Chapter 4: The Floating Lodge

Barry and I stayed at the Sai Yok floating Jungle Lodge some 20 kilometres of dirt road away. Built on bamboo pontoons it was owned by Jacques Bes, an affable, adventurous Belgian, who previously had been involved in the Burmese teak trade. During the rainy season the place was only accessible by boat.

The Lodge was one of the most idyllic places I have ever had the good fortune to stay for extended periods of time. There was no electricity, light was provided by kerosene lanterns, and the only sounds at night were insects, barking deer and the soft susurration of the river passing through the bundles of bamboo keeping the seven, plank-connected rafts afloat.

Photo of one of the many lodges found along the Sai Yok River (Present time).

Photo of one of the many lodges found along the Sai Yok River (Present time).

 Far from any town or pollution, the stars sparkled above the black jungle with brilliance. During the day, this serenity was disturbed only by the occasional local long-tail boat plying the river to villages up or downstream.

 To illustrate the relative remoteness of our location, one day while walking through the jungle, I saw a fresh animal sign by the side of the trail, just across the river, and paused to examine it. I was perplexed by the fact that it had undigested porcupine quills in it so I wrapped it in a leaf and brought it to a trading post at the confluence of the Kwai Yi and Kwai Noi Rivers. “It’s a tiger turd.” I was informed.

Barry and I would wake up at 5:30 am, have breakfast and a bong, jump on my bike and ride about twenty kilometers of dirt road through the jungle, to the set every morning. It was a beautiful ride, and a good way to start the day.

 Normally uneventful, on one occasion a truck coming around a curve from the opposite direction, left me no time, or road, to maneuver, so without alternatives I plunged down a drainage ditch, up the other side, back down and successfully back on the road behind the truck in as much time as it takes to tell. Barry, still on he back, was a bit shaken and swears it was his Buddha that materialized us through the truck. Remember the bong.

 I kept returning to Jungle Lodge for years afterwards, introducing it to my visiting sister, my mother, friends and numerous others. Eventually tourism raised its ugly head and when groups of noisy eco-insensitive Thais began to frequent the area, Jacques sold the place and moved on.