The trip from Cherating to Taman Negara National Park was quite an adventure in itself. We left today at 9am, changed buses four times and arrived at our destination a little after 7pm. On the last bus journey, we met a pleasant Canadian couple that are traveling SE Asia for about six weeks and today is day number 4. Over dinner and breakfast the next day we had a good time sharing various travel stories.
We mainly came to Taman Negara to walk over the 530 meter long suspension bridge (40 meters high). We hit the bridge first thing but I was mildly disappointed to find out that half of the bridge was under repair. We spent a couple hours on a light day hike in the park. The Canadian couple chose to hike deep into the park to overnight at a hide in hopes of seeing rare wildlife. We were contemplating doing this tomorrow.
The hike we did was nice but not too scenic. However, 20 minutes into the hike we had to keep brushing off little worms from our clothes and shoes. Once we realized that the trails were basically infested with leeches we make a hasty departure and called it a day. We arrived back at the park headquarters to find the Canadians sitting on a curb with swollen and bloody feet. They said they weren't in any pain, they had just gotten a few bites from some leeches. A few bites!...it looked like something burrowed holes in their feet. The picture that is posted is from one leech bite on my foot. They each had AT LEAST 20. I'm not kidding.
Apparently, they set out on the hike but after a couple of hours they noticed leeches on (and in) their sandals. They had only brought one pair of shoes. Wrap around sandals made by Keene. They decided to press on in hopes that the trail would be better farther along. This was not the case and they had to stop every 5 minutes to pull the leeches off their feet, especially in between their toes. To make matters worse, the guy had a pretty bad case of the shits from the hot and spicy curry the night before. (Cynthia ate the same curry and ran down into a ravine on the hike this morning to 'expel'. Fortunately, she didn't have loads of leeches to deal with). Poor guy with leeches sucking his blood, fully loaded backpack, had to squat down in the middle of a stream to relieve himself. Clothes and pack could not be taken off because of the poor trail conditions from the recent rain. They finally made it to a river access where two girls were getting dropped off by a boat. They quickly paid the boatman his fee and got a ride back to park headquarters. They did see a panther and met some aboriginals living in the jungle but they said, "it just wasn't worth it."
As we listened to their horrific tale, I kept thinking how lucky we were not to have been bitten. Although we saw plenty of leeches, we were able to get them off without much trouble and get out of the woods unscathed.(or so we thought!) Right about that time I took off my shoes (just to be sure) and saw a huge bloody spot on my sock. When I pulled off my sock, a fat leech fell to the ground. Apparently, he was full (of my blood) and had already stopped sucking. Leeches inject a substance into the wound that prevents natural blood clotting so.....the bleeding continued. While we were getting ready for dinner the Canadians came to our room to ask for some band-aids. I looked down to see that they had tried to stop the bleeding with toilet paper, to no avail, so there was a bloody trail of footprints and bits of tissue paper all the way down the hall from their room. We invited them into our room and pulled out all of our band-aids. With blood running down their feet and onto the floor we had to work fast. We came up with a pretty good system of pulling off the tissue, wiping the wound, applying Neosporin and a band-aid, all in about 3 seconds. We used every single band-aid (big, small, round, butterfly). Afterwards, our room looked like a triple homicide crime scene. We all decided that night that it was time to leave Taman Negara. Too bad, we were headed South and they were headed North so we said our good-byes and wished them well. We all departed the next morning.