Thursday, December 25, 2014

Edible Plants Thailand: Ivy Gourd


Pak Tam Lung (Ivy Gourd) is very common in Thailand. The leaves, shoots, and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. This plant has respectable amounts of vitamins A and C.  Medicinally, it's used for diabetes, skin diseases, and as a laxative.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Khao Sok National Park wildlife images: Tapir and Gibbons

Moo just got back from three days in Khao Sok. In addition to seeing hornbills, langurs, macaques, and a variety of birds, the guests were treated to a Malayan Tapir and a lot of White-handed Gibbons.  Gibbons are quite common in the park. The Tapir was an uncommon treat.

Khao Sok gibbon image

Baby White-handed Gibbon in Khao Sok National Park

Thailand Tapir image

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Big-eyed Pit Viper

This beauty is a Big-eyed Pit Viper. Yes, it's dangerous, but not as dangerous as you might think.  In a recent Bangkok Post article, it was claimed that 7 - 8,000 people get bit by snakes in Thailand (which I find extremely difficult to believe), yet they fail to mention that on average 30 people per year actually die... that's a mere .38%.  That's 38% of 1%.

Snakes use venom for eating, it's not a weapon. Venom is actually modified saliva. Being such, part of the problem with a snake bite is tissue damage due to the prey (or you) starting to be predigested.

It is NOT in the snake's interest to inject you
with venom. The snake is extremely vulnerable while it is without venom and it uses a lot of energy for the snake to reproduce the venom. That's why the vast majority of bites a 'dry' bites (no venom). That's why 8,000 people can be bitten and only around 30 die in Thailand.


image Thailand Big-eyed Pit Viper
Photo by Benjamin Schaye
More people die from coconuts than that. You don't see folks declaring war on coconut trees, but there are many poorly written articles that give folks justification for killing every snake they see.

The green vipers tend to hang out in similarly color foliage. It's difficult to see them. If you pay attention to where you put your hands, which bushes you walk closely to, and exercise some common sense, you should never have to deal with a snake bite.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Roselle - wild edible plant

This is the common Roselle or Red Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) plant. Like all hibiscus, the flower is edible, though I prefer to eat it in the bud stage (red bud insert). It's refreshingly sour. The leaves are also sour and very edible. The young leaves, like most plants, are the most tasty.

Folk remedies claim this plant to be used as an aphrodisiac, antiseptic, astringent, digestive aid, cancer, cough, diuretic, sedative properties, and a general tonic.

Thailand edible jungle plants

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New kayaks for our Khao Sok fleet

We've added two FeelFree X-Press kayaks, with rudders, to our Khao Sok National Park fleet. These kayaks are very stable, making them perfect for watching wildlife. The Rudders mean you can glide up without having to use the paddle to keep straight.

If they paddle as good as they look, we'll buy a few more to replace some of our aging kayaks.

Kayaks for Khao Sok National Park

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trail Blazing Tool

More efficient and certainly more energy efficient than wielding a big knife or machete, a good pair of pruning sheers are invaluable in the type of jungle we have here. Vines, tendrils, Salacca Palms, brush, and small branches are easily cleared with these.  Plus, there is very little chance of hurting yourself like you can with a blade.

When traveling through the jungle, as a backup plan, we put leaves upside down on the trail to mark it. The GPS is good for the general lay of the route, but the finer details are best laid out by clippings.

On the ridge route that we've been working on, the trail is very well defined at times, then just seems to vanish... leaving us to trail-blaze to find it again.

Jungle trail tools

Friday, August 8, 2014

Phuket - Phang Nga Hiking Trip

I uploaded a lot more pics of our hiking/survival routes in Phang Nga Province at http://www.pinterest.com/paddleasia/phang-nga-province-jungle-hiking-trekking/

Phuket Phang Nga hiking trip

Wild Edible Ginger Fruit

A seldom-seen fruit on a very common ginger species. I took a small bite. It had a really sharp ginger taste. I assume it is edible, but haven't been able to find it in my many books or online.

Thailand wild edible ginger fruit

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rafflesia Kerrii in Phang Nga Province

The ultimate sighting in the plant kingdom here... a rare Rafflesia kerrii. The largest species of Rafflesia, the Rafflesia Arnoldi is not present in Thailand.

