A Brit in The Orient.

Reply Sun 25 May, 2008 11:23 am
I'll put a few more photographs on of Angkor Wat and next week will move along to Tonle Sap Lake.

What a marvellous piece of the planet this place is.

The architecture is so beautiful.


I really hope the photographs and writings are OK for one and all, not had many comments at all of late. However, I suppose the viewing figures speak for themselves.

Thank you very much.


Considering the age of the work especially, I think it is spectacular.


It was great taking a wander outside every now and then too. We enjoyed the time spent there. It felt very beneficial to us both.


Little shops with all sorts of goodies on offer.


Then mind blowing architecture from all those years ago, that you can see and appreciate.


Magical, in a manner of speaking.
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Reply Sun 25 May, 2008 11:35 am
In discussion with a couple of 'scholarly type ' regarding Angkor Wat, they were quite amazed that the buildings had withstood the test of the weight of the enormous trees which had been growing and resting on so many points for hundreds of years.


Obviously when trees and vines grow in their early stages, they are somewhat comparable to worm like creatures or leeches. You may well be aware that leeches can get through the finest cracks on clothing for instance and once they start sucking on the fine claret we have running through our veins, they end up like big fat ugly slugs, well satisfied.

Similar with the trees and vines, they push their way through the smallest cracks in the brickwork as and where they can, then they grow, forcing the brickwork apart and establishing themselves as part of the fixtures and fittings.


Some of these sections which have been stripped of the trees, vines and foliage, obviously show signs of damage, whilst others are reasonably alright. There has been so much damage done by man over the years, especially the Khmer Rouge that the rectification work although proving difficult, will not be an impossibility.


I think this particular tree has been shown on most documentaries and films regarding or using Angkor Wat as background (Tomb Raider for example) since they commenced studying the same.


This one simply dwarves Flobo.


There are many areas similar to this particular section, with so many pieces about, it's going to be like repairing a jig-saw in a lot of instances, which from what can be seen of the remedial work being undertaken at present is certainly being managed in a very professional manner, so far as I could make out.


Looks a bit like Samson might have paid this place a visit in the past too, doesn't it.


The tree below which is only a few years old and gives a little shelter to the rider and horse, is not the type to be spreading total cover or wreaking havoc with the building in the future, short and contained roots on that little beauty.


Certain trees in the UK years ago, The Poplar being one good example to take, played havoc with drains and sewers especially. Foundations on buildings also.

The little baby roots would find access into the drains and sewers, then just within a couple or three years, they would block a four or six inch drain with no messing about.

Well. I'll leave Angkor Wat now and make a start on Tonle Sap Lake next week or so. Just leave you one of the kids from near the Wat, they ended up playing drums on the table top, it was good to see them laughing and enjoying themselves too.

"Umpa, Umpa, stick it up your jumper!"


What a wonderful world.

Had a couple of my grandsons staying over last-night, they came to watch the Ricky Hatton v Juan Lazcano fight.

Granny asked them if they wanted a sirloin steak like Granddad.

"No" they said, "Can we send out for a Pizza?"

The mind boggles.
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:18 pm
I have been in e-mail and telephone conversation of late with a younger couple we met in Mae Sot earlier on this year.

We met in the Centara Central Hillside Resort, they were very interested in a jaunt Flobo and I had made to Umphang. Since our return we have sent them some photographs of the area and our observations.

It was a hell of a trip and before I move onto Tonle Sap Lake Cambodia, seeing as I have some information handy on Umphang, I thought I would lighten up the thread somewhat with information from the trip we made and some of the northern delights of Thailand in general for a change.

The people I am referring to want both of us to join them on a trek into the depths of Umphang and do a recorded trip with a view of the same being used as a television presentation.

It sounds good on the face value of their presentation, and we feel content with the credentials they have supplied us. It's basically now a question of our general fitness as the trail they wish to take will be very demanding indeed. We are obviously very interested, and we do intend giving the same some extremely careful considerations.

If we feel we can improve our fitness levels to the requirements we will need to in view of the demands such a trip will make on us, then yes, we will go for it.

We really hope we will be up for it too.

This was a hell of a drive earlier on this year. The road from Mae Sot to Umphang is known as 'Death Highway' it is notorious for terrible accidents.

The route takes you right across the mountain ridge and it's the only way back out of there.

On our return from Umphang, we were delayed and were forced to drive back to Mae Sot in darkness, it was a hell of an undertaking.


As you can see from the photograph the road passes through some extremely remote territory.

You can see the same snaking along the ridge on the photograph and if you look carefully at the front of the photograph you can see the same in the immediate foreground.

Some of the scenery you come across in Thailand is spectacular.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:31 pm
It's quite a road the 1090, it is the only road to Umphang and it comes to a full stop once it gets there.

