So, in a momentary spur of monumental wisdom on my part, I had decided to go hiking in a mountain jungle park in the middle of the hottest time of year in South East Asia. The cost was 200 baht ($7) for foreigners to enter the park; although I noticed later that my lodging had a side entrance I could have just as easily entered the park from.
Surprisingly, too, there is a hostel just a little ways inside of the park. As I already had a place to stay, I didn’t bother to look into its rates or accommodations.
A small ways past the entrance is the visitor center, where I picked up a map of the 2 trails in this section of the park. Both were about 10 km long in total, though each had its visible pros and cons from the map. One was longer and had more waterfalls, but it was one way and you would have to retrace your path on the way back. The other one was shorter overall and looped around, but there were fewer falls shown on the map.
I chose the one-way path with more falls and set off. There were very few others on the trails, but those who were mostly European families.
It didn’t take long, after 4 kilometers or so, until the heat and my own sweat were really starting to get to me. The falls I had come across so far hadn’t really been falls at all, but were instead just rapids through sizable boulders. Still, they made a nice spot to chill out in the river and let my shirt dry off on the stones.
My hike did not seem to be having the fortuitous sights that Sarah, who had recommended me this park, had. Whereas she had baby elephants breaking through tree lines, I got a monkey chasing and eating a lizard. She had floating bungalows in a mountain valley, I found a concrete pipe braking through the ground of a secluded rainforest hiking path heading toward the river below.
All day long, the sound of thunder had been echoing off the surrounding mountains and the sky was darkening and the brightening again. When the thunder was becoming uncomfortable frequent, I was still 6 kilometers into the trail, and still had to retrace my way back.
It was at this time that I decided to turn around, even though the map promised the best waterfalls were just a few more kilometers. I didn’t care for the rain forest enough to be caught a thunderstorm in the middle of it. Picking up my pace on the way back, I seemed to have made it back to my room only about 20 minutes before the heavy rains started.
After a very welcome shower, I changed clothes and started walking around the developed area. At the end of a side road, I came to a wonderfully built resort right on the river, complete with a jungle-enshrouded terrace. Here, I met a British couple and had dinner with them. They were heading toward Bangkok and were asking what to do on the way. I gladly recommended Prachuap Khiri Khan and some good spots in Bangkok itself.