22nd - 27th February:
Technical difficulties with the Boat not only left us ship wrecked over night on one of our campsite islands, but has now resulted in us getting some downtime on the mainland. We are currently hammocking in a disused gazebo between the lake pier and the Ranger HQ while we wait for the boat to be repaired. Spent the day traveling with our boat driver to the region capital (Surat Thani) and retrieving a flip flop which was stolen by one of the local dogs the previous night. Ricky decided to play fetch with one of his flip flops only for the stray dog to steal and hide it down by the base of the lake.
As I write this a 9 inch centipede has just crawled past my feet and is now being pursued by one of our resident entomologists (Emily).
I also have to mention that from this moment on my blog will have significantly less pictures as my phone was ruined by water damage and my camera will no longer charge as the cable was broken in transit to Thailand. But as they say in Thailand - Mai Pru, Mai Pru!!! (No worries!!).
Some of the down time gave me the opportunity to go on a herping session where managed to find a Blandfords Brindle Snake hunting geckos on a nearby tree as well as a breeding pair of Small Scops Owls who let me get within 4 feet of them.
Hopefully, if my limited understanding of Thai is correct the boat should be ready this afternoon (27th) meaning we can finally return to the Lake and to our research.
13th - 16th February:
We spent the last 4 days based on a small island (100 square meters) in the upper north reservoir. When we arrived at the island we heard a huge crashing and rumbling sound. Then an almighty splashing sound. We followed the sound on the boat to a second island about 15 meters away. Our Thai guides jumped off the boat and dived into the forest. Just as I was about to jump onto the island there was again a huge crashing sound. Immediately followed by Grom our guide diving through the bamboo immediately followed by a Bull Gaur (Asian buffalo) at least a ton in weight. The Gaur then charged into the lake and swam to the mainland while we all stood about laughing and cheering Grom.
We normally have some free time in the evening and while we were stationed in the far northern section of the dam we decided to go on boat safaris each evening. One of the evenings we were fortunate enough to observe Gibbons and Leaf monkeys in the same tree. Leaf monkeys we have seen before but never Gibbons, despite hearing them hooting and hollering every morning since we arrived.
I have just now booked flights to Cambodia to spend four days there in March. This time I have checked the visa situation before hand so I can actually enter the country and not receive a patronizing email from my dear mother again!
12th Feb: So as some if not most of you know, I am an obsessive Herpetologist so I apologize for the following blog post but it will be entirely Gecko based. After a month I finally managed to find (With the help of Ricky, the hero!) a Tokay Gecko!! And capture her! Was quite a battle, involving me getting a nice bite on my right hand. But I managed to secure her (safely) and release her without harm. 1st time I have ever seen one of them in the wild and a truly fantastic experiance!!
9th Feb - 11th Feb:
Having found a hostel on the out skirts of Chinatown we made great use of the Chinese market for great street food and bargains as a result of some fantastic british bartering. We decided to sell out and to a trip to the Batu Caves a local tourist hotspot.... a massive mistake. The cave itself was fantasic utterly ruined by the shameless tourism! Kuala Lumpur again let us down when we tried to visit the city rainforest, which was still closed after 2 years because they are building a new path.... The nightlife, butterfly park and Chinatown saved our trip from being a total disaster but the sting from not getting a Burmese visa is still a very pain! Currently in the process of returning to Thailand and the lake which I will be very grateful to see again!
2nd February - 8th February:
After a trip into town we payed a breif visit to the Dam which is the source of the Lake. Driven around somewhat insanely by one of the rangers wife.
Returned to Phuket for our flight to Burma. Spent the night on Naiyang bev ach until our flight at 6am. After arriving at the airport we checked in to findout that we couldnt fly to Burma as we neglected to organize Burmese Visas which are vastly more complicated than one would expect. So we were forced to book another flight to leave Thailand (before our tourist visa expired). Costing us the same again, to fly to Kuala Lumpur. So 140 quid wasted but, lesson learned. Currently exploring Kuala Lumpur from our £5 per night hostel.
After spending the morning doing reptile surveys on three of the study islands and practising holding and blood sampling rat species we are making use of the Ranger Station WiFi to book a trip to Myanmar (Burma) when our Thai visas expire. Returning to Thailand after a few days.
30th Jan - 1st Feb:
A second (final) camera trapping expedition meant we had to go further north into the reservoir. Staying overnight in a ranger station (floating). Spent the afternoon throwing Thai teenagers off a floating log and going on a boat safari. Managed to see a water monitor do a very "graceful" dive out of a tree into the water and some leaf monkeys.
The final camera trap expedition meant we had to climb a ridge on the north edge of the sanctuary to find the game trail. On the way up we encountered a Sun Bear that was walking the opposite direction, but promptly turned around. Also saw a Great Argus which is a bulked up version of a peacock.
25th Jan - 29th Jan:
After finishing up reptile transects on the first 5 islands. I was asked to assist in the camera trap aspect of the research. This involved a 32km hike through the Jungle of Klong Saeng Wildlife preserve over 3 days. On the 1st day of saw a water monitor climb 20m up a tree in 3 seconds as well as numerous Elephant footprints.
2nd day started off with a sighting of a very fast (unidentified) snake as it swan away in the river. The afternoon saw us caught up in a wild pig stampede (scared straight towards us by our Thai field guides). All topped off by being chased by bees after we thought stealing honey would be a good idea.
I woke up on the 3rd day to find 4 bullfrogs hanging outside my hammock. Can you guess what was for breakfast boys and girls? Frog and Catfish red Curry!