We walked along a mountain ridge for five hours before seeing this. It was raining and the leeches were out in force. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I've seen this flower in bulb form many times. It's rare to see it in bloom.


It is only in bloom for two or three days before it starts to decay.

Thailand Rafflesia image

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Edible salacca palm frond core

Salacca Palm (Lagam in Thai) - it has a cluster of sour and a bit sweet fruit, but the core of the frond is also edible. It's soft and quite sweet.

Salacca Palm - wild edible plant


I can't find any information on the amount of calories available from the core of this plant, but it should be somewhere around 1 calorie per gram. As it's readily available, in a survival situation this is a useful plant to know. The psychological advantage of having a lot of this in your stomach is worth the effort.

wild edible plants of Thailand

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wild Edible Taro Plant

The widely distributed Colocasia genus' most commercially famous member is the Taro plant. It's extremely easy to find in the wild.  The 'corms', the bulky stalk above the tuberous roots, are higher in calories than potatoes: 100 grams of corm has over 110 calories.

Therefore, as the average adult can easily get by on 1,500 - 2,000 calories per day, especially in a survival situation, this could prove to be an invaluable source of energy. This is also a slow-burning complex carbohydrate, so the energy will sustain.

The entire plant is edible and the different parts provide different necessary nutrients. The corms and tubers are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The tubers are a good source of Potassium as well.

The leaves contain good amounts of the B vitamin complex and 100 grams of cooked leaves provide over 100% of the RDA for vitamin A. Good levels of the antioxidant Beta Carotene are also present.

wild edible Taro plant
Wild Taro... easy to find, easy to pull up, and packed with energy


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coastal Survival Wild Edible Plant - Tropical Almond

Tropical Almond trees (Terminalia catappa) are common on beaches throughout Thailand and the general region. Though not really easy to open, the nut inside is edible.

It does not taste like an almond. I think it's called an almond because the outside seed looks like an almond. The tropical almond is a different family and genus.

Image Thailand tropical almond
The very common Tropical Almond Tree.

The very useful Sea Hibiscus tree - coastal survival

The very common Hibiscus tiliaceus (Sea Hibiscus) has an edible flower. You can make tea with it or eat it raw.  Though considered famine food, you can eat the young leaves, inner bark, and roots. They don't taste good, but they are edible.

Sea Hibiscus wood is also very useful. It's a light wood that is excellent for starting fires as both tinder and kindling. The bigger pieces are perfect for making bow & drill sets and for fire plough.
Edible Sea Hibiscus flower
Edible Sea Hibiscus flower.

Thailand wild edible food plants
Sea Hibiscus Flowers are red or yellow. Both can be on the same tree.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Creek Trekking, easy access through the thick tropical jungle

There is no shortage of lovely little creeks in Southern Thailand. They offer a fun and generally easy way to access otherwise difficult jungle.

In Phang Nga Province, we've got several creek hikes. There are small waterfall encounters from time to time. Some of the more formidable ones usually have an optional way around via the jungle. Some of the waterfalls are quite climbable.

We don't take risks unless they are calculated in our favor and all safety precautions are in place. Several of our treks are extremely easy.

The other nice thing about hiking in creeks is that the riparian region (near water) tends to have the most biodiversity.
Thailand image caterpillar
Really pretty caterpillars... that we didn't touch.

Phang Nga jungle trekking image
Really comfortable and easy hiking through a beautiful creek.

Thailand jungle hiking in creek
Walking sticks help a lot. I made a bunch.

Southern Thailand waterfall trekking
This is one of our favorite lunch spots.

Thailand waterfall and pool
There is an easy trail through the jungle that goes around this waterfall.

Trekking in Phang Nga Province - discovering unique critters

The Phasmida family (stick insects) offers some really unique specimens. This is a Leaf Insect, so called for very obvious reasons.

As with most stick insects, you have to really pay attention to spot them. I'm always on the lookout for them and other insects and I spot quite a few, but I'm sure I'm missing a lot more.
Thailand trekking, Phang Nga Province
This little guy (girl?) was a champion at standing still.




