We unfortunately overslept and subsequently rushed to pack up our gear and get some breakfast. Today we are travelling to Chiaw Lan Lake on a tour arranged from Our Jungle House. The lake was created with the building of a dam in the 60′s and we have read previously about the somewhat negative impact it had on the wildlife and plantlife. Still the lake is apparently very beautiful and Klaus assures us it will be one of the highlights of our time spent in the Thai jungle.
Our travelling companions will be Bonny, Bina and Lauren; they are all travelling around Thailand. Bonny is from America and is holidaying for a few weeks and Bina and Lauren are on their way to Laurens home country Australia, before they return to their jobs in the UK. It’s great that there are only 7 of us on the minivan and we stop off on the way at the ATM to get some cash and a snack of sticky rice and coconut wrapped in banana leaves straight off the grill.
After an hour we arrive at the pier and get on an open topped longtail boat, the scenery is stunning .The cliffs were originally coral reefs on the bottom of the seabed and were pushed up to the surface by plate movement over 225 million years ago. We watch out for wildlife and our guide Daeng points out some rustling trees where monkeys are swinging. We arrive at the rafthouse accommodation we have booked as part of our tour. The rafthouses are made of bamboo and float precariously along a line, attached to a platform. It is without a doubt the most “rustic” place we have stayed in and it looks really great. To our delight Daeng tells us we 7 are at present the only guests. How fabulous, we joke about being VIP’s in a little known celebrity hideout. We inch along the bamboo platform and as it is safe to swim here, waste no time stripping off to our swim gear and diving in. The water is so warm like a bath and we have great time splashing around in the deep clear green waters.
After lunch we get back into the longtail and Daeng takes us for a walk in the jungle. At around 40 minutes it is a complete “walk in the park” for us in comparison to our trek to see the Rafflesia yesterday and we make our way along quite well. Included in our trip is a bamboo raft ride. We have been on these long and graceful rafts before in Thailand but this one has a motor and before long we arrive at the entrance to a cave. Daeng and the other guide have brought fluorescent lighting with them and light the way for us and we stare up in awe at the stalactite and stalagmite rock formations. We have strict instructions not to touch anything and take even more care with our footsteps when Daeng shows us a massive spider.
As we motor back on the longtail boat the sky begins to change colour. The clear blue gives way to black and navy and we listen to the rolling thunder of the storm in the distance. The heavy skies are hot and humid and we hope it will pass else I guess we will be in for a wet and noisy night.
We dive into the lake as soon as we get back; Bina can’t swim but takes a lifebelt from the boat and very bravely gets in and has a float. Simon and Ali take the kayaks out on to the lake but return quickly as the wind gets stronger and small waves start to ripple across the calm, glassy surface of the water. By now it is quite cool and after dressing into warmer gear we get some food, steamed rice, a large fried fish, gaeng mussaman curry and steamed vegetables with fresh fruit for pudding. Yum!
Ali plays his guitar for a while and then everyone plays a card game called Backpacker except me who reads OK magazine. We have a toast to travelling, it’s been really great meeting Bina, Lauren and Bonny and we exchange email addresses with them in the hope of keeping in touch. They make us offers to contact them when we reach Australia and the US and we threaten that we might be begging for a cheap bed by then.