09 Sep Sleeping in a floating camp- Elephant Hills Part II
As soon as I laid eyes on Rainforest Camp I knew one night wouldn’t be enough. Since our time in Thailand is coming to an end, I have no trouble saying that it was the most special place we stayed at on our entire Thailand trip.
But let me rewind a bit. If you read this post you know that we booked the Jungle Lake Safari tour with Elephant Hills and that after canoening down the Sok River and having a unique elephant encounter, we stayed one night at their tented camp in Elephant Hills
The next morning after breakfast, it was time to leave Elephant Hills and head to their sister floating Rainforest Camp. After stopping at a local market where we ate lots and lots of Rambuttan, we pushed on and continued our journey to the camp.
A longtail boat took us to the heart of Cheow Larn Lake. The fresh water screamed “blue” even more so than many of the beaches we’d been to. I was a little worried that the ride would be too long, but with such scenery it was even a little short. After almost two hours, the camp came into view: a perfect tented oasis floating blissfully by itself in the reflecting lake. I’d never seen a place like it. It seemed relaxing, quiet, and remote, but also fun and adventurous.
We were welcomed at the dining room with a drink, and before giving us our tent keys we had lunch. It was more of the same than in Elephant Hills, but I was too busy admiring the beauty of the surrounding rainforest to care.
The tent was out of this world. Not only did it have the same amenities and cozy decor as the tents in Elephant Hills but right outside, there was a deck from where you could jump into the lake, and our own kayak for exploring the lake whenever we felt like it. Not to mention the unparalleled views of the lake from the bed. ….
A guided hike to a cave through the jungle was shceduled first so we had to wait to jump into the water. Delayed gratification they call it, right?
After a short boat ride, we picked up a park ranger from the station and then we were off to explore the jungle on foot. It shocked me to see that only six of us chose to go on that hike. I mean, I get that the room is floating on a lake, but how often do you get to explore caves inside the Thai rainforest? There was no way we were passing up this opportunity.
The ranger, even though he didn’t speak English, pointed to animals whenever we saw them, cut a bit of sandalwood from the tree so we could smell it (let me tell you it smells way better than what Bath and Bodyworks wants you to believe is Sandalwood), and he laughed at us when we didn’t want to get any closer to unidentified insects.
The cave at the end of the trail was dark. I-can’t-see-my-fingers dark. We crept through the massive entrance but once inside it turned eerie and mysterious. A sense of danger filled the space. We each had a flashlight but they provided little help against the blackness. The sounds of the bats were deafening and it was a little disconcerting not being able to actually see them.
What we did see, though, just as we were entering the cave was a snake eating a bat. I repeat: a snake eating a bat. Believe me, I almost turned back. But held on to Sara, an Italian girl who we’d met on camp and together we carried on, spooked out of our minds. We saw spiders. Too many of them for it to be fun. Ron Weasley’s (and Sara’s) worst nightmare.
They were everywhere. On the floor, the walls, the cracks on the rocks…
It was definitely a unique experience but there were too many creepy crawlies for us to relax. And, yeah, we had a face to face with another snake on our way to the exit.
Back on camp it was finally time for that swim we’d been anticipating all day. We jumped right from our deck and it was just as we imagined. Actually, it was better. After a relaxing time splashing around we took out our kayak to explore the lake. We didn’t go far. We just marveled, incredulous, at where we were and had one of those “life is amazing” moments.
After everyone went to sleep after dinner, we stayed in the dining area with three other couples (one from Italy, one from Australia, and one from Switzerland) talking about food from our countries, misconceptions people have about where we each lived and we had a good laugh.
When we all said goodnight and went back to our tents, Isaac and I, restless, sat on the chairs on our deck to watch the stars. Being so far away from “civilizaition” in the middle of nowhere in Cheow Larn Lake, they were clear and sparkly.
A perfect way to end the night
The next morning we went on a guided kayak tour of the lake. We saw some monkeys and a big lizard (which Isaac, up till this day, still claims was an alligator). As we paddled back I started feeling the regret of knowing that our time in such a beautiful place was coming to an end.
Our friends were probably feeling the same way because we all jumped into the water and created our own “floating bar”. We sat on our lifejackets and used a couple of them for holding the beers, and we let the current slowly drag us to from one of the tents all the way to the dining area. The only thing that party was missing was some music.
All too soon, one of the staff came to tell us it was time to check out.
After lunch we got on the longtail boat and we sped away from one of the most incredible places we’ve stayed in. Good thing was, we still had the ride back to mainland to admire the lake and its beauty. Boy, what a place.