Monday, April 18, 2011

Journey into the jungle, let its rhythms float your cares away

"When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back tino the jungle ..."
- Martin Sheen as "Captain Willard" in the 1979 film, Apocalypse Now!

Okay, so I mentioned in my last blog post that I spent some time in Thailand at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts lodge. I stayed there one night, but I really wish I could have spent more time there.

View of the main eating and drinking area, from my "porch."
I arrived in a torrential downpour, via dugout canoe (motorized, thankfully, or I would have really been soaked.) Not that it would have mattered that much. Being wet is part of being in the jungle. As long as I can keep my camera gear dry, I'm happy.

What is it that's so special about a jungle lodge - or for that matter, being in the jungle?

It's really hard to explain, at least to someone who has never been in the jungle or someone who doesn't feel the same tug. Obviously, there's a romantic appeal to being in the jungle, at least there is for me. I love the sounds, the scents, the feel that there's so much life contained within its environs. As a kid growing up, I loved watching movies or cartoons that involved jungle adventures. Still do, as a matter of fact...that's why I have the complete original Jonny Quest series on DVD, as well as all the Indiana Jones movies.

At the same time, there are things about the jungle that are not all that appealing, chief among those being the heat, the bugs, and the fact you never seem to have dry clothes to wear because you've soaked everything you own in sweat during your forays into the jungle.

Like Martin Sheen's character demonstrates in the opening scene of the movie Apocalypse Now!, there can be a real ambiguity about being in the jungle, at times it seems like a love-hate relationship.

A Mon woman demonstrating one of her tribe's dances.
For me, it's mostly love. I love the jungle. Of course, one of my passions - parrots - is centered around the jungle, as that's where most parrot species live. I've been very fortunate in my life that I have seen wild parrots in jungles around the world - as well as some other pretty cool wildlife like gorillas, orangutans, hornbills, monkeys and snakes to name but a few.

So, it stands to reason, someone with my interest and love of the jungle would also love staying in jungle lodges. (I've camped in small tents along jungle rivers, and while it's fun, it's also nice to have a bed to sleep in, as I have on trips to Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Malaysia and now Thailand.)

The lodge at River Kwai Jungle Rafts does it a bit better than most because it floats on the river. It has no electricity (which I think is kind of cool) so kerosene lamps are used to light your room at night. (It also helps if you bring a Petzl headlamp). There is also no air-conditioning, but the river seems to help keep things cool at night.

There's an outdoor "Jungle Bar" you can sidle up to and order a cold beer like a Singha or a Chang. It has great views of the jungle surrounding you on all sides. It even has a jungle spa if you want to relax with a massage.

Time for a cold Singha after the show.

The lodge also offers plenty of other activities, including canoeing/kayaking, elephant rides, fishing, bird-watching and hiking. At night, after supper, members of the Mon tribe of Burma entertain guests with cultural dance.

Then there are the sounds...
Lying in my bed in the dark, I hear night birds calling to each other in the depths of the forest.

Then I hear something large crashing through the underbrush on the other side of the river. A wild boar perhaps, or maybe a deer. Over breakfast, I hear the trumpeting of elephants, announcing the start of another day in paradise.

Yes, I definitely have jungle fever ... I can hear that jungle rhythm...

1 comment:

  1. John,
    You are transporting me back to Thailand with all of your posts! And, the jungle — I too love jungles and have traveled to many jungles throughout the world. It is difficult to explain what the draw is to someone who has only seen them on TV or the movies. You have to experience the heat, humidity, vegetation, wildlife, parrots, bugs, canoes, deet...and those torrential downpours! :)