Phu Khieo Nature Sanctuary
The Phu Khieo Nature Sanctuary is located in the north-east in the province of Chaiyaphum. About 8 hours away from BKK, the drive is smooth except for numerous vehicles grossly over-laden with sugar cane stalks on the way to the processing factories. Some of these vehicles were retrofitted to accommodate extra load but hazard lights were lacking or have inadequate lights and so can be a traffic hazard if one is travelling at night. We stopped at the town for lunch and the meal although delicious, was not typical of Thai meals that we were much used to. The taste was milder and which I enjoyed as it was not spicy.
After reaching the Phu Khieo Nature Sanctuary, it is another 16 km more before we reached base camp (another 30 minutes of travelling at least). Accommodation was spartan – mattresses on the floor and no hot water. Bathing at 16 Deg C is a quickie affair. The lights only work from 6.30pm-9pm and we charged our phones and camera batteries at the eatery area owned by chef “Son” and her husband. Meals were only available there and we could not get out to town for dinner as the camp gantry closes at 5.30pm. But pretty chef “Son” knows the way to your heart (via the stomach of course). She even got me the soft ripened durians that I craved (Thais eat their durians unripe) and which I gladly shared with her.
The male Green Peafowl readily flaunted its outspread feathers to try to seduce the nonchalant females. When I was photographing the male Peafowl at closer distance, one of its female companion physically stood its ground and indirectly told me to bugger off. It probably wanted undisturbed attention. The Blue Magpie was nesting near where we stayed. But the highlight of Phu Khieo was the Siamese Fireback. We even got another lifer – the Silver Pheasant. I had the chance to follow the rangers on a nocturnal trip by car. Hog deer were readily encountered.
We had an unpleasant experience with photographers from a certain country who insisted on photographing by the water puddle even though they were not registered for the limited slots. One even sat next to my hide exposed! Even when the rangers politely told one of the photographers to move off, he persisted to stay and some plants were removed by him. When we have to maintain silence, there was boisterous conversation. I was later told after the trip that the Park rangers closed the Nature Sanctuary because of the damage. Their “guide” was most unprofessional. I am afraid one day someone will get hurt if the industry is not tidied up. My Guide (Guide A aka Arjiin) was helpful in making sure that I held my slot and the other Thai photographers that day were not inconvenienced by such nasty behaviours.