Monday, December 29, 2008

An Often Overlooked City

Lonely Planet called the city of Phetchaburi, "An often overlooked city." Hannah and I didn't want to overlook it so we had the bus to Bangkok drop us off.

Hannah and I were the only people to get off the bus which meant around 50+ people were indeed overlooking the city. I have to admit, it's kind of an easy city to miss if you're not looking for it. When the bus door opened up and Hannah and I jumped off, we quickly realized we had no idea where we were. Hannah, who I have appointed in charge of the guide book, quickly got her bearings and pointed us in the direction to the one guest house mentioned in the book.

After walking through the city for about thirty minutes -- and turning down various taxi drivers -- we arrived at the riverside guest house. Immediately we were greeted by a man with a scar across his face who spoke about ten words of English. Eight of the words he spoke though were, "You go trekking in jungle with me tomorrow?" There are only two things that could make a man with a scar across his face scarier: 1) If he carried around a big machete. 2) If his English translator's name was CHOKE. Hey, Mom and Dad, I'd like to introduce you to our new friend Tom:

(PICTURE: Once again, a smile can be disarming.)

The reason that Phetchaburi attracted Hannah and I is that it is located near Kaeng Krachan, the largest national park in Thailand. Hannah and I really wanted to go for a jungle trek but the prices in the book were a little above our budget. Luckily, Tom had already signed up two Germans for the trek which meant the total cost was cut in half.

The next morning we all piled into the back of a pick-up truck and headed to the park to look for wild elephants, monkeys, leopards and other animals, insects and birds.

(PICTURE: The Germans and Choke, our translator.)

(PICTURE: Hannah and I in the back of the pick-up truck.)

Immediately upon entering the park we saw a crab-eating mongoose run across the road. This is ironic because when we were children I used to call Hannah, "Silly Mongoose." Why? I don't know. Another thing I didn't know -- what a mongoose looked like.

A few minutes later while driving we all spotted a giant pile of dung on the side of the road. Tom immediately stopped the truck and jumped out. His excitement for big piles of shit couldn't be contained. I guess that comes with the territory of being a tracker. The poo belonged to a herd of elephants...and we were going to find them.

(PICTURE: Hannah was pumped to see elephant doody.)