When a Thai person tells you that a 2-3 hr. hike is “easy, easy,” you should know that translates to being the very opposite.
Suratthani has its fair share of national parks, and Khlong Phanom is one of the less visited ones by tourists. I’m so glad I went, because the views were absolutely stunning.
About midway up the trail, I realized that I was walking in a pure jungle. There was no longer a clearcut path (nor signs) toward the viewpoint or the “big tree” the ranger told me about, and I started to panic a bit in my head.
That’s the thing about Thailand “hiking” – there’s no such thing as a marked, paved trail. It’s also a big reason why I could possibly die here before I venture to my next destination.
The trail was definitely not “easy, easy.” Despite being shaded from the sun and the weather being fairly temperate, the humidity still was getting to me. My face was sweating so much, beads of sweat were dripping off my face every few seconds – which has never happened to me before except here. It’s the most unpleasant feeling. I was walking extremely slow, carefully trying to place my footing in strategic spots in order to prevent myself from tumbling down the cliffs.
Just when I thought I had cleared the hardest parts of the trail, even steeper hills and huger rocks were around the corner. I almost gave up hope of even finding any damn viewpoint when I miraculously came across a sign pointing to the big tree – so I luckily was going the right way the whole time.
And the viewpoint surely didn’t disappoint. There were about three different viewpoints, all of which were equally beautiful.
And of course, in true Thai fashion, one required scaling a very unstable (and small) cliff. When I climbed up it, I just pictured my dad going barefoot, no fear, and my mom freaking out and opting to just watch. I’m pretty sure I get my fearless spirit from my dad – it’s amazing I haven’t injured myself yet.
My favorite was the last view on the way down – it offered a 360 view of the limestone cliffs, the sprawling green forests, and the Wellington-like rolling hills in the distance. I loved the view so much (especially being the only one in the entire national park), that I stayed up there for a good half hour just to soak in its beauty.
The hike back down was a lot easier, complete with a rusty ladder with clusters of fire ants crawling everywhere. My gosh, Thailand has about 50 death traps in every hiking trail, I swear. I always feel like I’m on The Amazing Race when I’m hiking – or doing anything, really – here.