2019 tour travel blog

Saturday 12th Oct

Lots of visitors come to the house during the day, various coloured squirrels (grey, brown, white, black), come to entertain us when they get their daily half-apple and half orange, but they are very shy and will disappear at the slightest movement. There is a beautiful black and russet Greater Coucal, he looks like a crow, but is actually a member of the cuckoo family. Geckos and sparrows add to the noise, especially the geckos.

We are off on a roadie today, that takes us a good 100km away to Phu Pha Man, where the bat cave (Klang Khao cave) is famous for its large daily exodus of bats at dusk, making a formation kilometres long. Tony’s Dad had been here a few years ago and loved it, so we were thrilled to also have the opportunity.

We have a wee stop at petrol station to fill up, and also to get beer before the 2pm deadline, but there is no beer at the 7-11 (panic!!). The men’s urinals are open air, there are no side or back walls! Not even some tall plants across the back to hide us from the workers in the fields next door. Still an unusual feeling having a pee in public like this, even if we do occasionally pee on the side of the road in times of dire need.

We are relieved to come across a supermarket, and rush in to buy a box of beer, just minutes to spare, 600 baht, $30 for 12 large 650ml bottles, around $2.60 each. There is not a lot of price competition between stores, although sometimes there are promotions, but generally the price from store to store is very similar.

As continue on we are astounded by the loading of vehicles, tuk tuks, scooters and utes are all overflowing to the extent that sometimes you can see neither vehicle nor driver. We see lots of elephant crossing signs, but no elephants, so maybe they cannot read, and don’t know this is where they should cross?

Late lunch near our destination is at Ban Non Khom, with peaceful views over the rice paddies. While we were careful to tell them “mi patchee” (not sure of the spelling), they get the message not to put coriander in the food (Karen is the only one who likes it), we forget to tell them no ice in the beer. It is not in there for long!

On the way to the bat cave we see a dead snake in the road, our first wild snake. Only a smallish one, but it is dead, having been run over by a car in front of us. We back up to take a photo, much to the hilarity of the locals driving past us. We in turn laugh at them, they are on one of the scooters with a side car attached – side cars here look like crate attached, haha.

We have a quick look around the cave entrance that the bats will use at dusk, then head off to the resort to check in. We stayed at Phuman Camp Countryview & Resort, where they have an elevated viewing platform that is great for viewing the bats. Each couple pays 600 baht ($30) for a night in a rustic ramshackle cabin, that looks like they came straight out of the American backwoods, and it is one hell of an H&S risk just getting across the water to them! In ours the bloody mattress is rock hard again, and there is a massive stick hanging from the coat hooks. We wonder what that stick is to ward off! Turns out the window was hinged at the top, it was to hold the window open (phew). We have our own shower and toilet, very basic, but it does the job. Outside hundreds of brightly coloured dragon flies are dancing around the lotus filled ponds, and a few fish are swimming lazily around, we see the occasional frog too.

Near dusk we grab our beers and head up the equally rickety stairs to the viewing platform, hells bells OSH would have closed this down in a blink, well maybe after they recovered from having a pink fit! At dusk the bats start their amazing display, wow, blown away…

The Phu Pha Man cave (Klang Khao cave) is famous for its huge, make that massive, daily exodus of bats at dusk, making a formation kilometres long as they head to Laos to feed, returning in dribs and drabs before dawn. We are blown away by the sheer numbers, and how close some of them come to the platform we are viewing from. And the noise… wow. We are also surprised that we don’t get shat on while we are standing there gaping at this spectacle (keep ya mouth closed!!). There is an equally spectacular moon rise, as tonight it is near full, rounding off this spectacular event.

Tea tonight is at the resort, washed down with a few beers. Then we hit the sack, it has been a long, exciting day. Just wish those mattresses where a wee bit softer…

Sun 13th October

We (Tony and Cynthea) are not up early enough, so miss the dawn photos. We all have a “cooked” breakfast of pancakes with pork floss, eggs and caviar, or just eggs for the vegetarians. They are very sweet, something we will come to expect from Thai foods. Coffee, bananas and toast are also served up.

We leave the resort around 11am to head for a huge budda up in the hills. We take the back roads to the main road, the locals must be wondering if we are lost!

Three hours, and a couple hundred kilometres later, we stop at Moai for lunch, and take in some stunning views. The roads are busy, as is the restaurant.

Despite the warning signs on the road we have yet to see an elephant.

We carry on to the Budda and Wat, but at the turn off the traffic is backed up all the way down from the temple. Penny drops - it is Budda Day, and that is why it has been so busy! The owner of the resort did say something about being away for the day today, but no one clicked it was the big holiday. We look at staying near here the night, but the only accommodation left is expensive, and even then, there is bugger all to choose from.

So we decide we may as well head back to the bat cave. We are lucky enough to see a huge monitor lizard in the road, but as soon as we get out of the car to take a photo it disappears. Should have snapped a couple off through the car window.

At the resort the owner is still away, and it is a bit difficult to get the message through, but eventually we get sorted. Jeff and Karen have the same cabin as last night, we grab a newer style A-frame cabin, one with an inner sprung mattress. It is 900 baht ($46), quite a bit dearer than the cabin, but we need the comfort.

It is an even better bat show tonight, and a stunning full moon rise. There are a couple of families here for the sunset, and Tony gets a bit annoyed at the young kids throwing crackers when the bats come out. The bats do veer off when the bangs happen, but it doesn’t keep the rest of them away. They are even closer than last night, and a lot lower. You can feel some of the passes that they make.

No tea here tonight because there is no cook. We take off into the nearest village, Ban Non Khom, in the hope that someone is open. The place we had lunch at yesterday is closed, and we find another place that looks shut, but there are people about. Jeff goes in and finds the owners, who happily leave the party they are having (to celebrate Budda Day), and cook us a feed. It is Sunday, and we cannot buy beer, but one of the owners disappears and comes back with four bottles of Leo. We are placed at a table right off to one side, about half way down, so we cannot easily be seen from the outside. We are surprised that after all that they only charged us 400 baht, ($20), and they are overjoyed when Jeff gives them 500, and tells them to keep the change.

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