Day 3 - Spectacular Cheow Lan Lake, Koh Sok National Park

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July 11th 2014
Published: July 11th 2014
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Well I'm not sure what the highlight of today was as looking back now, it all feels like a dream!!! Let me try and explain in words what we all experienced ...

Thankfully the driver I had arranged yesterday arrived promptly at our hotel and was waiting for us when we arrived at Reception. He seemed nice and friendly but we were all laughing at the start of the trip because he had a strange way of driving the minivan ... he seemed to accelerate on and off the whole time. We felt like we were rocking on a boat - but it was forward and backward ... not side to side!

After a little while of driving he stopped on the roadside and asked what exactly we wanted to do. I explained some of the things I had read about and he told us we would need a guide for those things - but that he could help us if we wanted him too. There was no "day trips" by tour operators that went to the Lake and combined all the highlights. Mostly you have to stay for 1-2 nights on the Lake ... but we wanted to maximise our day as it was a 2 hour drive from the Resort. Anyway, we thought that was a great idea for our driver (his name was Yute) and we drove all the way to the Pier at Cheow Lan Lake. This area is a very large dam that was built in the middle of Koh Sok National Park not too long ago but the surrounding mountains are tree lined limestone cliffs - absolutely spectacular! The water is an emerald green colour and it is also absolutely spectacular!

The Pier was "crazy busy" and our driver, Yute, told us lots of Thai people would be visiting the Lake today because the Thai people have a religious holiday for 3 days - today, Saturday and Sunday. He was right!!! Thankfully he had phoned ahead and we had a longtail boat and driver waiting ready for us to step aboard and set off on the lake.

We cruised for about 1/2 hour - through a couple of tropical showers - and then were told to "swap boats." We really had no idea what was happening or why ... but we relocated in the middle of the lake from one boat to another - an interesting experience but thankfully none of us fell in. The passengers on the other boat did the same. When we set off again Yute told us that the driver of the second boat was his mate so that's why he wanted to swap!

A little further along we pulled up near some floating huts which were also attached to a floating restaurant. Yute called out and ordered some food for us to come back to for lunch. I love a forward thinker 😊 We noticed some people swimming and kayaking in the water around these huts and we were excited that we too would be able to do the same a little later.

We eventually stopped and disembarked .... and were directed uphill through the rainforest on a walking track. This was a walk I had read about .... "up and over a hill." Well it was a "tough" walk and I was beginning to worry that it might be too hard for the kids (especially Dylan) and also Mum and Dad. I admit it was not easy. This was made harder by the fact that it is wet season so the path was wet. In some areas it was very very slippery and very very muddy! To summarise ... we all made it without any dramas ... although there were a couple of people with muddy bottoms (from slipping over on a downhill). Can I add that one of those people was Yute himself!!!!!

At the bottom of the "other side" of the "hill" (and about 3/4 hour later) we sat on some floating bamboo on the Lake again and cleaned ourselves up. We had mud all over our thongs (yes we had quality walking shoes on) and some on their clothes 😊.

Next was a ride on a bamboo raft across the water to the Coral Caves. These were quite amazing and we were lucky to see lots of stalactites and stalagmites. The most amazing thing was that the walls in some areas were covered in coral! Apparently at some stage in the past (obviously many hundreds of years ago) these caves were under the ocean. It was simply breathtaking to see!

We had to reverse our trip from that point ... so it was back in the bamboo raft and also back "up and over" the hill. Again a fun walk but I think we mastered it second time over - it was much less eventful for everyone! Thankfully at the end no one was injured ... Mum (who has had a bad knee in the past) even said her knee felt good (which I was thankful for). We are all feeling a little "stiff and sore" as our legs are not normally skiing on mud (and I'm not joking when I say this as it happened quite a lot!) so we will be thankful for our massage tomorrow 😊 I must mention that Yute was very good in helping us with the tricky areas and he was so caring - keeping a careful eye on Mum (who he called Mama), Dad (who he called Popa) and also the boys (especially Dylan and Blake).

Anyway from there it was back in the longtail boat and we cruised back to the floating restaurant for lunch. We were pretty hungry by then after all our adventures so we hooked into some local delicacies. We saw the fish swimming underneath us as we ate two of their fish friends. I'm sure they were plucked out of the water earlier today especially for us 😊

Swimming in the lake was very refreshing and the water was amazing. I'm sure we destroyed the peace for a while as our boys were bomb diving and having a great time in the water (as they always do). It pays on trips like this to have water safe children and we were thankful for that so that we could enjoy a swim and then relax watching them expend the rest of their energy.

It was a nice calm trip back to the pier in the boat and it was sad to see the Lake disappear as we left. It will be something I will always remember. The sight of the place was truly majestic!!

On the way home we found out the chairs in the minibus reclined quite a lot so all of the males in the van fell asleep (except Yute of course!). I think Mum and I had our motherly instinct working in overdrive again and we stayed awake "on guard" so to speak. Actually with the boys all sleeping we acted as the pillows etc for them so it simply was not possible to get comfortable to fall asleep ourselves 😊

Yute dropped us back to a local Restaurant for a quick meal after the 2 hour trip home and we returned to the resort ready for a quiet and early night.

It really was a spectacular day ... and for us this is what attracts us to travel. When you can meet local people and let them share their country with you it really is fantastic. We much prefer to do it "the local way" rather than through an organised tour. I know in some instances this is not possible. But today what we were able to do would not have been possible on an organised tour. Also, when you do it the "local way" you get a true sense of what places are like without the "glossy" price tag and brochure. It sometimes takes some research at home before we come ... but days like today make it all so worth it!!!

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