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nakrian

khi nok, among other things

A few weekends ago, the gang and I decided to take a little sight-seeing trip to Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima province (roughly an hour from my village). We drove by rice and tapioca farms, mountains, temples, and many street stalls. The views were absolutely breathtaking; it seemed as though everything was in Technicolor. Pak Chong, in my opinion, is Thailand’s interpretation of The Wizard of Oz.

Pak Chong is replete with many richly colored farms and fields

Field ready for planting with mountain back-drop in Pak Chong

After making a few stops along the way to take pictures and buy fruit at road-side stands (custard apples & 2lb mangoes), we finally arrived at our intended destination: Khao Lak Chang Bat Cave. The cave is about 3km from Khao Yai National Park and is actually quite difficult to find without the aid of GPS and a Thai-speaking friend.

We arrived at Khao Lak Chang at a quarter after 5:00pm which gave us enough time to hike up the mountain for a closer look at the cave before the bats began their nightly hunt. The mountain was rocky and the soil quite fertile, so hiking up to the cave was like a game of chutes and ladders: three steps forward, one slip back!

Hiking (and falling) up to the Khao Lak Chang cave

The smell of urine and guano grew exponentially stronger the closer we got to the cave’s entrance, as did the presence of flies and mosquitoes (the joke of the climb was that we were “undeturd” by the smell–clever, I know). The tiny cries of the khang-khaw* became more audible and more persistent, until I thought I would go crazy from the odor, the flies, and the droning chirps and shrieks of the bats.

Entrance of Khao Lak Chang Bat Cave

A gate was erected to protect the khang-khaw from meddling sight-seers (i.e. people like us), so we could not go exploring inside the cave. However, we were able to climb up the gate and snap a few photos of the immediate entrance. This was perhaps not a very safe endeavor as the mountain was steep, but it did yield some good shots of the activity inside the cave.

Khang-khaw preparing for their nighttime departure

While we might not have been able to see much inside the cave, the view of the farms and horizon below us were absolutely incredible.

View from the entrance of Khao Lak Chang Bat Cave

Shortly after seeing a 5-foot-long (1.5m) black, king cobra near the cave entrance (an adrenaline-inducing experience to be sure), khang-khaw began to make their way out of the cave to go on their nightly hunt. I snapped a few photos before we hurried down the mountain to take in the show in its entirety.

Bats beginning to exit the cave

Millions of bats leaving the cave at sunset

Clouds, mountains, and mountains of clouds

Bats, bats, bats!
Every so often Thai children would scream, causing the bats to momentarily scatter across the sky before reuniting in their tight stream

A cluster of khang-khaw

Filing out of the cave to go on their nighttime hunt for food

The show, which starts around 5:45-6:00pm, lasts for roughly an hour and a half. If you are ever lucky enough to see the rare, wrinkle-lipped bats leaving their cave in Pak Chong, you will be in for quite a spectacle. The sound of the bats overhead is like a strong wind, which is punctuated now and then by the shrieks and screams of young Thai children trying to disrupt the path of the bats. The experience was amazing and I strongly encourage all tourists and residents of Thailand to check out Khao Lak Chang Bat Cave.

* Bats

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