a visit to a the west coast before the rainy season hits there (apparently a good deal earlier and more intensely than on the east-side).

We opted for the treehouses and west coast and will later likely fly from Krabi to Koh Samui – intra Thailand flights are very reasonable.

Direction chosen, we booked our spots on the train (air con this time) and headed out.  Just in case anyone is thinking that it is all rainbows and cotton candy on this trip … it isn’t…. it is actually a lot more work than people probably picture, and definitely requires a lot of ‘flexibility’.  We had but another reminder of this during our “travel day” to the tree houses.

After rushing away from our beloved Dolphin Bay Resort in the morning, we arrived at the train station in Hua Hin only to find that our train would be departing two hours later than expected, which put the entire schedule behind from the very start.  We were not quite clear on the logistics of getting from Surat Thani (destination of the train) to the actual treehouse in the national park so we had opted to book a private vehicle through the treehouse hotel to pick us up from the train station.  Unfortunately our later arrival….meant a later departure with the private vehicle.  The road trip from Surat Thani was also longer than expected (double) which meant our travel day ended up starting at 0900AM and ending at 1000PM which was hard on the adults, never mind the kids.  It also meant we needed to drive on the roads at night … which is something we try to avoid unless we are in a very big bus.  (Might makes right in the games of chicken on the Thai roads.)

About halfway through the road trip Lucia started to complain about a pinchy belly and this was quickly echoed by Amelie.  Fifteen minutes later we had both of them wailing in the back seat with Katharina trying to console them (to no avail) and Brad apologising to the driver for the noise.  We were worried about another car sickness episode so had bags ready but we think we stopped just in time to dodge that bullet.

We arrived at our resort and immediately had the sounds of the jungle competing with our two girls for charting on the decibal scale.  Some knowing looks were exchanged between reception and the driver, and we were quickly whisked through the check in process.  Tears streaming and kids still at high volume we were escorted down a very dark jungle path by flashlight while trying desperately not to wake up the other guests.  We lugged our packs up some very steep stairs into the jungle canopy and found some respite in our lovely treehouse.  Outside the frogs, birds, monkeys and the multitude of insects created a literal cacophony of sound – we tried to capture it on a video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od-cx_dfhos.  Play it loud for the “real” feel.  We were awoken in the morning to the sound of monkeys playing on our roof.

Highlights

  • The treehouses hotel itself http://www.khaosok-hotels.com/ was amazing.  Trails throughout the jungle with treehouses lodged in the trees periodically.  It was beautiful and nature only turned down the volume a little bit during the day.  The restaurant was wonderful and served up some fantastic meals.
  • Elephant Jungle Trek – With granola bars in hand, as the restaurant was not yet open for breakfast, we were picked up by an open-back covered pick-up truck with benches, a common look for taxis in the area.  This early morning ride was so refreshing, and offered both temperatures and views not available during the day.  As we whizzed down the road, we saw an elephant walking on the shoulder of the road (perhaps on his way to ‘work’), and several groups of orange clad monks on their morning walk.  Arriving at the elephant ‘camp’, we were guided up a small flight of stairs in pairs (Brad and birthday girl Amelie, and Kat and Lucia), that allowed us to climb on to the seats mounted on the elephants backs.  The chairs wobbled with each large elephant stride, and especially at that height, it did take a bit of getting used too….but man it was fun!  The relatively early morning (0700AM) start to our elephant trek was perfect, allowing us to dodge the heat and still have morning mists in the air as we went through the jungle on the elephants.  The kids loved the experience and it was very beautiful – surrounded by lush jungle and towering limestone cliffs.  We regularly heard the VERY loud roaring of a leopard …. it’s roar literally echoed around the jungle and made him sound a lot bigger than we hoped he really was.  🙂  For the last portion of the ‘ride’, Lucia was even able to ride on the elephant’s head with one of the guides.  Her love of animals, and her lack of fear, never cease to amaze us.  The kids also had an opportunity to feed the elephants some sugar cane after the ride was over.
  • Amelie’s 5th Birthday.  We had the elephant trek in the morning and had several travel appropriate birthday gifts (ie light-weight and practical) for her.  One of the gifts – a new birthday dress – was expertly wrapped in a banana leaf courtesy of Katharina.  We had also special ordered an actual birthday cake to be brought in to the restaurant for the occassion.  We were fortunate to meet a Swiss family travelling with two young boys 3 and 5 who were staying at the hotel and joined us for a joint dinner/birthday party.  Later in the evening another family from France with two girls aged 4 and 6 arrived and also joined us.  Cake and birthday candles and then games of freeze dance and musical chairs completed the party and what we think will be a very memorable birthday for Amelie.  In fact, that evening Amelie said the same thing she does each year on her birthday, “This was my favorite birthday ever!”
  • Swiss Family Robinson.  Brad had completed reading the Robinson Crusoe book to the girls and came up with the idea of downloading the Swiss Family Robinson tv series onto our computers.  We watched several episodes in our treehouse during the hottest parts of the day and the kids are completely enthralled with each episode and are often twisting and squirming in the bed in a mix of both anticipation and fear (during the “scary” parts).  Though the series is older, stories are still charming, and even offer lots of opportunities for learning and discussion.  We, the parents, are happy to confirm that the special effects industry has come a LONG way since the mid seventies.

We are heading off to Ao Nang, Krabi on the west coast of Thailand next where we hope to go ocean kayaking and for the girls’ first snorkelling experience.

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3 Comments
  1. You guys are my heroes! I totally resonated with the girls and the ‘pinchy belly’ except I usually just crap my pants before puking … my MO.

  2. Daran permalink

    Hey guys thanks for sharing all the stories…say hi to the girls for us..Daran

  3. Grimm family permalink

    The tree house resort looks beautiful!! We showed Mason pictures of your family on the elephants and he said you are all very brave, and how did you get up there?

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