Cheow Lan Lake, Thailand

SMS and I woke up fairly early a few minutes before our alarm.  I know, I know, an alarm on vacation?  But it’s been so worth it to do some of the mini-trips and tours that we’re ok with it!

We had a delicious breakfast at Our Jungle House.  The highlight was French Press coffee- so delicious!  I had an omelet with Thai pork in it and it was also tasty.  At 8:30, we headed to the open-air lobby down the trail from our treehouse.  The layout of the hotel was awesome  There are several houses around the garden and main building area and the rest are down a small paved trail.  Many of the rooms are along the river and so peaceful.  There’s a lot of space between hotels- not so many that you could look both ways and not see neighbors, but it’s enough to feel relaxed and spacious.

In the lobby were three other people, a British pair of friends(m/f) and an American who spends his Northern hemisphere Winters in New Zealand guiding wilderness and wildlife tours.  The British couple were on a 2 week tour similar to ours except they were staying in Thailand only.  The American was in Thailand for several days, then off to Borneo, Singapore, Japan and home to California.  We had all originally booked the overnight trip and were disappointed since it seemed so cool, but no one stayed down about it and we were off for a great day.

Scenes from the market

We hopped into a pickup cab and drove about 10-15 minutes to the local market.  There we wandered the stalls while our guide bought some snacks for later.  After 15 minutes, we went to the lake where we caught a longtail boat and went for about an hour across the lake.  It was an absolutely gorgeous place.  The lake is actually manmade, created by the Ratchaprapa Dam in 1982, two years after the area was declared a national park.  There are huge granite spires and cliffs emerging from the water that before the lake was created, would have been even 60 m higher.  As it was, they were still quite tall and imposing- and completely awe-inspiring.

We pulled into a small cove to hear some background on the lake.  When the motor was going, it was too loud.  The American had a decibel meter and said it was 95 dB, not ideal for hearing preservation but fortunately I had earplugs for SMS and I.

Tarantula Cave, yikes!  They were everywhere!

We took the boat to the lunch place where the guide shouted our order before heading over to a landing where a small trailhead existed for our trek to the Pakarang cave (coral cave).  We hiked one kilometer on a well-developed, unpaved trail to a small boat landing where we took a motorized bamboo raft over to the cave.  There, we walked up the hill to the cave entrance and it was spectacular.  The guide pointed out several beautiful formations.  Stalactites are actively growing in the cave and it’s really important not to touch the rock and disturb the process.  There are so many fantastical shapes and several of them “look” like animals, ice cream cones, shells, etc.  The stone is amazing with my favorite being the sparkles and “glitter” in some of the formations.  I tried to take some photos but really, it was a sight best experienced without a camera since it was impossible (for me) to take worthy photos.

L-R, clock-wise: broken stalactite, overhead shot of bamboo rafts, playing in the lake

After the cave hike, we retraced our video game-like journey (walk, hike, take a bamboo raft, hop in a boat- it felt like Zelda!), we went back to the floating bungalows for lunch and a swim.  It was so relaxing and beautiful!  Lunch consisted of fried fish, curry, vegetables, rice and fruit.  SMS and I swam out a ways to take in a full view of the lake and spent the rest of the time relaxing on semi-submerged, tethered logs.

L-R: Fruit snack before heading back, cloudier on the lake, happy couple!

We took a longtail boat back, followed by the pickup ride back.  The sky was beautiful in the golden hour/sunset.  We ate dinner at the resort and enjoyed our new treehouse, Liana.  The hotel comp’d our room since the overnight had been cancelled and even though it would have been cool to see sunrise and sunset at the lake, other night at Our Jungle House was a fine consolation prize!  The lake was absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend a visit.

After sunset from our balcony

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