Its some seventy miles long {approx 170 km} but feels more like 700 (I exaggerate not) it twists and turns like a gigantic Burmese Python, it rises at ridiculous points and spins around the ridges, there are few safety barriers at all. The journey takes between four and five hours in daylight, allowing for good weather conditions.

In the past, travelling between Mae Sot and Umphang along old trails and dirt roads passed places inside Burma. Local people lived both sides of the so-called border line. Country borders are hardly known let alone recognised or abided by out here.

The Rom Glao area along the Highway and the main true reason for the naming of the road as DEATH HIGHWAY was the site of the two massacres that had taken place during the long construction of the H1090. Thirty workers being attacked and killed at km-marker 43, by Thai, Hmong and Karen CPT insurgents.

Apparently they did not wish to have this road penetrating Umphang (one of the main communist strongholds in Thailand in the 1960s and 70s). The attacks were one of the factors which had delayed completion of the road for so long.

As a result of the attacks Thai authorities deployed anti-communist KMT forces from places like Kae Noi to guard the project and its construction workers. The security situation was alleviated in 1982-83 with the mass surrenders in Tak province of hundreds of heavily-armed communist rebels and thousands of sympathisers.

However it was not until the very late 1980s, when 'Death Highway' was finally finished, there are still claims of bandits and Communist forces being covertly active in these regions

Nakhon Nowhere?

The Back of Beyond?

The village itself was very pleasant, clean and extremely well laid out. Initially we stopped at a clean but basic cafe, they could barely understand our needs for a coffee, but had some in a Nescafe Jar alongside an unopened jar of powdered milk, but we also noticed several tins of condensed milk.

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

We pointed to the tins and jar of Nescafe, they pointed back to us and pointed at the kettle.

We brewed our own and they watched diligently.

The end result was superb, we made ourselves two more large ones and they gave us a bill for 50 Baht.

Umphang is accessible only by road from Mae Sot. The town sits happily in a valley between two mountain ranges.

One range separates Thailand from Burma; the other separates Umphang from the rest of Thailand and the world.

It is indeed a very isolated community, is visited only by fools like me dragging my wife along as Flobo coolly put it when we finally arrived there.

A new highway is presently being built, it is no where near the destination point as yet but if and when completed it will provide a safer route between Thailand's Central Plains and Burma.

The road to Umphang is along and very dangerous trip, the scenery however is spectacular. The road tends run round the top of the mountains rather than along the valley floor. There are some amazing view points and various hillside villages plus a massive refugee camp situated along the mountain pass.

Umphang itself is now a slowly developing tourist town which caters mainly to interested Thais.

Not very long ago (15 years or so) it was a centre of Communist insurgency. Communist guerrillas hid from Government troops in caves such as the Tat Kah Be cave. This cave has apparently never been fully explored. It is close to Umphang, and easily accessible.

I can assure you I didn't take the satellite photograph as shown below, I nicked it off the INTERNET.


There are times in life when you go round a corner, be it in the pedestrian world, car, motorcycle, train, boat or plane and you just know you probably shouldn't be there.


If it drives, they will use it, no matter what, how or where.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:43 pm
I have taken the information below from The Internet, it may be beneficial to any interested people or person wishing to explore the area themselves. I can recommend the same.

Flobo and I made good use of the same.

But be careful

Umphang Forest (Tak province) map and information (May 2003)

Umphang district is located in the southern tip of Tak province. The place is mostly hills, forests, river streams, caves and waterfalls. Majority of population living there are Karen (Kayin), Thai, Shan and other minority ethnic tribes.

____ Paved road

--- Unpaved road
........... Trail


1 = Moei (Thaung Yin) river, flows into Salawen (Thanlwin) river in Mae Hong Son province. It serves as Thai-Myanmar border line. Mae Sot and Myawaddy are connected by a bridge.

2 = Mae Klong Mai village

3 = Mae Klong river stream. This river and Kha Khaeng river in Uthai Thani province flow into Si Nakharin dam lake in Kanchanaburi province. After the dam lake the river is called Kwae Yai river.

4 = Umphang river stream (flows into Mae Klong river)

5 = Umphang Ke village. Rafting trip can start in this place along Umphang river.

6 = Ti Lo Jor waterfall

7 = Hot spring (natural hot water pool)

8 = Pha Laud station (office, map, rest room)

9 = Tha Sai camp. Rafting trip to Ti Lo Su (possible whole year) usually ends here. Umphang to Tha sai on Mae Klong river is about 25 km (rafting 3 hours). From this camp to Ban Palatha by river is 15 km or 2 hours.

10 = Ti Lo Su waterfall (1.5 km from camp)

11 = Ti Lo Su waterfall camp (office, camp ground, tents for rent, rest rooms). From Umphang it is 47 km by road; the first 25 km is paved (early 2003).

