On Saturday we took off our internship caps, put on our tourist caps, and ventured out into the big, bad jungle. Our trusty driver (friend, and father figure) Kyaw Soe (which is somehow pronounced Joe Su), picked us up in the morning and we headed about 45 km south of Mae Sot to stop #1: Highland Farm & Gibbon Sanctuary. Founded in 1991 by a Thai couple, Highland is now home to sixty Gibbons (monkeys), one Asian black bear, and two peacocks. All of the animals came to the farm because they were neglected, in need of a home, and because they had been reared in captivity, unable to be released back into the wild.
After dousing ourselves in bug spray (which was the first instruction the Thai woman gave us), she gave us a tour of the farm. While seemingly cute and cuddly, we were warned to stay at least an arms length away from the cages because the Gibbons like to pull hair (or worse).
We bid the Gibbons farewell and headed to stop #2: a waterfall in Namtok Pacharoen National Park! It was stunning. We kicked off our shoes went tromping through the pools.
After the waterfall, we stopped for a quick roadside lunch and then headed off to stop #3: another waterfall and swimming area. When we got there, Kyaw Soe (who is not only a wonderful driver but also an excellent tour guide) asked if we wanted to see a pagoda. We promptly said yes, he pointed through the trees to the top of a hill and said, “up there, not far,” and started hiking up a stream bed. We scrambled after him and soon we had ditched our shoes and were literally climbing up a narrow waterfall or vertical stream, to reach the top of the mountain. The last stretch was the wettest and most precarious as we reached the top of the waterfall.
Then we bush whacked through some tall grass, ducked under a downed electrical wire (which we quickly discovered wasn’t live), and were greeted by this sight:
It was such an unexpected experience, we loved it! The trip back down the waterfall was a bit sketchy, but we we made it safely to the bottom and got to go for a dip in the lake/reservoir/swimming hole.
And thus completes our jungle adventure. It was a nice change of pace from our routine at the BWU office, and we just can’t get over how beautiful the countryside is! It comes with a price though: RAIN! And lots of it. We’ve definitely noticed a change in the last week and feel that we are truly in monsoon season now. It rains hard at least once a day, usually three or four times, and the paddies and sugar cane fields are flooding, spilling water into the roads. The adventure continues!
Katie, Abbey, and Colleen