Thailand Leaf Insect image Phang Nga

Friday, May 30, 2014

Making Connections in Phang Nga Province – Jungle Trekking and Survival Opportunities



An easy section of the creek hike
Last year around this same time, I was heavily surveying Phang Nga Province for trekking and jungle survival routes. At the time, I had a guide who was from that area. He introduced me to a lot of local guys, all long-time friends of his. We went all over the place exploring.  Most of the places they took me were way too difficult for normal people unfortunately.


After each trip, I paid everyone a nice amount of money and usually bought a bunch of beer as well. It looked like I had made a really good and meaningful thing going. I honestly liked all of these guys and wanted to help put a bit of coin in their pockets.

This is an unopened Rafflesia bulb.
The flower is quite rare
and isn't open for very long.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, they started slacking off really badly.  So, regretfully, I’ve resorted to going back and learning the best of those routes myself. I had the routes in my GPS, but the trails were often very tricky making it extremely easy to get off track.


The best way to deal with the type of thick jungle here is to put a lot of waypoints in and also to recognize landmarks such as certain trees, rocks, downed trees, special plants, etc. I also tend to either clip a few plant tops or bend them in the direct from which I came. That way, if I’m between obvious landmarks and the trail isn’t obvious, I can notice these out-of-place plants/plant parts. Something as simple as one fresh leaf upside down on the ground is all it takes if you’re really paying attention.


Another trick is to take my foot or my walking staff and scrape the ground. This is especially helpful at trail junctions.


Two of the routes we organized last year were a lovely walk up a creek. This route was quite easy as long as you wore shoes that gripped the somewhat slippery rocks. There are some lovely waterfalls and cascading sections on this creek. The jungle on both sides was very impressive with a lot of old growth trees. This area has a good variety of wild edible plants. The frog and lizard population is significant.


An easy section of the ridge walk
I would be very happy to offer this creek hike to moderately fit adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and folks who are interested in jungle survival.


At one point, about three quarters of the way to the last point we normally go on this particular creek walk, I previously noticed a nice confluence with another creek. When I got home and plugged that into Google Earth, I noticed that it came very close to another hiking route we created. This other route is a ridge walk and it’s fairly easy. There are a few options, like a shortened route (which actually requires a steep descent) or the longer version.


So, recently I’ve made a few solo trips up to this area to do two things: explore up the creek (confluence) to see how far I could go and to check out the terrain. Well, most of it is actually quite easy. The scenery is really nice, with an inordinate amount of birdlife, including the very uncommon Chestnut-naped Forktail. I’ve seen them on the last three trips there.  The stunning Red-backed Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher was spotted a couple of times too. There are mixed species ‘bird waves’ frequently crossing this area of jungle.


Equee, one of the many delicious wild fruits.
There are dozens of fruits available
in the spring and early summer.
On my last exploratory trip up this creek, I did run into a couple of mildly challenging falls, but overall the traveling was smooth and easy.


The further point I reached, however, got a much steeper. Looking at my GPS I noted that I was a mere 400 meters from the ridge walk… bingo! Back at home and onto Google Earth I went. I needed to figure out exactly where best to connect the two routes. Zooming in, tilting, swinging around, got it… I think.


Off to Phang Nga Town I went. Even though it only takes about 90 minutes to get from my house to this area in Phang Nga Province, I wanted an early start. I had no idea what sort of terrain I was heading into and I wanted to add cushioning (time) for the ‘what if’.


I do most of my exploring solo these days. I like being all alone in the jungle. I carry enough gear to spend a bit of time out there if something goes really wrong.  I also let my webmaster and friend, Lee, know my general proposed GPS coordinates, so if something does go really wrong, he can send help. I contact him as soon as I’m out of the jungle on each jaunt. This route planning and having someone at home with the information is crucial for responsible adventuring. It’s especially imperative if you’re going solo. If someone is with you and one of you gets hurt, the other person can go for help. That option isn’t available if you’re solo, thus the need for a backup plan.


OK, the morning of May 29th and I slept a bit later than normal or planned, but I got up ready to explore. I had walked the ridge walk trail twice recently to familiarize myself with this fairly tricky route. There are places where the trail is obvious, and then there are places where it seems to not exist.


I reached the point where the creek was only 400 meters away. I found a bit of a gulley that looked doable, so I headed down. Hmm, within no time I was at the precipice of a steep drop-off. This isn’t going to work.


