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After a night in an on-brand hotel in Bangkok to wash the jet-lag away, it was time to find a minibus going to Pak Chong, the gateway city to the national park north-east of Bangkok. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of mini-busses spread out over an area roughly the size of Boston Common. Destination names are written only in the Thai alphabet, and drivers do not speak english. To add to the confusion, the directions I found online to the correct bus seemed out of date - it had moved. Cue 30 minutes of Cian wandering around, murmuring “Pak Chong” to anybody who would listen, but eventually I found it.
The bus cost 160 baht, wasn’t particularly cramped (even though they insist on the bus leaving full), and the driver seemed perfectly safe - a far cry from the horror stories I’ve heard.
On the way, I got my first glimpse of the countryside - and saw my first rice paddy, complete with people working in bamboo hats! Whilst I realise this must be the equivalent of seeing a farmer in a cornfield in Idaho, this was novel to me.
It was interesting to see the landscape of the automotive market here. A Toyota Hilux with chrome handles & rims seems roughly equivalent to the American Dream - there’s a real affinity to all things chrome. Pickups are king, but entirely Japanese made, smaller (..more reasonable? ahem) models destined for the European market, all Diesel.
Pak Chong is a small city, which appears to be mostly centered around a main thoroughfare which proves somewhat difficult to cross. One resounding theme on Pak Chong is there is very little information online, and any information I did find is out-of-date. This lead to, much alike the bus, me wanding up the main street asking if any store with a collection of scooters outside would rent me one! Thankfully, it didn’t take long - for 300thb I had a (pink) scooter, and more importantly, a helmet. Of course, I didn’t mention that I had never ridden a scooter before, so busy city streets were to be my introduction. Still, I figured it out pretty quick, and set off towards the national park. The night market proved particularly rewarding, feasting on a 3-course meal for 90 baht.
Heo Suwat Waterfall Over the course of the next two trips, I explored Khao Yai. The highlight of this was the Heo Suwat waterfall, a gentle walk downhill from the car park and well sign posted. The park is home to Elephants, Tigers and Bears - although the only novelty exotic wildlife I saw was lots of Baboons. The scenery through the park was stunning, however. I’d have liked more time to explore some of the trails.
After my two nights in Pak Chong, it was time to return by mini-bus to Bangkok, and catch a flight from DMK to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Canal, Don Mueang Since I had 4 hours of downtime before my flight, I explored the village of Don Mueang across the street. There’s a small canal with resteraunts located along it, and an abundance of street food along the main street - a comfortable walk highly recommended instead of waiting at the airport.
Minibus to Pak Chong: 160thb (each way), $4.50
Hotle Rim Tarn Inn, Pak Chong 940thb, $26.
24hr scooter rental 300thb, $8.30.
Night Market Street-Food 110thb, $3.
Fuel to/from Khao Yai 180thb, $5. Khao Yai Park Day Entry - 1p + motorbike 430thb, $12.