So last Thursday I traveled to Bangkok to meet her. Now as far as I know, Liz has never expressed any desire to live in a hut for a week or to scramble through the jungle, but this is exactly what was in store for her.....and she did it marvellously.
Having flown to Thailand, she then caught the skytrain to the centre of Bangkok where we took a boat upriver, followed by a taxi to the bus station and finally a bus to Klang Dong. Five forms of transport in as many hours...not bad going.
A short road trip west saw us head to Kanchanaburi...a province of Thailand that I love. I wanted to show Liz the Thai-Burma Railway and take her to one of the best museums I know- the 'Hellfire Pass Museum'. Here on a 4km walk through woodland, along the old railway, you are accompanied (with the benefit of a headset), by some of the Australian PoWs who built the railway- informing you of the history of the place and recounting their memories. However, the landscape of Kanchanaburi at this time of year is very brown and dry and it is only seeing this, that makes me appreciated how green and lush our own corner of Thailand is- even at the end of a long dry season.
We arrived in the park around 9 and whilst I was busy fending off a none too friendly macaque, Deaw was finding a hornbill for us to admire. It flew picture perfect across the viewpoint - the swish of it's enormous wings making the spectacle more awe inspiring. Flyby over, it disappeared into the trees and we got back into the Land Rover. One kilometer further along, Deaw pulled to a halt. "Get out here and look at that tree" he instructed. "There's a hornbill's nest there and I think the one we just saw was headed this way". We did as told and sure enough, within a few minutes, the loud swish once again heralded the arrival of the Great hornbill. For ten minutes we watched as the male hornbill regurgitated it's morning's collection and fed the female and baby that were holed up inside the tree, completely dependent on the male's arrival.
Shortly afterwards, we entered the jungle. I was happily tramping along when Deaw came to an abrupt halt. He had heard something. As we listened carefully he pointed out a 'pok' sound, that happened every 30 seconds or so. "That's an elephant" we were told. How did he know? "It sounds like it is breaking branches", he said, but also commented that this was strange, as there was no bamboo in that area of the jungle. Another guide and is group came a long and, after a few minutes of conferring, they headed off the track and into the jungle overgrowth. Deaw had been right- it was an elephant- he was also right in that the sound wasn't from bamboo. The source of the'pok' sound was the elephant's ear - flapping intermittently against it's head as it wallowed happily in an area of mud, unaware of the humans that watched.
Come back soon Liz- there's plenty more to see :)