12 = Ban Ko Tha (Karen village, home stay possible, small primary school). From Ti Lo Su camp it is 7 km (easy to moderate) hiking which takes 2 to 3 hours. Few houses have elephants. Vegetable growing, hand weaving. Ban Ko Tha to Ban Palatha trail is moderate level, and is about 6.5 km or 3 hours hike.

Primary school in Ban Ko Tha

13 = Lar Ee Or twin swamp (lakes in the lush forest - birds and plants). It can be reached on foot from Ti Pho Ji village.

14 = Kloh Tho river stream (which creates Ti Lo Su waterfall). The camp is on the bank of the stream. It flows into Mae Klong river.

15 = Ti Pho Ji Karen village close to the twin swamp. From Ban Ko Tha it takes 4 to 5 hours trek through forests of bamboo, hardwood and orchids. During dry season 4wd trucks can reach there from highway 1288.

16 = Ban Nu Pho Karen village can be reached by highway no. 1288 from Umphang.

17 = Pueng Klueng village (Myanmar, Shan and Thai) close to border. Myanmar name is "Pan Khan". It can be reached by car via road no. 1288.

18 = Lay Tong Ku village on the border. About 100 km from Umphang. People travel there from Pueng Klueng or Mong Kua on foot (5 to 6 hours walk - moderate to hard). Four wheels drive truck can get there in dry season. People there do not raise pigs, ducks and chickens. However they can keep elephants, cows and buffalos. Foods include rice, fish and wild animals. They worship a pair of elephant tusks (ivory) with Buddha images curved on them.

19 = Ban Mong Kua. It is roughly 70+ km from Umphang. Four wheels drive trucks can get there in dry season. From here one can trek (passing over Khao Mong Kua mountain) 6 hours to Lay Tong Ku village.

20 = Mae Chan river stream (which later flows into Mae Klong river)

21 = Mae La Moong village

22 = Mae La Moong river stream (flows into Mae Klong river). From the two rivers meeting point ones can trek to Ban Palatha, Ban Ko Tha and Ban Ti Pho Ji.

23 = Ban Palatha village. About 27 km from Umphang. Bigger Karen village. Home stay is possible. They have bamboo houses with beddings and mosquito nets for tourists. White water rafting to Ti Lo Lay waterfall usually starts here. Elephant ride and trekking trips can be arranged.

24 = Ban Zepala village. Only 3 km from Ban Palatha. Farming rice and vegetables. The villagers also keep elephants. Women do hand weaving of cloths, clothes, bags, etc. Zepala waterfall at the end of the village.

25 = Kangae Di village. Highway no. 1090 ends here. Ban Zepala to Kaegae Di section is rough road (late 2002).

26 = Ti Lo Lay waterfall (a river stream drops into Mae Klong river from the western side). Ban Palatha to Ti Lo Lay rafting takes about 5 to 6 hours (about 40+ km). June to October (rainy season) is flooded and dangerous. November to December is the best time for most people. January to May is low water. Camp site is located 500 meters upstream. Return journey is by elephant or walking to Ban Palatha (35 km).

27 = La Ka Toe lake. A place of deep jungles and wild animals.

28 = Nam Mood cave. Mae Klong river flows through the cave.

29 = Ban Mae Jan Tha village is located close to the meeting point of Mae Jan and Mae Klong rivers.

30 = Three pagoda border pass to Sanklaburi, Thong Pha Phum and Kanchanaburi on highway no. 323 (Kanchanaburi province).

Travel permits
The northern part of Umphang district is inside Umphang wildlife sanctuary. The lower parts are in Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary, and a small portion bordering Uthai Thani province is in Huay Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary. Travel permits are necessary to enter these places. The local tour operators in Umphang would do the paper works for tourists.

Weather and roads conditions
Rainy season starts in May and ends in November, with heavy rains during July to October. From June to October the un-paved roads will be very difficult or not possible to drive. Many parts of these jungle roads would be flooded. Best months to travel are November till February, and thus places are crowded. February to May is dry season and is good for trekking. Rafting is still possible along Mae Klong river from Umphang Ke to Tha Sai camp. The water is however low.

Drinking water and medicines
If you are hiking to far away places without car road access, carrying drinking water will be a problem. Drink only boiled water, or use good quality filter to cleanse the river water. Bring personal medicines and first aid kit. Umphang town has district level hospital. In large villages there are nurses. Wildlife sanctuary offices have trained personnel. Be sure that you are very fit before you go adventure into the forest. Always go with a able local guide.

So I'll stop meandering again and take you down this road leading to the spectacular waterfall known as Tee-Lor-Su. Apparently this is the sixth largest waterfall in the world.

Obviously the biggest and most spectacular in Thailand. Probably the whole of Asia.

But hell it takes some getting there.

No wonder nobody go's there

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:55 pm
The views from the Death Highway were spectacular though.


The scenery is magnificent.

There's nothing there but it's absolutely beautiful. There are Tigers and all rare forms of wildlife including the brown bear in the area we were told.

