I have been sad and regretful, and truthfully a little ashamed, that in two months I haven’t gone hiking once in Thailand. I am an avid day hiker and have always been wherever I lived and frequently. To go two months without hiking is just wrong in my world. The truth is, I have been too scared to go. Snakes. Number one reason is snakes. Even in our village, I stick to the roads, and walk in the middle if I can as there is bush and swampland throughout the town. Which is snake territory. There was even a snake living in a hole under the cement ramp/stair of staff house office, though thankfully Talia, Conservation Coordinator, got rid of it. I have seen dead snakes and luckily only a few alive ones. There are many poisonous snakes, and I have a major snake phobia. One of the programs we offer here is a conservation program which involves cleaning tanks for turtles and scrubbing the turtles to remove fungus in an effort to ensure the sustainability of the turtles in the breeding process; raising them until they are likely to survive a release out to sea. The Conservation program also does forest biodiversity surveys which involves hiking through the forest to identify and count species of wildlife. Almost every survey hike, the conservation folks come back with leeches on them. This also freaks me out, but obviously not as much as the snakes.
The long and short of it is that there is easy access for me to go hiking, but in two months I haven’t gone on a hike. I even tend to stick very much to the roads and avoid walking through grass to prevent leeches; a volunteer walking around a local town got a leech on her a few weeks ago. I really need to address my fears and about a week ago started to make a plan to get out hiking even for just a short one where I went with Hayley and Talia, the conservation staff, and get sandwiched between them to keep me safe. The plan was just in my head. Had to really start to convince myself to get past the fear of snakes and to realize that leeches are just harmless, if gross.
Well, this weekend a few of us staff went away for a weekend and took a long boat to Railay Beach. The area is breathtakingly beautiful and the area surround the beach is full of limestone cliffs covered in lush green jungle. Near the end of the day on Railay, Hayley and I discovered a trail up into the jungle that boasted a viewpoint. So, as a group we decided to try to follow it. In our tourist casual wear and flip flops, really just unprepared, but we did it!!!!
It was a short hike but involved going up slopes, grabbing vines and holding onto trees. Some slippery red clay and even some cave exploration. No snakes, though, I freely admit I was sweating beyond the hot humid jungle sweat in fear I may grab a rock or tree and there would end up being a snake on it!
I hiked in Thailand. And it was great!!!! Sometimes you just have to push yourself to try what you fear once for it to be faced and conquered so you can move on and do what you truly love! Yes, I did it, yes it scared the crap out of me, but it’s done and next time will be easier. I went hiking in Thailand!!!! I can’t wait to go again.