We had a great weekend escape to Huai Yang Waterfall Park in Thailand's southern Prachuap Kiri Khan province led by Simon of Travelled Paths.
Day 1 - Singapore to Bangkok and Huai Yang National Park
We flew into Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport via AirAsia Flight FD 350 arriving at 10:50pm on a Wednesday.
A comfortable van took us straight from the airport to the Huai Yang Waterfall Park headquarters. Huai Yang is 350 km south of Bangkok and the journey took about 4 hours by road.
On arrival, we rested the night inside these tents pitched for us at Huai Yang Waterfall Park headquarters. Nothing like a hotel bed, but these tents were comfortable and all of us slept soundly.
Day 2 - The Climb to Summit Base Camp
We were awakened by the chorus of birds and cockerels. There are good showers and toilet facilities here.
We started the day with a Thai style home cooked breakfast. My trek mates (from left) Aini, Pat, Chueng, Irene and Simon. Most of the photos in this post are by the courtesy of my trek mates :-D Thank you buddies!
We had that vital mound of tender boiled white rice with fried egg, chicken and some stir fried vegetables. There was chicken soup for the soul too.
A group photo with our guides and park rangers before setting off :-D
The park ranger is armed with an assault rifle, in case of wild animals like boars, bears, leopards and tigers.
Here we go :-D
Huai Yang is famed for it's waterfalls but we didn't get to see any of them as this was the dry season. We did see several ponds with clear water and filled with shoals of large darting Tinfoil barbs.
Very quickly, we were confronted by steep inclines.
As soon as we started to attack the slopes, I regretted my decision to join this trek. But, as I've committed to this trek, there was no other way but UP.
It was a tough slog for me and it felt as though about half the climb was this steep.
A lot of the leaves had fallen, so the scorching sun rays penetrated to the ground.
After a 6 hour ordeal, we reached the base camp.
Here was where we had dinner and rested for the night before attacking the summit the next morning.
First things first. We couldn't resist catching a nap on the rocks even as the sun blazed above.
While some of us slept, some play.
Our wonderful guides prepared dinner for us, Thai cowboy style.
We bonded over seafood 1,300 metres above sea level under a full moon. We are grateful for the sumptuous and scrumptious dinner our guide prepared for us.
I am so grateful to have such sporting and fun loving trekking mates.
The pain of the climb was quickly forgotten and we enjoyed each other's company tremendously, not to mention the beautiful scenery and the sense of achievement of reaching the top.
Day 3 - Up to the Top, down again and back to Bangkok
We spent the night in these tents. I slept like a log, disturbing the animals and confused the chirping crickets (with my snoring) :-D
Breakfast before we assaulted the summit.
Fully rested, tummies full, we climbed to the top full of confidence.
Two hours of climbing finally brought us to the summit. The ground was parched as this was the dry season.
From here at the border with Myanmar, we could look into Karen territory in the distance.
Finally, I was smiling instead of grimacing as we began our descend :-D
Going downhill has it own challenges. My toes were jamming against my toe caps despite tight lacing. The steep slippery slopes paved with dried leaves and loose sand punished the joints and muscles.
Resting at one of the many streams as we made our way down the hill. We were withering under the sweltering sun and stalked by persistent sand flies and bees.
Throughout our climb up and down, we were stalked by pesky bees and sand flies. No real danger, just quite irritating. The bees, they say are attracted by the salt in our sweat. I got a sting when I tried to brush one off my arm. The sand flies were more obnoxious. They sting and leave a bloody smudge. Their sting is quite painful too.
Thankfully, there were no wasps, hornets or leeches.
Finally, we made it back to Huai Yang Waterfall Park headquarters.. Here we washed up and proceeded for our lunch at Huai Yang beach about 30 minutes drive away.
Enjoying the turquoise sea at Huai Yang beach while our lunch was being prepared.
Our best meal of the entire trip was at Huai Yang Beach Club. Despite the rather pretentious name, it's a little beach side restaurant. The food was excellent. Simple Thai classics like tom yam, lime steamed sea bass, spicy fried fish cakes, stir fried squids. The ingredients were super fresh and simply done home cooked style. The food was delicious, the company made the meal marvellous.