We saw numerous snakes, large silver/black ones in the main, about six of them in less than two hours on one stretch of dirt road and three or four which i am sure were Cobra.

We didn't actually see any Tiger or Bear.



Is anybody going to San Antoine, or Phoenix Arizona?


It's like a place on earth that everybody forgot about.


We liked it immensely

These photographs really are worth saving to your photograph manager and viewing full screen size, they are quite spectacular.


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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:02 pm
When we checked out The airport at Umphang, Flobo whispered, I'm so glad we didn't fly down!

The Runway!


The Chief of Police was apparently in total charge of the airport.


And you weren't allowed to drive your car or motorcycle up and down the same.

Amazing isn't it.

I reflected on what might or might not be going on in that particular stretch of the planet, the border crossing point was unreal, the airport, the police., everything, I bet those trees could tell a tale or two.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:13 pm

There, I remember what I was doing here now.

Many a time we can be trekking in the jungle or high in the mountains strolling merrily along, talking about this, that or the other, and I'll wonder what we are doing there, I get so carried away with my train of thought being diverted, I drift along like a leaf on the wind.

It's a good job Flobo coms with me actually.


OK we're back on track for Tee-Lor-Su Waterfall:-

Once you get as far as is possible by car down a twenty to thirty km long dirt road which is more like a Big Dipper than a road in any event, you then have a thirty to forty five minute long walk to the actual start of the falls.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:27 pm
The initial impression might be something like, surely this can't be it.


Swallow falls are better than that.


You cannot help but think, it has to be better than this, surely we haven't come all this way for this?

Of course you can hear a sound of really heavy water falling by now.

Maybe we should take a bit of a swim here, and get changed, clean ourselves up a bit, we are really sweating. So we have a skinny dip, freshen up, change into clean clothes, dine on water and some biscuits
and carry on walking.
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:38 pm
Then it's wow!


Look at that.


It gave me the impression of one of those 'old movies' were you expect a dinosaur to peer out of the undergrowth or one of those flying Pterosaur, to zoom over your head. Didn't they have a really big one named therizinosaurus?


It's absolutely beautiful.
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:45 pm
It really stuns you, the beauty is amazing.

There's more to show too.

We were glad we had taken the trouble to get there I can tell you.


One thing for sure, We know we will take the trouble to visit again in the Wet season, it must be something to see in full flood. So that has to be a positive apart from how the deal works out with the young couple who wish to have our company on a trek out there.

Although talking to a couple of people since, I understand it is so dangerous, that you cannot always gain entrance to the actual area of waterfall as the photographs we have taken show.

Not to worry, I am confident we will find a way round it in due course.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:51 pm
I was really made up at reaching the falls and felt a great deal of personal satisfaction at having done the trip.


Flobo was chuffed too.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 04:03 pm
Whilst we were taking the last few photographs as shown above, we were totally engulfed by large hornets, amazingly neither of us were stung, but it was quite a shock for a good few minutes, we did a fast exit and they were crawling all over us, the further away we walked the quicker they left us. As mentioned, neither of us received a single sting, we were very lucky.

So we waved good bye


I really like that particular photograph above.

The next one is nice too.

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 04:08 pm
Wow! Yes, beautiful...hey Mathos - if you and Flobo are leading trips - maybe I can go with you guys sometime- not for the whole three or four months that you guys do but maybe for a couple of weeks.

You've really sparked my interest with your photos.

Why don't you ever play acronyms anymore?
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Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 03:27 am
Sorry Aidan, we are certainly not leading trips.

We are discussing and planning a very difficult trek, which we will have to be super fit to even consider setting out on. The trek will last for several weeks in extremely inhospitable mountain and jungle terrain.

The couple joining us are familiar with treks of this nature.

It isn't a stroll in the park.

When and if we consider we are physically capable of such an undertaking, there will be the greatly anticipated difficulty in obtaining departmental approval for our quest.

Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

This sanctuary includes a massive area of pristine forest along the hills dividing Thailand and Myanmar. The habitat varies between tropical rain forest, dry evergreen, hill evergreen, and mixed deciduous, creating the right conditions for a wide variety of different animal species including elephants, tigers, leopards and panthers. Current records count 95 species of mammals, 386 birds, 84 reptiles, 34 amphibians, and 77 freshwater fish. Two rare animals facing extinction which are found in this sanctuary are wild water buffaloes and Thai peacocks.

Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary

This sanctuary occupies a huge tract of forest in Umphang district of Tak. It forms part of the western forests which is one of the largest zones of unspoilt forest in Southeast Asia. Flora include tropical fig trees and wild strawberries, while fauna include moorhens, rails and lesser whistling ducks. The highlight of the park is the stunning Thi Loh Su waterfall, the tallest and possibly the most picturesque in the kingdom.

