As usual I woke up last, awakened by the complaints from Rich the champion snorer that he didn’t get a wink of sleep all night. He then coughed up and spat a few big wads of phlegm and downed the last of the Hong Thong: Begin day 2.
The guides were of course up and about and Klong bought us over some hot coffee served in cups cut from bamboo. We were then treated to slices of warm toast with scrambled eggs and then unexpectedly, French toast, a good start to the day! Dismantling our ‘camp’ didn’t take long, as the Thai guys took care of it while we dithered around trying to figure out how to get into our shoes without getting even more wet and muddy.
I pulled on a fresh pair of socks and my soaked combats and left on the t-shirt I wore all night which was pretty dry. The fresh socks felt good, even in damp>wet trainers. I wasn’t sure which direction we would head in, but as soon as the guys had carefully made sure there was no trace of fire or litter, they proceeded straight through the nearby river. So long, fresh socks.
I guess we had done about 4KM yesterday, plus the cave, but had stopped early because of the rain, so we were assured today would be tougher. I think I was on auto pilot a lot of the way. The jungle was so dense, you don’t get to see much until you hit a clearing or river, and all your focus is on where you’re treading and what’s springing towards your head (especially if you walk behind Phil). A hat is essential, though creates a lot of sweat. Did I mention the jungle is hot, very hot? And more humid than it is hot? Well, it is. We lost a lot of sweat on this day, and we consumed all but 2 remaining bottles of fresh water.
At one point I hung back with P.Sanan as he had spotted some gibbons floating through the trees, we also passed through lots of bison trails and found a turtle resting in a tree root puddle. We could hear the buzzing wings of the Hornbills but they were very hard to spot because of the thick canopy. This day was a bit of a blur, I guess we did about 7KM or so in total. For lunch we stopped by a stream where Phil and I were immediately inclined to rip off our sodden clothes and jump in the cool water while our new friends prepared rice, curry and Ma Ma noodles with canned fish. They had also put up a few of the hammocks to be used as seats. We took this time to wash with shower gel and cool off, after the long morning trek, it was a good break.
The second good break came as I went to sit on one of the hammocks, erected directly above a jagged 6” stump in the ground and managed to snap it, sending my arse on a gravity assisted collision course with said stump. If I had landed a few inches to the right, I would have been in very serious trouble (thinking of the squealing in ‘Deliverance’), but as luck would have it, I came off with just a bit of a graze and a bump. If you ever sleep in a hammock in the jungle: LOOK AT WHAT IS UNDERNEATH BEFORE YOU GET ON IT!
We set off once more for another hot, steamy, sweaty, leechy, trek that took us to our next bed site, again next to a spring with small waterfall which we leapt in straight away. This one had fish in it that nibbled your skin, but that was much more welcome than the things that eat you outside of the water. Phil still managed to get thrashed by mosquitoes even though he was underwater, and I was welted up from mozzie bites across the chest and back, Rich was the leeches favourite but none of us had touched the poison leaves yet.
As the day had been pretty tough, we decided not to go on a night safari, which I forgot to mention we had done the night before. That was a fun torch assisted mini-trek through the pitch black rain forest to get nice and wet again before going to bed. Our camp was set up and it was done so this time without rain, so we went for real luxury and spread large fan-like leaves under the hammocks and the ‘dining area’ by the river. We had a good fire on the go, around which we hung our clothes and shoes with the hopes to dry them out and offend mosquitoes into hiding with the peculiar pluming odours.
We feasted on Masaman curry and rice, another perfectly cooked meal by Klong et al. I had to check back through photos to remember that, possibly because this was the night we ran out of Sang Som and started on the Lao Kao (Thai white whiskey known to turn you permanently blind if you drink more than a thimbleful at a time). We had a good sit around and the guys told us their stories, all funny, none of which can be repeated here. It seems like leeches don’t come out at night and the mozzies were only out around sundown, so the only biters I came across in the evening were the ants, the most painful bite by along shot, but fortunately not painful for too long.
Knowing we had only a bottle or so of water left, I kept mentioning we should probably boil some from the river, an opinion Phil seemed to share though no one else seemed at all bothered. I am not sure we saw any of the Thais drink anything other than Lao Kao the entire time (and Rich gave it a good go that night), but luckily by the morning we had a few bottles of smoky tasting river water to take us through our last day.
Because I busted the hammock at lunch time, I ended up sleeping on the broken one which cocooned me in a plastic sweat wrap all night while I listened to the sounds of the jungle, the snoring and Richard saying how awesome his hammock was. Because the ties had snapped, it was wrapped around the tree directly to the plastic so that any sudden move would have toppled me in the pitch black directly on to whatever lay beneath, waiting, glistening, hungry…..