Camping in Lan Sang and King Taksin National Park
The embers glowed as a gentle breeze passed through the forest, bringing life to the leaves as they rustled in the darkness, falling on occasion. I tossed and turned in the tent as if fighting the humidity of the night which clung to my skin with no signs of letting go. My body cried for sleep yet my mind was sprinting a marathon, creating its journey based on un-related events of the previous day. I knew I shouldn’t have drank that coffee, I thought, the punishment seemed ever-lasting.
I suddenly woke – or so I think – as the morning light shone through the forest, casting a shadow of cobwebs over my tent from the branches above. I was tired; very tired, but the heat of the tent was increasing rapidly, forcing me out into the fresh morning air which was clearly the better option.
The waterfalls of Lan Sang National Park were its highlight, falling gracefully through the forest, attracting wildlife of various sorts. As I climbed the dirt trail leading alongside the falls, the opportunities to bathe were endless, a more than welcome relief from the strenuous climb. Slowing my pace to a soundless creep brought the life of the forest before my eyes enabling me to take beautiful shots of the wildlife and insects which flourished around me.
Talking of insects, they paid me a visit on the final night, waking me up with a bite. Ants were marching everywhere like they’d found a new home in my tent, biting me like I was the foreigner. I escaped the tent in record speed, clutching the bare minimum to survive the outer outdoors. Assessing the side of the tent with my torch gave light to a clear invasion, it was black with ants. After sweeping them off in verbal disgust I chose a nearby bench as my new home, and prepared my skin with mosquito repellent for the next invasion. It was going to be a long, long night.
– Morning comes –
Yet another car passed by. Some waved apologetically as their car rode full, some beeped their horns, others looked and stared whilst others didn’t even look. It was my first time hitchhiking, and what a place to start. I’d read that hitchhiking in Thailand was dangerous, but I just couldn’t believe it. I had to find out first hand. I didn’t see a point in starting to walk so I just stood outside the exit to the national park with my thumb pointing towards my next destination – King Taksin National Park, located about twenty minutes up the hill, high up in the forest.
It didn’t take long until a man around my own age pulled up just beside me. “Where you go?” he asked. “King Taksin,” I replied clearly, pointing to my map to clarify. “Okay, okay,” he said, gesturing me inside. “Wow, that was easy,” I thought as I sat down clutching my bag to my chest. He turned down the music to talk but burnt out pretty quickly on his English conversation skills. I turned the music back up; it was Thai, a refreshing change to my usual selection. He dropped me off inside the national park where I thanked him greatly for his kindness. He smiled back, as if somewhat proud to have helped me out.
The camping areas of King Taksin National Park gave sweeping views of the surrounding forest and hillside. The grounds were well maintained, and the place I chose to pitch my tent had a little area where I could make a fire. I was a happy bunny. Wondering around the grounds, it turned out I wasn’t the only happy bunny, many rabbits had taken up residence in the park, hopping around freely in search of their next carrot. Not the same could be said about the Asiatic bear which they kept locked up in a cage. I felt sorry for him; my only hope was that he knew not of a life of free will.
The park’s main attraction was a humongous tree which could be reached by a one hour trek through the jungle. Upon reaching it, it quickly surpassed my expectations. I could only compare it to the size of my arms when I used to go the gym. Trekking in the jungle is a cool experience, you truly are encapsulated in another world yet the amount of bugs that swarm my face irritate my enough for me to realise that my trekking environment is best suited to that of a mountainous landscape where freedom transpires stronger than anywhere else. Throughout my stay there were bouts of thunder which rumbled in the valley below, yet the rain held off over the peaks, until the last day that was.
I awoke, confused by the sound of muffled drops falling on my tent. A mist of fine rain filled the air. I removed my earplugs, and was welcomed by the thumping sounds of hard rain. “Hoooly SHIT!” I said out loud as I prepared for a full evacuation. I sat in the office of the park headquarters wet to the bone, feeling sorry for myself. It was six o’clock in the morning, and I was slightly relieved that I didn’t have to sit there all night. I tried to dry out my things in the morning but a heavy fog covered the area, leaving everything damp and rather miserable, including myself.
As I sat under shelter pondering my next move, a motorbike pulled up beside me, and off stepped a woman and little girl who quickly introduced themselves as Wendeth and Ezza. They had come to the park for a day trip which quickly became sour as they climbed through the heavy rain into the park. They weren’t planning on hanging around, and either was I. We shared destinations which funnily enough turned out to be the same. Lucky for me, Wendeth offered me a ride which I didn’t expect considering there would be three of us on the bike.
We escaped the cloud as we rode down the hill, where the heat of the sun could finally dry my clothes. The weight of my pack had doubled leaving me thankful this time for the conveniences of a town as a shelter from the rain and a place to dry out. The bike soldiered on under the punishing weight of its load, climbing hills at the speed of a turtle. One question lingered in my mind on our roller coaster ride to the border town of Mae Sot. I wonder what word the Thai people had mistaken for waterproof? My tent had failed me. Considering how wet I was, I would have been better off sleeping under the waterfall.
Catch you all soon guys,
Love Jonathan x
Backpackers Tips and Advice
Buy a double layered tent if you’re planning to camp where there’s a chance of rain, especially on high peaks.
Both Lan Sang and King Taksin National Parks sit between Tak and Mae Sot. You can reach either by catching a minibus to Mae Sot from Tak, and jumping out at the turn off point to the national park of choice.
The small restaurant in both Lan Sang and King Taksin shut about 4pm but you can ask for take-out for your evening meal so it’s never a problem.
Both parks charge 200 baht entry and renting a tent will cost around 300 baht and more if you want a sleeping bag, etc. You can see the prices on my up to date list of how much things cost in Thailand.
The only attractions within the King Taksin National Park are the big tree and a waterfall. Don’t be deceived by the website which I’ve heard lists many other attractions.