By Theresa Yiju Lin
Visiting the rainforests is like crossing the national borders to anther country. What makes the rainforests so interesting is because of its four layers: emergent layer, canopy layer, understory layer and forest floor.
Most of the trees are broad-leaved, hardwood evergreens in the emergent layer. The animals inhabit here are monkeys, bats, eagles and butterflies. It is as high as 200 feet above the ground, and you might need a telescope to see the details. The canopy layer towers the understory layer and forest floor, and it is the primary layer of the forest. The trees leaves are mostly oval-shaped. The animals in the layer are toucans, tree frogs and snakes. Understory layer is dark because most sunshine is blocked by the leaves at the two top layers. The plants are usually short and with bigger leaves in order to capture enough sunlight to survive. In the area, there are many insects, red-eyed tree frogs and endanger animals such as jaguars and leopards. There are giant anteaters living in the forest floor. The forest floor is so dark that almost no plants can grow, and leaves that drop to the forest floor usually decompose in about six weeks.
Rainforests are biological treasures of the earth. Each year there is a great number of people who strive for saving the rainforests worldwide. The rainforests are the top oxygen producers; they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Therefore, imagine what you get from stepping into the rainforests: fresh oxygen to revitalize your body. With as many as 50,000 plant, animal and insect species are disappearing each year means the vanishing of the cure of some life-threatening diseases. In Thailand, there are some internationally renowned forests. They attract many tourists and scholars every year.
Khao Sok National Park
The Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani is the largest forest in the south. People who have been here said it is “the king of the jungle.” There are about 48 species of mammals including the striped phantom, the world’s largest cat in the park, but many of the inhabitants in the forest are hard to see in the day. Currently there are 200 bird species including the colorful paradise birds, called the prehistoric tropical hornbill officially, that can be identified in the park.
When visiting Khao Sok National Park, I recommend planning at least a two-day trip so you can embrace the most of the park. Elephant ride is one option if you prefer not to walk the whole time. Schedule a couple hikes in the afternoon and drench yourself in the lush, observe the limestone rocks in the area and enjoy the mist at the beautiful waterfalls. If you wish, you can also canoeing down the Sok River. One thing to be aware of is that you might find Rafflesia in the park. The flower only blossoms once a year, the size is about 30 inches in diameter and the smell is unpleasant.
Accommodation is provided at the Khao Sok National Park. Visitors can spend overnight at the Sabai Sabai Bungalows next to the Sok River. The restaurant also serves great Thai food. More information about Khao Sok National Park and the trip ideas can be found here: www.khaosok.com/.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is located in the north-east of Thailand. It is in Nakhonnayok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi and Prachinburi Provinces. It is only 200 kilometers (about two to three hours by car) away from Bangkok. There are buses available from Bangkok to get to the park. In addition, it is such a popular resort so that there are many travel agencies provide that private tours. If you choose to find a tour guide or park ranger, the tourist information center and the front desks of the hotels will have information about it. Searching the Web is a good idea too!
Khao Yai is also a popular attraction on the weekends for its convenient location. In the park, there are more than 12 trails in different lengths. The shortest one is only two kilometers, which takes about a couple of hours to hike. If you wish to stay longer in the park, permission is required to spend nights. Many people come to Khao Yai National Park attracted by the wildlife. At least 25 large mammals and 300 bird species can be found in the park. Some of the trails are formed by wild animals, and most of them now have colorful marks on the trees made by the park rangers to help visitors to find their ways. From July to October, rafting at the Sai Yai River is a common sport. The waterfalls and caves in the park are also well-known places for relaxation.
Accommodation in the Khao Yai National Park is available with three different options. You can choose to stay at the lodging houses, tourist houses or tents. Check with the tourist center and make reservations to guarantee the space.
Neil Challis and Peter Cutter offer the rainforest tour in Thailand. Their educational backgrounds and touring experience will lead the tourists to see the rainforests from a new perspective and emphasize the importance of preserving the land. You can reach them at the www.wildwatchthailand.com.
When planning a trip to explore the rainforests and wildlife in Thailand, expect yourself to spend much time in the Bangkok surrounding area and the south. The exploration will be a memory of lifetime!
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