Bat caves and Harry Potter bugs

We were excited about the half day tour of the Khao Yai National Park as our guide picked us up at our hotel. Our tour group consisted of a young couple from France (like most French they did not speak very good english), an American couple, a couple from Spain and Venezuela (at least we think they were a couple) and finally a French girl (much better at English but on the other hand she is backpacking her way through south east Asia and she was bound to pick up a few words 😉 ).

Our first stop was a refreshing natural spring and a little tour of the surrounding garden and wildlife. At one time our guide told us to stand on a low wall and then told us to look behind us… …more than a few of us stood aghast as we saw the 10cm big spider in its web right behind us!
While Fredde tried to get a good (and scary) spider capture with his camera Margreet took a nice dip in the water.
 Our guide also asked us to “find the animal” on a plant. After a few hints and a little time we saw the walking stick.
At the next stop it was time to bring out the flash lights as we were heading down to the bat caves. Ohhh scary!
 Well, if you don’t think it sounds scary I think the next picture will make it crawl under your skin…
 Yes, the first thing our guide showed us in the cave was a tarantula living inside the handrail of the stairs. “Unfortunately” we scared her off and she quickly crawled back inside the tube. Besides harvesting guano (bat poo) the caves were used by local priests to mediate.
Soon we reached the inner caves and there were a lot of bats both hanging from the ceiling and flying around us!
 Here’s a treat for all you Harry Potter fans out there: we saw and held (well, Fredde did) the actual “monster” used in “Defense of the dark arts” class. Our guide was very good and showed us a lot of different animals and insects and he had a knack of getting people to hold the scary little buggers (well we wouldn’t call them little…)
We soon headed up again to above ground and were welcomed by the heat (we had gotten used to the cooler air in the caves. Once we reached our transport we were greeted by a couple of adorable puppies which was a nice change of scenery! Our guide also showed a stinkbug.
 Last but not least we were going to see “some” bats flying out of their caves at night, only a couple of millions or so… The last piece of the way was unfortunately on a red dusty gravel road. Needless to say that everything on the back of the songthaew (a pickup truck with sit places in the back) including us, was covered in a fine layer of red dust :-(. We walked a kilometer or so around a small mountain to get a good view of the show. As soon as the sun had settled the show started. In big snakelike formations over the darkening sky the bats flew over us and around the mountain accompanied by a massive “swooshing sound”. It was an amazing sight which both grew in intensity and size until it just suddenly stopped.
We must once again give our compliments to the guide as he really went out of his way to show us the wildlife and its hidden mysteries. On our way back to our hotel we stopped one last time. This time the guide showed us a huge centipede and can you guess who got to hold it? Now brace yourself… …it was Margreet!!! Fredde (and we believe everyone else) was immensely proud of her!
Back at the hotel it became an early night for us as we are heading for the full day tour of the park at 8 in the morning the next day.