One of the many challenging sections.
It's safe if you're slow and
meticulous about your
hand and foot placement
Heading back up to the ridge, I carried on a bit and noticed that my GPS said I was pointing in the right direction. I reached a point where the trail went left, but where I needed to go was right. It was down.


There was no trail. My goal was to both find the path of least resistance, but also to not zig zag too much. The very uneven terrain proved this difficult. I therefore chose to go down in the ‘general’ direction, marking my way by cutting stuff down, stuff that will likely grow back in a couple of weeks as that’s what happens in the jungle. I also cut two markings on the bark of trees on the backside, the side I’d see when I got back. I had a GPS of course and I had extra batteries, but if something happened to this one device, I didn’t want to be screwed. There’s nothing wrong with being redundant.  I also made it a point to turn around frequently to notice how the trail would look going back up. This is fundamental in jungle travel. If you’ve only paid attention to where you’re going and not the way back, there’s a really good chance that you won’t recognize it. I looked for landmarks and made sure the markings on the trees (that I made) were actually visible. My goal was to be able to see from one marking to the next one, ideally. This wasn’t always possible in the thick jungle, but it was at least a goal.


Considering how thick and uneven the terrain was, it was surprising that I never really got geo-physically discombobulated (lost). I maintained a fairly direct path.


I came to a downed tree. It looked like the base of this tree was a spring as there was a ravine. My GPS said that’s exactly the way I needed to go.  Crossing the downed tree was not easy. I made a lot of noise to notify any potential bad guys such as snakes, centipedes, etc. that I was coming.


I stopped to drink some water and eat some sunflower seeds. I noticed that it took quite a bit longer to make this short distance than hoped, but then again I was being meticulous with the route marking. I knew it would be quicker going back up and also going back down on my next visit now that I’ve got it sorted.


The creek proved to be troublesome. Thick vines and thorny bits were common. The going got slower. At one point it was so thick that I headed up the bank a bit. I rejoined the creek further down.


Phang Nga trekking trails
The drop to the connecting point.
Finally, water started appearing. This was a good thing as my supply was getting low. I went into my pack and got my water filter straw. I drank copious amounts of the chilled jungle juice. Kneeling in the small pool and concentrating on quenching my thirst, I awoke from my Nirvanic occurrence completely content.


Carrying on, the terrain got rather challenging. I came to a falls. The rocks were slick. It was mildly concerning as I was alone. I saw a way down. I was sure I could make it down. What I wasn’t 100% sure of was being able to make it back up. However, as I went down, I visualized the return journey. Yes, this is doable… as was the next set of falls.


According to my GPS I was heading in exactly the right direction for my rendezvous with the creek hike. 


Looking at the general lay of the land I noticed a slight issue: everything disappeared.


I looked into the abyss.


OK, I’ve been walking for almost five hour and I’ve got about four hours of sunlight left. Common sense is telling me to turn around. My GPS said I was 58 meters away from connecting with the creek. 


I’ll be back… with ropes.


Now, the race is not really against time as my experience tells me that I always make much better time going back. It’s generally half the time. The trail, after all, was already cut and marked.  Going up some of the spots I came down could be challenging, but it turns out that they weren’t.


I made it back to my truck with almost two hours of sunlight left. 


I need to clean up this route a bit. I need to go back up there with the right tools to make it an easier track. I don’t like harming the jungle and what I will do is not harmful. Clearing some of the thorny vines, sawing some of the deadfall, and perhaps cutting a few steps in choice locations will make it safer and more enjoyable.


When finished, this route will be a good hard day for diehard adventurers. You’ll see a wide variety of terrain, enjoying wonderful flora and fauna as you go. This is for those who want a hard trek.


For those who want to focus on jungle survival, this would make an excellent two-day trip. There is a assortment of wild edible plants and during certain seasons, like right now, you can also enjoy some delightful wild fruit.


If you’re not hardcore or not sure if you’re hardcore, both of the individual hikes, the ridge walk and the creek walk make wonderful moderate day trips.


Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to chat about your options.