Information Provided by the Thai Embassy


Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
Protected Areas and World Heritage
COUNTRY Thailand

NAME Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary


IV (Habitat/Species Management Area)

Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria ii, iii, iv

BIOGEOGRAPHICAL PROVINCE 4.05.01 (Indochinese Rainforest)

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION The sanctuary lies mainly in Uthai Thani Province, but extends into Tak Province. It is located at the southern end of the Dawna Range, about 300km north-west of Bangkok. 15°00'-15°50'N, 99°00'-99°28'E

DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT 26 August 1972. Inscribed with Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary on the World Heritage List in 1991.

AREA The present area is 257,464ha following an extension to the south and east in 1986. It is contiguous with Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary (320,000ha) to the west. Although the two sanctuaries are administered separately, they are essentially a single conservation area representing the largest legislated protected area in mainland South-east Asia. The sanctuaries constitute a major component of the protected areas cluster in western Thailand, comprising Sri Nakarin National Park (153,200ha), Chaloem Rattankosin National Park (5,900ha), Erawan National Park (55,000ha), Sai Yok National Park (50,000ha) and Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary (85,855ha). They both adjoin Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary (251,600ha) to the north, which has been demarcated but not yet gazetted. In total, there are 1,208,300ha of protected areas in the complex (ONEB, 1990). It has been proposed to add a further 17,500ha to the north-east of Huai Kha Khaeng in order to correct the management insecurity of a deeply indented boundary near the headquarters, to make the sanctuary more contiguous with the Mae Wong National Park and to incorporate the watershed slopes of the Huai Thap Salao and Huai Mae Dee Noi, the last remaining pockets of forest to the east of the sanctuary (ONEB, 1990).

LAND TENURE Government

ALTITUDE Ranges from riverine valleys at 250m to a maximum altitude of 1,678m.

PHYSICAL FEATURES The terrain is generally hilly with many permanent and seasonal streams. The highest peak (Khao Pai Huai Kha Khaeng) lies in the extreme north of the sanctuary. Valleys are interspersed with small lowland plains. The sanctuary comprises the catchment area of the Huai Kha Khaeng, which flows through the middle of the sanctuary into the Kwae Yai and the Sri Nakarin Dam in Kanchanaburi Province, and much of the uppercatchment area of the Huai Thap Salao, which flows into the Sakrae Krang in Uthai Thani Province.

Red-brown earths and red-yellow podzols are the predominant soils, the former derived from limestone and found in the level uplands and Mae Chan Valley, whilst the latter is found in the Huai Kha Khaeng Valley. A physical feature that is important for wildlife is the presence of mineral licks. These occur throughout the sanctuary as either wet or dry, and most appear to be located on, or around, granite intrusions in areas with red-yellow podzolic soil and may be associated with the massive faults or lineaments in the intensely folded geomorphology of this area. Small lakes, ponds and swampy areas occur, some being seasonal whilst others are perennial; these are important wildlife habitats. Limestone sink holes are found; most are only about 20m in diameter and 10-12m in diameter, but some are more than two kilometres long, 250m wide and drop as much as 30m depth (ONEB, 1990).

CLIMATE Conditions range from tropical to sub-tropical. The climate is monsoonal, with a dry season from November to April. The heaviest rains generally arrive in September or October, as a result of typhoons in the South China Sea. Annual rainfall is about 1700mm. Temperatures range from an average of 19°C in December (min. 10°C, max. 28°C) to an average of 28°C in May (min. 20°C, max. 37°C) (Bhumpakkapan et al., 1985).

VEGETATION The vegetation is largely undisturbed, with little logging or shifting agriculture practised in the past. Five types of forest can be distinguished. The highest slopes are covered with hill evergreen forest (covering 38,400ha), while slopes above 600m generally support dry semi-evergreen forest (46,300ha). The rest of the sanctuary supports mixed deciduous (117,300ha) and bamboo forest (18,300ha), and dry dipterocarp forest (34,500ha) in areas with poor or shallow soil. In unusually moist areas along some rivers and streams, evergreen gallery forest is present. The result is often a patchy mosaic of vegetation types, particularly in valley bottoms. In lowland areas, mainly near the larger rivers, there are some small patches of open grassland (Round, 1985; B.J. Stewart-Cox, pers. comm.). Commercially important tree species include teak Tectona grandis, Terminatia nudiflora, Xylia kerii, L. calyculata, A. xylocarpa, D. alatus, H. odorata, Anisoptera cochinchinensis (RFD, n.d.).

FAUNA The fauna of both Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng includes an unusual mix of species with primarily Sundaic, Indo-Chinese, Indo-Burmese and Sino-Himalayan affinities, many of whose ranges do not overlap. Most species are either characteristic of the Oriental/Indo-Malayan region or more specifically associated with the Indo-Chinese province of that region, but with a strong Sundaic element included. A small proportion is Palaearctic.

