Stand By Me

Our first stop was Khao Sok National Park, which is comprised mainly of ancient jungle. If the guidebook was to be believed, it was teeming with wildlife. Maybe Jess and I would see a gibbon, spot a clouded leopard, or even hear the sound of a barking deer.

Upon entry into the national park, it definitely seemed to have that “national park atmosphere” that I’ve experienced in the US. Some simple wooden signs, a visitor center with maps and geography lessons, a few bored park rangers standing about....

Feeling more at home than anywhere else in Thailand, I anxiously took a map and we selected a short four-kilometer hike to see “Nam Tok Sip Et Chan” (Eleven-step waterfall).

Our hike took shape as most of my stateside hikes had. The initial fascination with the scenery. Then a light boredom as the new gains monotony. Less talking, less thinking, just walking.

Nearing the end of the fourth kilometer, we approached a stream and could hear the faint roar of the waterfall. While contemplating how to ford the river, we suddenly noticed activity on our shoes.

Short brown worms were writhing about, excitedly finding their way into our sneakers!

We hadn’t felt a thing. Under my sock, one had its fang-teeth sunk into my ankle and was spilling some of the blood it was sucking. And as our eyes became accustomed to their color and motion, they at once appeared all around us. The muddied earth was literally pulsing with their advances.

All of the sudden, I didn’t feel at home at all. I never battled leeches in the US and I was not acclimated to their nature. I lost my composure as I had to literally tear the leech off of my skin, leaving its jaws (and anticoagulant) in my leg.

We wanted to sit down and make a clean sweep, but there was no where safe to sit and remove our socks. Though less than a half kilometer from the waterfall, we had to turn and run back. As we kept up a retreat, Jess’ white socks became red. As she led the way, I watched a stain of blood emerge on her calf through her windpants.

As we passed other tourists, they were shocked by the amount of blood visible on us. We warned them about the leeches and resumed our escape. Jess was quite worried that she could be hosting "unseen" leeches. I was worried that she might.

Once back to the room, Jess saw that she was clear. We had stowaways in our shoes, but none found a bite. Then, for the sake of thoroughness, I checked myself.

This part of the story will not be described with the detail previously maintained. Have you seen the movie Stand By Me?

In case that allusion misses you, I’ll simply aver that not in the entire history of the English language has anyone ever used the epithet “bloody c**ksucker” more literally than I did that day.

A Outhavong

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