Skype user name: khao-sok

FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paddle-Asia/215328841962908
Our Jungle Survival group is on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/155052337962090/ 
There are lots of wonderful photos at http://pinterest.com/paddleasia/

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wild Elephants of Khao Sok

There are some more new wild elephant images at http://www.pinterest.com/paddleasia/wild-elephants-in-khao-sok-national-park/

Wild elephant relaxing in the water on a hot day in Khao Sok National Park.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trekking in Phang Nga Province

Check out this video from a nice trek from Phang Nga Province. The goal was to link this creek hike to a ridge walk hike. I took my GPS. When I plugged it into Google Earth, it ended up being right in line with ridge walk. I'll go back and finish this sometimes soon.  http://youtu.be/A-c7gd_us_k

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wild Medicinal Plant - Frangipani

Frangipani was originally from the Americas. Not only does it have one of the nicest fragrances (in my opinion) of any flower out there, it also has medicinal properties. You can make a poultice wrap with the leaves for bruises and ulcers. The sap can be used to treat rheumatism. The crushed bark is good for treating a variety of skin ailments.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Edible Wild Plant - Fishtail Palm

One of the most common edible plants on this side of the world and elsewhere is the Fishtail Palm. The roots are edible and not only edible, but tasty. They are sweet and sort like coconut.

The outer bark of more mature trees offer a very fibrous material that is excellent fire tender.

Fishtails Palms are all over the place here. There is no need to go hungry with these being so prolific. Between these and the hundreds of species of ginger, you can easily get quite a few carbs with very little effort.

Outer bark of a mature Fishtail Palm

Easy to recognize and very abundant

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The very useful Sea Hibiscus

The amazing Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) has an edible flower and young leaves. The bark is some of the best rope-making material available. The wood is some of the best for starting a fire, both and tender and kindling. It's also extremely good for making a friction fire either with a bow and drill set or as a fire plough.
Even sun-dried a bit, this flower is still edible.  It makes a nice tea as well.

Both yellow and reddish flowers can exist on the same tree.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Inexpensive Addition to Your Fire Kit

Part of my fire kit is a few of these 'magic' candles. They costs almost nothing, they don't take up any room, they stay lit for at least a couple of minutes, and you can't blow them out... neither can Mother Nature.

Once I've got a flame, I either go for a strip of bicycle inner tube rubber as it will stay lit for quite some time or I get one of these candles going.

During the wet season here in Southern Thailand, it just makes sense to have options and to be prepared. I can start a fire by rubbing sticks... but realistically, when everything is soaking wet it's extremely time-consuming and there is no guarantee.

I carry enough tender and kindling to get a small fire going. It takes up very little room. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

Thai Food images

I just added a few new images of some of my favorite Thai foods to Pinterest. Check it out at http://www.pinterest.com/paddleasia/thai-food/

Kao Kru Kapi

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thailand Wild Fruit in the Spring

This is a wonderful time to be lost in the jungles of Southern Thailand. It's always easy to find edible plants, but during the spring months, it's easy to find very tasty fruit.
Ginger bulbs.

Lagam (in Thai)... Salacca Palm fruit

Wild Rose Apple flower. Once this falls off, the succulent fruit starts to grow.

Luk Wai (Vine Fruit). This is extremely tasty!

This fruit seldom reaches the ground in tact as monkeys absolutely love it! It tastes like orange sherbert.

Ma Fai fruit, a common fruit tree here. The fruit grows off of the trunk, making them easy to collect.

Wild Custard Apples... very sweet treats.

We have over a hundred fig (ficus) tree species here. This is one of the few that is actually edible for humans.

Very tasty vine fruit.

Luk Mak, an extremely sweet berry that is easy to gather.

Wild Edible Plants of Thailand

Stroll with me and Ms. Moo through our yard in Phuket Town and see all of the edible plants, most of which are actually found in the jungle... all of which are quite tasty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4GxeRB0Meg

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Butterfly Menu for a Frog

The cute little frog is always on the dinner table or on this poster of butterflies. I didn't fully understand why it would sit and stare for so long until it finally jumped at one of the butterflies and tried to eat it... apparently this is a menu to this little froggy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Klong Saeng Wildlife Images


It is rather easy to slowly paddle closely to wild elephants in Klong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary. On this trip, we got close to two different elephants, Sambar Deer, a Red Muntjac Deer, a bunch of different monkey species, and we saw a lot of amazing birds while kayaking.