Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All relax

Thailand's southern province of Chumphon is not well known touristically, not for it's superb beaches, nor for the beautiful forests containing possibly some great waterfalls.

That said there's not a tourist website that fails to mention the existence of Kapo (Kapoh) waterfalls, to the northwest of the province's capital.

Though why this figures as the most mentioned of this province's waterfalls beats me.

The waterfall is easily accessible from the main highway (no. 4) going south via a very poorly signposted trail. Blink and miss.
The access road brings you to a grassy plateau, none of which might give you a clue that you had arrived already. Continue onwards the black top runs out and you end up on a T crossing. Way too far!
The waterfall is near the grass plateau, travel back. Park the car and visit the hardly discernible waterfall.

Apparently somewhere in the past, much effort had been invested in making this a recreation park, but no funding reserved for maintenance.

The 'fall' is a 2 m drop followed by a couple of short drops into a stagnant pool.
Due to the fact that this waterfall is near to the highway the effort to pull the car over from chugging down the highway is quite easy. But expectations should be tempered, maybe stock up at a petrol station and have a picnic.

Most web sites refer as follows:
'Located in Tambon Salui, this waterfall is 13 kilometres from Tha Sae, along Phetkasem Road, between 466th 468th kilometre, or from Pathomphon Crossroad, by Petkasem Road for about 30 kilometres. The park has the area of 7,010 Rai of shaded forests and small waterfalls, suitable for relaxation' (source).
The Bangkok Post adds:
'It is a pleasing dappled park with a small waterfall and many species of plants appropriate for natural science study and relaxation'.
Kohtaotoday puts the following description:
'The park has a pleasant atmosphere of cool forest with a small waterfall flowing. All year round. There are many kinds of the plants, the residents of some birds kinds of the animals. This park is suit able for relaxation'.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Khao Sok National Park is a funny kind of place. Due to it's relative proximity to Phuket / Khao Lak, the ability to use it as a stopover from these places to / from Samui ferry and being just one km from a nice highway, it see's it's fair share of tourists. So much so, that a village of lodges, minimarts, travel agencies and cafe's / restaurants has sprung up.

Besides the facts of access, the reasons for a visit include the entrance point to one of Thailand's biggest and most spectacular national parks, the impressive craggy scenery and deliteful meandering stream that finds it's way through the various bungalow operations.
A poorly translated blog site names Khao Sok as no. 2 in Thailands list of top 10 national parks.

An acquaintance with the steamy jungle is on the cards.
Khao Sok offers a number of trails, along some streams. Having done these trails already 20 years back, one would expect some improvement. But none of that. Though the village has expanded exponentially, the national park has little to show for 20 years of high entrance paying tourists. One is still leant on to take a guide to destinations just beyond a ninety minute walk over a 4WD track. Going beyond is forbidden without a guide, at least in the wetter half of the year. Such is the pressure that even to this point of return groups of tourists see themselves compelled to hire a guide which is ridiculous.

Though I might see some safety element in this, it questions why the same practice does not take place elders. Or why simply the trails are made safe enough for independent tourists. But maybe keeping the guide trade in business trumps all other reasons.

Anyway, mid 2011, we took the walk up the Khlong Sok as far as possible which leads to amongst a couple of swimming holes, the waterfall of Wang Hin. Wang Hin sits on a small tributary on the opposite bank of the main Khlong.

Beyond the Khlong, Wang Hin waterfall.

Further upstream are the waterfalls of Bang Leiap Nam and Ton Kloi, as well as Than Sawan which is up a side stream. Possibly a guide might be required for this waterfall

From the national park headquarters there is also the possibility to visit Sip-et-Chan waterfall, an eleven tiered waterfall (the translation already says it all). Possibly reachable during the dry season.

Other trekking destinations are the already aforementioned swimming hole
(see photo of Bang Hua Raet below) as well as a few more spots for a dip.

Me, getting more wet with water than the customary sweat.

Just outside the national park there is the possibility for tubing (with guide), canoeing (with guide) or elephant trekking.

Over the mountains is the exceptional experience of where a major stream in the park has been flooded for hydropower usage. The lake level has risen enabling boot journeys around and among the towering limestone cliffs, a must-see.

The lake on a rainy monsoonal morning.

Wang Hin waterfall of Khao Sok National Park is located in Surat Thani province, just over 100 km due west along the main 401 highway. Good and recent info on the park is available from Khaosok.com as well as from Khaosokdiscovery.com.

Probably some of the best independent users information comes from Tezza's beaches and islands extensive and updated entry on Khao Sok. He goes to considerable lengths to warn against leeches, I had only the one after 3 hours, which dropped off by itself and the bleeding terminated after a couple of hours.

The leeches contribute to Khao Sok being rated as the one of the
World's Deadliest Places to Swim!
'Before you go camping in this national park, be advised. The area is the home to more deadly creatures than any naive tourist can imagine. Huge centipedes the size of an adult man’s arm, man eating sharks[!, there are none!], blood sucking leeches, giant mosquitoes and poisonous caterpillars and Scorpion fish. Getting bitten by leeches is seemingly unavoidable so make sure to take up smoking as leeches hate tobacco. When attacked, mix water with tobacco and pour it over the leech and it should let go. Whatever you do, do not try and remove it by force as it will cause it to release its venom'.
A better perspective to be had is from Thom Henley's Waterfalls and Gibbon Calls (2005).
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