Camping in Paradise
Another amazing weekend.
On Saturday, I took the train to Hua Hin, a beachy town right on the gulf, and met up with the usual crew (Lauren + Steph). The weather was a little drizzly, so after looking around a bit, we stumbled upon a Western style grocery store and bought all the fixings for tacos. Back at our Airbnb, we cooked up a feast of tacos/ nachos with what we were able to find. We made the best of our hodgepodge of ingredients, and enjoyed our interesting dinner on the balcony as the sun set.
Later that night, we went to the night market in town, which was super lively and filled with stands selling our favorite Thai dessert, known as roti (sweet crepes filled with banana and egg)!
In the morning, we hopped on a bright orange bus that brought us about an hour away to a town called Pranburi.
From Pranburi we persuaded a taxi to take us all the way to the beautiful Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. As we were nearing our destination, the mountains came into view and I was so glad that we all share the same passion for and awe of the outdoors.
Then we were there. We followed signs and began the 4 km hike to Laem Sala Beach and Phraya Nakhon Cave. The trail was really steep and rocky, but the views along the way made it so worth it.
We stopped at the beach to attempt to take a cool (but poorly timed) handstand picture, and also to inquire about renting a tent for the night.
After a quick rest we began the steep ascent to Phraya Nakhon Cave. On our way, we saw monkeys! They were swinging on the trees above our heads as we hiked up and up. Then, at the top, we hiked down into the caves. Once we made it inside, it was clear to me that this would be one of the highlights of my time in Thailand. The temple inside the cave was illuminated by the light coming through the hole overhead. Despite its remote location, the whole chamber smelled of incense.
We sat and stared at the temple, and refueled with some snacks before heading back down to the beach. We were happy to find that the tent we had rented (for 150 baht) was already set up for us under a shady patch of trees right by the beach. For some reason, we were the only people camping that night, so we had the place all to ourselves! We kicked off our hiking shoes, headed to the park restaurant, and ended the evening on the beach, swapping stories while watching the sunset.
The ground was hard, and we didn’t have pillows or blankets, but we managed to catch some z’s. (Side note: I’m currently reading a book about the Dytlov Pass incident, so sleeping in a tent was creeping me out a little!)
We got up early the next morning to watch the sunrise, then packed up and began our hike back to the visitors center. We were the first customers of the day, and we ate a colorful breakfast of pineapple fried rice.
A nice lady called us a “taxi,” (actually just a teenage Thai boy with a truck), and we insisted on sitting in the back. The views on the way back to Pranburi were stunning.
After a bus, a train and the trusty old songteow, I found myself back in Don Tum, ready to start another week of teaching.
That’s one more national park in the books, and another place checked off my bucket list.
Next stop: Khao Yai National Park!