Huai Kha Khaeng supports a significant proportion of Thailand's animal species, including several more commonly seen in the north or south of the country. Of Thailand's 265 mammal species (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977), 67 are known to occur in this sanctuary (Nakasathien et al., 1987). Among these are three of the National Reserved Wildlife Species of Thailand: wild water buffalo Bubalus arnee (E), mainland serow Capricornis sumatraensis (I) and hog deer Cervus porcinus. The presence of another, Thailand brow-antlered deer Cervus eldi siamensis (E), has not been definitely confirmed since two were shot in 1965. Some 24-40 water buffalo (the only herd in Thailand) are found in the south of the sanctuary, but there is some doubtabout whether or not there has been any interbreeding with domestic animals. Hog deer are said to have been seen at least twice just south of Huai Mae Dee, a tributary of the Huai Kha Khaeng, but they are assumed to number very few. Other threatened mammals include Asiatic wild dog Cuon alpinus (V), tiger Panthera tigris (E), leopard Panthera pardus (V) (black forms being as commonly seen as spotted), clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (V), Asian elephant Elephas maximus (E), estimated to number 150-200 animals (Storer, 1979), Asian tapir Tapirus indicus (E) (rarely seen, but tracks are common in parts of the sanctuary) and Fea's muntjac Muntiacus feae (E). Gaur Bos gaurus (V) and banteng Bos javanicus (V) are still fairly common, although they have become increasingly rare elsewhere in Thailand due to poaching. At least two species of otter have been identified, namely Oriental small-clawed Aonyx cinerea and smooth-coated Lutra perspicillata. All five macaque species occurring in Thailand are present, namely rhesus Macaca mulatta, crab-eating M. fascicularis, pig-tailed M. nemestrina, Assam M. assamensis and stump-tailed M. arctoides. The presence of these sympatric species may be the result of the area having been a Pleistocene refugium (Eudey, 1979). Other primates include silver leaf monkey Presbytis cristata, Phayre's leaf monkey P. phayrei and white-handed gibbon Hylobates lar.

Of Thailand's 900 species of birds (Round, 1985), 355 have so far been recorded in the sanctuary (Nakasathien et al., 1987). Many of these are now rare in Thailand, including green peafowl Pavo muticus (V), red-headed vulture Torgos calvus, Kalij pheasant Lophura leucomelana, Burmese peacock-pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, rufous-necked hornbill Aceros nipalensis and white-winged wooduck Cairina scutulata (Bhumpakkapan et al., 1985).

Also present are several nationally rare species of reptiles and amphibians, including Indian monitor Varanus bengalensis, giant Asiatic toad Bufo asper and Asiatic giant frog Rana Blythii (Bhumpakkapan et al., 1985).

A detailed summary discussion of the fauna of the combined Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng sanctuaries is given in ONEB (1990) and species lists have been compiled. This includes some 120 mammals, 400 birds, 96 reptiles, 43 amphibians and 113 freshwater fish as confirmed occurrences, with a number of species suspected as being present but not confirmed. Thirty-four internationally threatened species are also found within the confines of the two sanctuaries (ONEB, 1990).

CULTURAL HERITAGE "Rings of Stones", so placed to mark the site of buried treasures, are common in some parts of the sanctuary (e.g. near the Sap Far Pa Guard Station), but none has been investigated by archaeologists. There may be sites of interest to palaeo-anthropologists, but the area has not been surveyed.

LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION There are no longer any hill-tribe villages within the sanctuary. Some Karen villages were relocated in about 1976 from the southernmost area to the south-east in Ban Rai District. The one Hmong village in the west was relocated in 1986 (B.J. Stewart-Cox, pers. comm.). Thai villages have recently been established in the proposed buffer zone, and it is hoped that they will be re-located in due course (ONEB, 1990).

VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES The sanctuary is not open to the general public, but permission may be given to researchers, naturalists and education groups for specific purposes. About 1,000 visitors come to the sanctuary during the dry season. Permits can be obtained from the Wildlife Conservation Division in Bangkok, or from the Chief of the Sanctuary or the Chief of Khao Nang Rum. Huai Kha Khaeng is accessible via Uthai Thani. The journey by car takes 6-7 hours from Bangkok. The road from Uthai Thani to Lansak is metalled, but thereafter a four-wheel drive vehicle is often necessary. There are buses from Bangkok to Uthai Thani and Lansak, but no public service as far as the sanctuary.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES The Wildlife Conservation Division maintains a wildlife research station in Huai Kha Khaeng at Khao Nang Rum, and more than 50 projects have been carried out in the sanctuary (ONEB, 1990). A guest house is available for visiting scientists (Sayer, 1981). Surveys have included the identification of key elephant areas (Storer, 1979). Studies of bird communities have been carried out by Round (1985) and Bhumpakan et al. (1984). Current research includes work on green peafowl.

