Thai Days: Elephants and things in Khao Yai National Park


Hugh Paxton’s Blog likes Khao Yai National Park. It’s Thailand’s first National Park, is only two to three hours drive from Bangkok, and is full of huge mountains covered in gigantic trees. The views are stupendous! Spiritually uplifting! And every time I go there something very different happens.

The last time I went I rose early and while my beloved sister, two of her highly esteemed sons, my irreplaceable wife and my annoying daughter were on a wander in search of elephants, I elected to stay put on an elevated piece of land offering fine views of a valley.

This valley, which is seasonally clogged with very tall grass, has proved surprising in the past.

A pack of dhole, the red dogs Kipling brought to global attention in the Jungle Book, turned up for a hunt. An extraordinary spectacle. They jumped up and down to see over the high grass. I think we’ve got a blurry photo. I won’t bother you with it and I can’t be bothered looking for it.

Let imagination step in! Background? Dragon back peaks wreathed in constantly shifting mists and low cloud, the raucous honk of a hornbill, the drip of moisture on my head, a rather shivering sense of cold that is about to become very hot and there! Right in front and all around is a rainforest! And a pack of Dholes.


This time the hunting pack was elsewhere and I was forced to find alternative stimulation. A rather neat pile of dung. Looked like olives. Civet? Yes. Looked like that! I had found a latrine! I had a look at it and wondered what to do next.

There was a crash. More like a thunderbolt! A huge tree had fallen over. I’ve seen a rainforest tree fall over in Guatemala but it fell over slowly, reluctantly. About five minutes spent on its decline. This Thai giant spared the observer the suspense and fell over properly! The whole forest in its vicinity rippled uncomfortably. There were echoes from neighbouring peaks and cliffs.

It was dramatic! A Khao Yai moment!

Khao Yai specializes in moments. One visit – a billion fire flies blinking on and off with total precision. The forests were mad with light and magic. Another, a tick deeply embedded in my daughters eyelid and my mother in laws ear. Nice one!

Both extractions required minor surgery.

Some serious leech action on another visit. They get everywhere but like testicles!

And there was the elephant affair. We struggled through forest, and our guide who was a very serious sort of chap, was keen to show us an elephant. We found one. It was big.

Fair enough, that’s the point of being an elephant.

It was angry. And it had red eyes filled with fury. The guide grabbed my daughter and ran away, yelling “Run!”

Silly really. Trek to find an elephant, find one and then scarper praying the elephant doesn’t squash you.

It’s called eco-tourism.

Khao Yai is currently making headlines for two good reasons. The monkeys are becoming over confident because tourists keep giving them food. This has encouraged monkeys to raise the bar and stop being cute. Did you see the latest Planet of the Apes movie? Not quite like that. The monkeys don’t have guns and can’t ride war horses. Yet. But evolution is a consistent challenge and constantly throws up unwelcome initiatives.

The elephants aren’t in this jostle for a banana or a packet of Phad Thai flavoured crisps. They wish to assert themselves and if a car gets in the way they weigh two tons more. A magnificent photo on the front page of the Bangkok Post (they’ve got a website, you can see it for yourself) shows an elephant kicking a car. Another elephant barged into the park staff canteen but nobody had a camera. That’s life for you! Missed opportunities!

Don’t miss the Khao Yai opportunity.

Give this fabulous place a visit. Anything could happen!

Hugh, Bangkok

Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: