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Escaping Bangkok, we have been stunned by the beautiful scenery only a few hours out of the city. Our home for five nights (www.phachuanchom.com) sat at the foot of mountains, on the edge of Khao Yai National Park.

Established in 1962 as Thailand’s first national park, Khao Yai is the third largest national park in Thailand. It covers an area of 2,168 sq km, including rain/evergreen forests and grasslands.

With a local guide, we boarded an open-sided truck into the depths of the jungle!

Transported higher and higher, we felt on top of the world. From there, we spotted hornbills on treetops; the sheer size of the birds was obvious even from our far off vantage point.

Later on, the truck dropped us at the side of a road, and off we set on our intrepid adventure!

The sound of the jungle surrounded us: gibbons whooped to each other as they swung and swished through branches ahead of us, monkeys chattered at our feet, a chorus of bird songs filled our ears, the deafening sound of hornbills’ giant wings beat overhead, and a choir of insects sung in harmony. Signs of creatures we couldn’t hear were everywhere: elephant rubbings on towering trees, broken down paths, footprints and massive webs (with spiders the size of a hand).

Shaded by the canopy of the jungle, it was only when we reached a vast grassland area that we realised the heat. Thankfully, our guide took us to a secret waterfall where we swam. The beauty, crashing sounds and the power of the water took our breath away!

As night fell, we re-entered the Park. After an hour, we’d seen an iguana, barking deers, a venomous snake, wild bull, porcupines and finally…

Just WOW!!! We felt very lucky to see this magnificent mammal in its natural habitat, right in front of us!