CONSERVATION VALUE Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most outstanding conservation areas in mainland South-east Asia on account of its largely undisturbed primeval forest (Anon., 1984). It contains one of the last important areas of lowland riverine forest remaining in Thailand, which supports the last viable populations of several riparian bird species in the country. These include green peafowl, lesser fishing eagle, red-headed vulture and crested kingfisher. It is also the most important area in Thailand for banteng and, together with Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary, for gaur. The combined area may be the only conservation area in Thailand large enough to offer long-term prospects for the survival of many large mammal species (Brockelman, 1987). The justification for the inscription of the Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng Sanctuary complex (ONEB, 1990) argues that the site is biogeographically unique, capable of sustaining flora and fauna indefinitely, of exceptional natural beauty and scientific value, and includes very high biological diversity. Being located in a transition zone between the tropics and sub-tropics and, perhaps, because it was a Pleistocene refugium, a number of species of birds and mammals are found to be sympatric here. Few other areas of dry tropical forest in the region are as large, as well protected or as pristine. The complex also contains outstanding examples of the rock formations which distinguish the western edge of mainland South-East Asia from the more stable continental core, and is probably one of the best modern examples of the impact of the Pleistocene epoch on the distribution and dispersal of South-East Asian fauna. The impact of geological activity on an area of pristine dry tropical forest is exemplified better than elsewhere.

CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT A management plan has been prepared by a team from Kasetsart University (Kutintara and Bhumpakkapun, 1988), and this has been discussed and approved by the Royal Forest Department's Management Plan Committee (ONEB, 1990). There are ten forest guard stations and a further two are being established. It is expected that 5 more stations will be established, bringing the total to 17, with a commitment to eventually reduce the area of sanctuary per guard station to 64 sq.km (ONEB, 1990). There are no guard stations in the extreme north or north-west of the sanctuary, and resources generally are inadequate for carrying out effective anti-poaching measures ( Brockelman, 1987; Kasetsart University, 1987). An attempt was made to reintroduce white-winged woodduck in 1985 (Anon., 1985). There isat present no legally defined buffer zone although the need for one is recognised. There is also a perceived need for conservation awareness programmes to help foster good relations with local communities, although previous attempts to achieve this around the sanctuary have not been successful (ONEB, 1990).

MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS The sanctuary is far from secure. Poaching is a persistent problem, but agricultural development, logging and dam projects to the east and south are facilitating access. The construction of the Thap Salao Dam to the east has resulted in deforestation of much of the buffer zone. The most immediate, although indirect threat was from the Nam Choan Dam project, recently revived by the Electricity Generating Authority in 1986 but shelved during 1988. The dam would have flooded the valleys of the upper Kwae Yai immediately due west of the sanctuary, severing it from Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary and thereby destroying the integrity of the two sites as a single conservation area.

STAFF One superintendent, ten deputies (one for each forest guard station), 30 rangers and about 150 guards. Khao Nang Rum Research Station in the sanctuary is staffed by a graduate research official, two permanent research assistants (also graduates), two graduate researchers, three permanent wardens and about 20 casual labourers (1987).

I have lost interest in the Trivia and time is also an important issue at present.
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Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 03:56 am
Oh - sorry to hear that (about the trivia)

I'm pretty 'super fit' (for a woman my age anyway- that's what I'm told by my doctor when I get my checkups).

It's all this hill walking - I've been walking essentially eight to ten miles a day for years now - I mean years - I started when I walked my dogs when I was a child.
My neighbor runs the same route I walk everyday but backwards and when we start at the same time we pass each other at the same point- he's like 'Jesus- you're walking as fast as I'm running and my legs are about a third longer than yours are.'

Strong too - I don't look it but I am. This kid (I say kid- but he was about 5'10 and 160 pounds and nineteen years old) was leaving before the bell rang. We were kind of kidding around and I said, 'Get back in here' and he said, 'I'm leaving' - and started running out - smiling back over his shoulder sort of daring me so I chased him down and grabbed the back of his shirt to pull him back in the class, gave the slightest yank and I pulled him off his feet. He was sitting on his butt on the floor in the hallway and he says to everyone, 'YO - Miss is MAD STRONG!!

Anyway - just had to let you know I could hold my own.

I do understand though that I'm not invited...okay...

No time for trivia huh - that's too bad..or maybe that's good if you're enjoying yourself more doing something else.
Anyway - your pictures are great Mathos.
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Reply Fri 30 May, 2008 04:13 pm
The photographs are much better if viewed in full screen mode.

If you right click on the same and save them to your picture manager, you can view them at leisure of course on full screen.

Remaining in the Siem Reap area of Cambodia, an important and very interesting part of the environment in general is 'Tonle Sap Lake'


The Great Lake or Tonle sap Lake is quite a geographical wonder.

It offers amazing insights into the no doubt centuries of traditional living along with the natural existence of human beings enduring contentedly as one on the lake with the birds, the animals, the vegetation and the numerous fish of the river/lake, not to mention the reptiles abounding throughout the location.

