Our first destination in Thailand was Khao Sok National Park. We had spent a week on a beach in Malaysia, and we had two weeks planned with my parents on Koh Chang. Visiting a jungle in between beach vacations sounded like a fun change, and much more importantly, it looked like we could get some riding in the mountains done. Even though on this segment of our trip the bikes are much smaller and the weather about 15 degrees hotter, we still wear full protective motorcycle gear. If you come off the bike you come off the bike, and at 80 kms/h or 120 kms/h, you will lose skin, bone and other bits of body parts that you normally wish to keep. I am no stranger to crashing a motorcycle (see my previous article on close encounters of the gravel or dirt kind). I want protection. That also means that if given the chance to ride at higher altitudes, I am even more likely to jump at the opportunity than normal. Mountains followed by jungle spell bliss.
We spent the day riding along amazing twisty roads, and arrived early evening at our slice of jungle paradise: a hut just outside of the national park boundaries. We did not have wifi, but we did have our own bathroom and shower. For the price we paid we were overjoyed. Even given the fact that money goes further in Thailand, this place was fantastic value for the money. It seemed like there should be a catch, yet there was nothing that we could notice.
…I was about to discover why our hut was such a bargain.
And when a gang of uber cute gibbons ran out of the jungle the only thing I could think of was “how cute!!!!” I thought I knew monkeys. I had lived in Japan, and I had visited monkey mountain in Beppu. It was one of my favorite places to take visitors. I had no desire to touch a monkey, but I was under the impression we could act as polite, if curious, neighbors. Little did I know that I was about to discover why our hut was such a bargain.
Planet of the apes
Turns out, monkeys are in fact savage bastards.
I had laid my bag of brightly colored junk food next to the steps, and Sneaky Monkey #1 made a dive for it. When I squealed and went to take my rightful possessions back, he turned and, with a hateful hiss, bared his six inch fangs at me.
Gone was the cute cuddly creature that had seemed so innocent. In its place was a chip-stealing banshee.
The German would have none of it however. Grabbing a large stick, he chased the monkey and snatched – with the afore-mentioned stick – the bag out of the monkey’s hands.
This resulted in one extremely pissed off primate.
Luckily for us, he had a very real fear of the stick, or else we would have been off for rabies shots. Instead he ran up the tree and attempted to urinate on us.
When I squealed and went to take my rightful possessions back, he turned and, with a hateful hiss, bared his six inch fangs at me.
While this was happening, his partner in crime screeched his rage at us and ran up and through the open door into our room. The German once again ran after him with a stick, and fortunately the monkey left after managing to grab only the top of a bottle of water. This was of no value to the monkey, but as he and his demon gang ran away, you could tell it was with the hope that they had seized something we valued and would miss.
What we did learn was to shut the door, and I had nightmares that night about baby monkeys stealing my underwear. One of those awful ones where you wake up thinking the nightmare is over, only to look over and see a furry beast starring at you with baleful eyes. Then you need to wake up for real even more terrified than before.
The next day
The next morning we saw the gang hanging out around the hut next to us, while screams of terror came from the occupants within. Some more stick brandishing occurred and the monkeys ran off. But now instead of thinking “how adorable” when I see monkeys, I feel the need to wear motorcycle gear to protect myself from them. The joy of seeing monkeys in the wild has been replaced with the sad, sober knowledge that they are evil.
Mind you, I still managed to find some occasional joy in them: I rather enjoyed them when we were swimming in the river, and we were on one side and they played (while steadfastly ignoring us) on the other side.
But even with the heat and wildlife, the riding in South East Asia has been fantastic. Except for intense feelings of guilt every time I encounter a kamikaze butterfly on my Wave, motorcycling in Thailand has been a dream.
Even if, at times, it’s of the furry underwear-thieving kind.