As do all the trips to Thung Yai, we used Lungpu Sakhon’s temple at Thong Pha Phum – Erawan -- as our staging area. From there, instead of going the longest route (the southern gate) or the less long western gate that we took in 2012, this time we took what I refer to as the northwest gate and the shortest way to get there. Here’s a map I put together of all three entryways and their respective routes to Washuku. They are not 100% accurate, but fairly close:
View Thung Yai in a larger map
The western portion of my Google Map is mostly based on this topographical map of western Thung Yai – the best I’ve found so far:
We left Wat Erawan with new sleeping bags – the warmest we could find; which had required a special trip to the next province (Udon Thani) from ours (Nong Bua). The bags are rated to 20-to-15 degrees Celsius (68-59 degress Farenheit) and it would turn out that we needed all of that, even with our lightweight bags stuffed inside and all our clothes on. It was, after all, the coldest time of year in
and this year was colder
than previous decades.
The ride north along Highway 323, from Thong Pha Phum to Sangklaburi is scenic, especially the are of houseboats that dot the upper end of the dammed section of the Kwai Noi (aka “The River Kwai”).
Just before Sangklaburi, we turned off east, making our way to the northeast gate to Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary at Sanepong.
After squaring our paperwork with the authorities, I took over as diver of one of the trucks which were now fully 4-wheel-drive engaged.