I guess you might have seen pictures of Guilin China, or Halong Bay in Vietnam. They both have these unworldly tall skinny vertical hills that come out of nowhere and rise up from flat fields, or right out of the water. They are made of lmestone karst, and are strangely weathered. The Chinese have wonderful landscape paintings of them.
Well, Khao Sok has taller, more dramatic karst than any I saw in Halong Bay, or have seen pictures of in Guilin. The cliffs tower up for 900 and even 1100 feet right out of the water. Since this is a rainforest environment, trees and ferns grow out of cracks in the rock so there may be trees with a trunk of 16″ or more growing out of cracks half way up the cliff.
To top things off there are monkeys, giant hornbill birds, and a rich fish life.
We went by boat maybe 10 miles up the lake to a national forest cabin site. The cabins float on the water, and just watching the light change, and listening to the wildlife is entrancing. Supper is at a co-op dining room which employs some local folks. The menu was fruit of the lake, and good greens all spiced up Thai style.
Again the beds are hard as rocks, but the view by moon light made me not want to sleep until the moon went down at midnight.
At the crack of dawn a few of us went out in canoes to watch the sunrise, and spot monkeys and birds. Canoe is a kind word. The boats are maybe 9 feet long, squatty rounded things with seats in the wrong place and paddles that are short, really short, say 3′ or less. No good handle, just a stick. The upshot is that inexperienced boaters had a hard time not going in circles. While the light was still dim two folks ended up in the drink, maybe 50 yards out, and had to swim the boat back.
This isn’t as bad as it sounds, since the water is just glorious. Just the right temperature, and soft to the skin since the whole lake in limestone.
So Barb and I got our turn and did ourselves proud. We managed to go straight, with a lot of work, and crossed the lake and just enjoyed the sun hitting the top of the ridges and listening to the monkeys howl at the top of the cliffs.
I would just love to go here in a nice kayak, or a good lake canoe.