After our lunch, we drove about 4 hours from Huai Yang to Yaowarat in Bangkok.
Checked into our rooms at the rest house in Yaowarat. But, we couldn't stay in our rooms.
Our tired feet itched.
We couldn't resist the bright lights, buzz and legendary food at the Yaowarat main street.
Yaowarat main street is now a tourist trap, jam packed with visitors. Places to sit down are hard to come by and street food prices are 30% to 50% higher than less touristy parts of Bangkok.
Day 4 -
We did have a detail food trail itinerary but I am not one who likes to follow scripts, especially if it is my own ;-p
And, fortunately, this group of like minded free spirits agreed readily that we shall refer to the itinerary only as a last resort and freed ourselves to explore the streets of Bangkok for food and anything that catches our fancy.
We had brekky at the back streets of Yaowarat. Our no itinerary plan worked really well. We enjoyed our street side brekky of simple Thai style spring rolls, fish ball bee hoon soup, kopi and teh ice :-D We also love mingling with the friendly locals.
We confidently paced the streets of Bangkok with no particular agenda because we knew that there are fascinating things to see, smell, hear, touch and feel at every corner.
We joined queues whenever we stumbled upon one, like good Singaporeans.
This was a traditional Teochew pastry shop near Yaowarat, making old school biscuits we don't see in Singapore anymore.
So, we kissed frogs, gawked at piggy faces, learnt to fry aromatic pork lard Thai style and stumbled on some unmentionables.....
Then we did what every Singapore tourist to Bangkok must do..... the obligatory shopping pilgrimage to Pratunam lo.
It's Pratunam ad nauseum (very sian) for me but fortunately we were able to squeeze in a good traditional Thai massage that soothed everything, especially my crying muscles :-D
After the shopping and massage, we suddenly crashed - realised that we were drowsy and dead tired. So, we settled on a random Thai restaurant in Central Mall, rather than try to track down the best one.
The dinner started off on an hilarious note as we tried to order food. The friendly wait staff spoke little English and we were deaf and dumb in Thai ;-p
We had a great time laughing all the way through our sumptuous dinner. We had a great dinner, proving once again that an awesome meal is as much about the company as the food.
When in Bangkok, I love to take the river boats whenever possible.
The boats go to most of the attractions, fast, more fun, and gives a unique water level perspective. Fare 10 baht - no need to haggle with taxi drivers who refuse to use the fare meter, no traffic jams and no chance of being waylaid by unscrupulous tuk tuk drivers to some for-commission nonsense like "jewelry factories".
Back at the hotel, we chilled out at the roof top bar overlooking the Chao Phraya river and the majestic Wat Arun in the distance.
Day 5 - The journey home
We took a taxi from our rest house in Yaowarat to Don Mueang Airport before day break. The taxi driver allowed meter use and the fare came to 220 Baht.
(The previous night, when we were returning from Pratunam to Yaowarat, the taxi drivers demanded flat fees of between 200 Baht to 300 Baht. We couldn't find any taxi driver who would use the fare meter.) Next time, if I stay in Yaowarat, I will take the canal boats back (last trip about 6:00pm) and have a nice dinner in Yaowarat instead.
Don Mueang Airport was extremely busy, so we were glad that we arrived at the airport well ahead of time for boarding procedures.
We returned to Singapore from Don Mueang via AirAsia FD 359, arriving in Singapore on schedule at 10:35am on Sunday.
->> This short trek to Thailand's Huai Yang Waterfall Park rekindled my love for hiking. I felt great reconnecting with nature and bonding with trek mates. I appreciate the great workout too (though it always felt like self torture during the climb itself ;-p ). I hope to combine future food trails with short treks like this as a healthy lifestyle activity :-D
Simon organises regular trips like this. If you like to join Simon's trekking trips, you can keep up to date on upcoming hikes by following Travelled Paths' Facebook page <- click.
Date: 23 - 27 Mar 2016
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