It is a very unique and indeed a natural splendour of Cambodia.

The Khmer's have celebrated for in excess of two hundred years the unique changing of the flow of the river.

For in the rainy season the Tonle Sap totally reverses it's direction. This causes the lake to increase to almost ten fold its size thereby making it the largest freshwater lake in the whole of Southeast Asia.

During the floods the river water combined with the rainfall engulfs the surrounding forest and consequently regulates the production of agriculture, ensuring the area is well covered with fresh and fertile silt to really encourage the local rice cultivation.

The lakes and rivers really are the lifeline for both the agrarian ad fishing fraternity attached to Cambodia.

The ancient Temples of Angkor depict in sculpted detail how life along the rivers and lake especially, affected all walks of life for centuries past.

During the past centuries the Great Lake has yielded many tons of fish per square mile and is respected as the life supplying force of the region.

This habitat attracts thousands of birds annually along with the fish eating waterfowl which also flock to the wetlands prior to the onset of the June rains.

There are numerous species of fish to be found in the lake. Species inhabiting the lake including carp, catfish { enormous sizes I have been informed } murrel, herring, climbing perch and gourami.

There are well in excess of three hundred fish in the lake, thereby ensuring a livelihood for the thousands of fishermen and of course the thousands of people who make the lake their home.

They still fish in the manners of old, simply casting their nets overboard.

Cambodia is a land of dense mountain jungle areas, flatlands, green rice paddies with elegant sugar palms and waterways.

The wildlife includes several endangered species, leopards, tigers, and the almost extinct jungle cow {Known as the Ko Prey}

Large herds of wild elephants roam in the hills and jungles whilst monkeys and snakes can be found in the forests and mountain areas.

A typical boat home such as the one below could well be home to a large family, it amazed Flobo and me, just how many could be found to be living in such a small place.


The Map below should give you an idea of the extent of Tonle Sap Lake.

It certainly surprised us the very first time we visited here, many years ago.

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Reply Fri 30 May, 2008 04:20 pm
The Village of Chong Khneas is at the edge of the lake being the closest point to Siem Reap.

It is possible to hire a boat {You have to be a passenger by the way} no self drive is allowed on the lake and the same is still quite heavily policed. (Well armed too)

You will see the different Khmer and Vietnamese boats on the lake, there are floating households, schools, clinics, markets, restaurants, mechanics shops, etc etc. In fact you will probably see everything you would take for granted in any town or city on land.

We took a small boat, ignoring the trappings of the flashy tourist type boats which are commencing to work the shore lines.

It's amazing what you do see happening.


Astounding might be a better word to use.


A floating giant basket of pigs. Oink oink.....


There are probably millions of people living on and by the shores of this enormous giant lake.

The same is their home.

Their bath, their cooking and drinking water, supporter of animal life as well as their personal floating farm stock.

Everything and everybody appears to defecate and urinate into the same.

The fish abound in their millions.

We realised that perhaps every piece of fish product we dined on in Cambodia, probably came from that water.


If you don't buy some bananas off me and my mum, I'll cry!

So yep, we bought some off him.

And every other kid who approached Flobo.
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Reply Fri 30 May, 2008 04:40 pm
A bit of information I thought quite good from The Internet.

Cambodia's Great Lake,

Tonle Sap Lake, is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia - a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest section of the country. In the wet season, the Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, swelling to an expansive 12,000 km2. During the dry half of the year the Lake shrinks to as small as 2500 km2, draining into the Tonle Sap River, which meanders southeast, eventually merging with the Mekong River at the 'chaktomuk' confluence of rivers opposite Phnom Penh. But during the wet season a unique hydrologic phenomenon causes the river to reverse direction, filling the lake instead of draining it.

The engine of this phenomenon is the Mekong River, which becomes bloated with snow melt and runoff from the monsoon rains in the wet season. The swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap River at the point where the rivers meet at the 'chaktomuk' confluence, forcing the waters of the Tonle Sap River back upriver into the lake. The inflow expands the surface area of lake more than five-fold, inundating the surrounding forested floodplain and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system. More than 100 varieties of waterbirds including several threatened and endangered species, over 200 species of fish, as well as crocodiles, turtles, macaques, otter and other wildlife inhabit the inundated mangrove forests. The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.

The lake sits only about 15 km south of Siem Reap town. If you take the ferry between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap you will cross the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.

They don't appear to have anything other than bananas to sell.


Some of the homes, look so neat in a peculiar sort of way.


People were doing something or another continually, everybody looked kind of busy.

An amazingly outstanding hive of activity.


It was amazing to see so many of the people blancing and leaning over at such angles without falling into the water.

I actually attempted to lean over like that off the settee at home as an experiment, I would have been swimming.
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Reply Fri 30 May, 2008 04:49 pm
Still following, Mathos...
thank you.
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