I didn't so much as wake this morning, more jumped out of my skin as the overly friendly carriage attendant grabbed my ankles and shook them to wake me up as we pulled into Surat Thani at 6AM.
Now very much awake, I hurriedly dressed and jumped out onto the platform with the rest of the group. We didn't go very far, just a few meters off of the platform to a row of cafes where we had breakfast before departing for our final destination.
We had a two hour, 120KM drive ahead of us and our transport for the journey was two songthaew's - pick up trucks with two rows of benches for seats in the flatbed.
Our destination was Khao Sok National Park, a 739 square KM area in the south west of Thailand.
As we drove we watched the landscape change to become more mountainous and the homes and shops that had lined the roads eventually petered out to give way to nothing but trees.
We arrived at out accomodation, the Morning Mist Guest House just in time to drop our bags and have lunch and then do whatever we pleased for the afternoon. The guesthouse is set right at the edge of the park and so I went to explore its grounds.
I walked past Banana trees, and flowers which were being visited by a necter drinking bird that I could not identify before coming to the rivers edge. I then followed the river until the forest grew too thick to walk without a trail, and then walked through what appeared to be a plantation before coming across a gravel path which I followed until I came back to the main road back to the village.
Although I was only gone for an hour or so, my clothes were soaked from the moisture hanging in the air of the forest. Well, I guess they don't name them rainforests for nothing. The guesthouse had a small pool and despite the heat and stickyness of the atmosphere it no-one was using it. I changed and jumped in swimming laps for an hour until the sky suddenly darkened and thunder erupted signalling the start of the afternoons rains.
Later I met the others and a few of us decided to hire a guide to take us into the rainforest that night where we would go looking for wildlife. Kitted out with whatever torches we could had with us, we trekked into the forest as a slow pace, our guides headlamps flashing everywhere as he looked for signs of life.
Life, as we could hear was all around us in every direction. Seeing it however, proved to be a very different task. We did manage to spot a couple of nesting birds, a large spider and a nesting scorpion but this was all we had to show for two and a half hours of walking around the forest.
It was an amazing contrast to Langkawi where it seemed harder to not find wildlife than seek it out.
We covered a fair old distance that night, and it left us thirsty so we stopped at the guesthouse bar on the way back, only to discover they had closed early. So instead of a cold beer, it turned into a cold shower and an early night.