Off to the National Park

Trip Start Sep 21, 2011
Trip End Mar 21, 2012

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A good nights sleep and a bit of a lie in and then we breakfast at a roadside noodle stall near the hotel.  At 8am we set off south east from Mukdahan for the 17km ride out to the Mukdahan National Park - Phu Pha Thoep.  I was expecting to pay 400Bht each to enter the park so was very pleasantly surprised to pay 100Bht for me and only 20Bht for Jai.  We set off into the park on foot climbing the steep slope up to a an area of strange sandstone rock formations that have eroded into shapes that look like mushrooms, camels, crocodiles, crowns and satelittle dishes depending upon how good your imagination is !!  Good fun scrambling around the rocks and nice to be out in the open.  Climbing on we pass the Hin Thoep rocks and reach Lan Mudchalin, an expanse of flat rock said to be covered in wild flowers between September and December.  There are still small groups of flowers here and enough to give an impression of what it myust have looked like earlier but it would appear that the season has finished already.  Climbing on to the top we reach Pha Oot viewpoint named after a rock formation that looks like a camel - well, it did vaguely.  Next stop a second viewpoint called Pha Ngoy where there was great views over the forest far below us.  There were another couple of viewpoints a few km further on but the effort of reaching them persuaded us not to bother.  There was also a waterfall, although with very little water, signed at 650m away and even this seemed to far for Jai.  There was acave by the falls that contained old wooden Buddha images that I would have liked to see but I called it a day as well rather than go on alone and leave her there.  On our descent we passed a lot of school groups from Mukdahan but they all looked bored stiff preferring to sit in the shade and play with their phones.
I had read about some prehistoric rock art that could be found in the park but we had seen no mention of it in the small maps that we had picked up.  Arriving back at the Visitor Centre Jai asked someone and was told that it wasnt here at all but a few km back towards Mukdahan, still inside the National Park.  We left on the bike and found the turn off the lady had drawn for us on a small map. (Coming from MUkdahan about 11km out of town on your right, it is signposted in Thai).  We rode about 2km along a small road, passed a lake where locals were fishing, and reached another small visitor centre manned(?) by one woman.  She told us that the paintings were about 1.5km away from there but is was a rocky walk.  It was now late morning and was warming up so we decided to give it a miss for the timebeing and maybe come back later this afternoon.  Rode back into town and the hotel where we enjoyed a well deserved curry before returning to the room and the welcome of the aircon.
The clouds came in a bit mid afternoon so at 2:30 we set off again with a mind to see the cliff paintings.  We reached the visitor centre to be greeted by two park rangers - if only there had been just the one I suppose he would have been the Lone Ranger - sorry !!  They told us that it would take at least three hours to walk there and back and it would be getting close to dark by then and they simply would not let us go.  Not being in the best of moods we left and set off back to Mukdahan taking a turn off jst outside of town to climb the steep hill up to the temple at Wat Munman(sp).  The little bike struggled with the hill and the weight on the back but we made it to the top - memories of Doi Suthep in Chiangmai.  Great views back over town with even the Tower dwarfed in the distance.  Quite a pleasant temple but they have plans to construct an enormous white Bhudda on the hillside here.  There is a model to show what will be built and already a huge concrete platform is under construction - they do love their concrete here !!  Descending back into town is more scary than the climb up and we head straight back to the hotel and drop the bike off.  Walking a few yards there is a small restaurant on the corner - Sala Foremost - where we sit and have a beer watching the world go by.  We are soon hungry as well so eat here at the same time.  Return to the room for a coffee then after dark back to the same place for another beer and a bit of people watching.
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