Khao Yai National Park During Buddhist Lent (Rainy Season – Summer) 2010, Thailand
This was a very pleasant day-long trip to a small part of Thailand’s well-known Khao Yai National Park, which is located to the northeast of Bangkok and now takes less than 3 hours travel by car.
Khao Yai National Park consists of a complicated series of mountain ranges on the southwestern edge of the Khorat Plateau. While most of the park lies within the province of Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), portions of it span the provinces of Prachin Buri, Nakhon Nayok, and Saraburi. The area is so topographically rich that it is the source of 5 key rivers in the area: The Prachin Buri River, Nakhon Nayok River, Lam Ta Khong River, Praplerng River, and Muag Lek Stream.
Like in the rest of upper Thailand, Khao Yai has three main seasons: (1) the humid, rainy season lasts from May to October, and is fed by the wet, moisture-laden southwesterly monsoon. This is the season when the flora and fauna flourish the most amidst the abundant precipitation and moisture. (2) The relatively cool season lasts from November to February, and is dominated by the cool, dry northeasterly monsoon that originates from Siberia and arrives in Thailand via Mongolia and China. This is the ideal season for visitors as the weather is relatively cool, dry, and sunny. Night-time lows can drop to 10 degrees Celsius during this season. (3) March to May is the hot season, but the area does not experience the intense heat felt elsewhere in Thailand due to its altitude. The weather during this three-month interval is generally warm, dry, and windy. Moreover, waterfalls and streams may be reduced to a trickle or even run dry by April.
I visited my favorite, secluded Thai Buddhist temple which is nestled among the verdant, green hills surrounding Khao Yai National Park. This temple houses a group of Buddhist monks whose main focus is on meditation and dharma, and has one of the best views of the surrounding peaks that I’ve ever seen. Despite a relatively light monsoon so far, the surrounding peaks were very lush and green, which contrast nicely with the clear blue sky above. The air here is markedly cooler and lighter compared to the dense, steamy, and humid atmosphere of Bangkok.
The Buddhist temple I visited was very serene, surrounding by thickly forested mountains on the outer edges of Khao Yai National Park.
At the temple, I became a fan of this lazy black cat, which greeted us every time I visited the temple:
Khao Yai National Park has the following major types of flora and fauna: Dry evergreen and deciduous forest cover the lower slopes of the mountains, while tropical moist evergreen forests cover most of the park (approximately 70%), including the central area. Hill evergreen forests cover mountains and hills whose elevations lie above 1,000 meters. Grasslands also abound in certain areas, and are key grazing grounds for many local animals. Due to its varied flora and fauna, the park is biologically very rich and diverse.
Along the side road that leads to the hilltop temple are many hillside hotels, resorts, and villas for those who wish to enjoy some respite from the heat, hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Also along the way are numerous stalls selling fresh-picked local produce such as papayas, grapes, dragon fruits, mangoes, corn, onions, garlic, and dried chilies.
Towards the end of this visit, I enjoyed dinner at my favorite steakhouse, the Diary Home Restaurant, which is located right on the corner where the winding road exits into the Mitraphap Highway that links Bangkok to northeastern Thailand.
The Diary Home Restaurant offers a wide range of tasty steaks and foods, with my favorite being the ostrich steak, crispy fried “oringe” mushrooms in tempura batter, home-made red-wine sausages, and the wide selection of home-made ice creams: my favorite flavors being the lychee white wine, strawberry red wine, and the blue herbal “anchan.”
On the way back to Bangkok, I stopped in Saraburi town to buy a wide selection Thai-style crispy-fried curry puffs (called “karipap” in Thai, somewhat similar to Indian samosas). My favorite fillings for the curry puffs are chicken curry. In the town of Saraburi, a line of shops specialize in this delicious treat, for which the province is so famous for:
These tasty crispy curry puffs of Saraburi are famous local products, and have been for decades. They consist of the following fillings: chicken potato curry (original), pork, mushrooms, sweet taro, pineapple, and more.
Well, as a garden enthusiast, I noticed some unique plants along the roadside gardens in front of Saraburi’s curry puff shops:
Another photo of the roadside garden. One of the shops was kind enough to give me a bunch of “Nakaraj” cacti/succulent plants for propagation in my Bangkok garden. Kudos to them, and my heartfelt thanks!
It was around 9 p.m. by the time I reached Bangkok, and yet I’m planning to return to Khao Yai again, and again!
Happy Traveling, Wherever You Are, and Wherever You May Be!
Lat (Ratasit C.)