We opted to travel by the tourist steam train up the mountain instead of by bus or jeep. I hate getting car sick. And I love trains. The train had just begun a new summer schedule so there were special gifts and everyone was super excited. Whenever we went through a tunnel, everyone would yell.
At first we saw the mountains in a distance, then we climbed them. We saw waterfalls, monkeys, a wild elephant, purple trees . . . and tea plantations.
Did we ever need a vacation. Yet I feel strange even writing those words, because many people don’t get to go away for a vacation. They only stop working when they are sick or they’ve lost their job. Traveling for a vacation is a sign of being rich, isn’t it? I am so glad that I get to have a vacation.
We ubered, then flew, then subwayed, then trained, then jeeped, then trained there. Phew. And to think the journey was relatively easy to what it was 20 years ago! I am thankful for a husband who is superb at organizing travel.
We all were already very happy (with our full tummies) to be finally entering into the park. But then, what was that???!! A horn bill? We birders had been saying to each other, “We might even see a horn bill, who knows!” But to be greeted by several Great Horn Bill upon entering the park? Wow. We were parked, recovering from the sighting of these huge birds, when who comes plodding down the road. Yes. A wild elephant.
Hello, big dude. As Steve said, “Ten Thousand baht” — would this creature touch our rented truck? He was huge. Now that was a wonderful start to the time in the park!
On the way, on the way to jungle time! We love our vacations with Beth& Steve& co. We have very similar tastes of what is fun and what is not. For these small-town gardener hikers living in megacity concrete world, what we want to do during vacation is get somewhere green. Period. A place with clean air and starry skies is also a priority!! So we took the 3 hour train trip up to Isaan to Khao Yai national park. It was a long trip for these small ones and the hungry and thirsty nursing mothers. Picking up the rental truck and trying to find lunch in a new city was also stressful. BUT!! Who knew what awaited us!!
We were studying bridges in home school. The activity of the day was listed as “look at a bridge”. Well, Chittagong has some big bridges! We had some time before the next wedding party in the evening. I had always wanted to walk over this bridge anyway. It was a hot walk even in November. A few days later, when we got home, the kids made some model bridges. The fanciest one turned out to be the least strongest.
On the last evening of our trip, the sun came out and the rain stopped. Now we had not let the weather get us down or limit us. But when the sun came out, oh my! We all gathered on the top desk and enjoyed watching the scenery as we slowly came into Khulna.
Get this — like we needed more happiness — the crew did a barbecue on the deck. That’s the captain grilling for us. The open air made us ravenous, especially as we enjoyed the fragrant smells for an hour before.
I was surprised how deserted the Sundarban national forest really was. I mean — this is Bangladesh — it’s a packed country. But in the forest itself, we saw so few people. Just miles and miles of wilderness. There was very little pollution, except right at the bay. The top picture is at the bay. Even though there was a hurricane nearby, (thus all the rain and wind), we got into a smaller boat and walked through the forest, grasslands, and mangroves to the beach. The walk was about an hour long, and we had fun identifying trees and marveling over the deer bounding away from us. The beach was beautiful and the water was warm. But all that rain and wind tired us out quickly and even the adults started to go blue in the face. So we walked back. Poor M was so cold and with the wind our umbrella was not much help. It was strange — it couldn’t have been colder than 70, but with the wind and rain it felt almost unbearable to the little kids. I was glad that my baby was safe and dry on the boat with Jacob! The waves had gotten rougher and the little boat had a rough time facing the big boat at a good angle for us to get off. The staff with us were all smiling and saying we had nothing to worry about, but all of us were feeling shaken up with the waves breaking over the boat. When the last person had gotten on the big boat, the engines roared and we left the coast. I heard that the captain was not too happy with the amount of time we had been away — maybe the hurricane had come closer?