Bangkok was big and beautiful, but we bid farewell and began making our way to Thailand's North. Along the way, we've stopped on several small(ish) cities and experienced some incredible history, culture, and extreme beauty. A few of the highlights:
Our first stop outside Bangkok was Khao Yai National Park (KYNP) Thailand's first national park, and third largest. To get here we took a minivan to Pak Chong, and then hopped into a songtow (open-air shared taxi). The park itself is rather isolated and accessing it requires patience, unless you drive a scooter, can shell out for a tour, or are willing to hitchhike. Yup, it turns out hitchhiking to and from KYNP is common, and we were very lucky to receive rides from five different, exceptionally kind drivers! (There is always risk in this, so trust your instincts.) We toured the small but informative museum and set out on a short hike. Getting to trails and other features within the park is difficult without a car/scooter/tour, and only two of the many trails are open to hikers sans guide. KYNP is mountainous, lush and filled with flowers, waterfalls and animals like elephants, birds, deer and cobras! Lodging and camping exist inside the park, and many guesthouses are available outside the park's North entrance. During our two day, two night journey, we stayed at the quaint and clean Baan Kin Lom Chom Daw guesthouse whose manager was above-and-beyond hospitable. We had a lovely time!