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I've not been to Thailand for many years and was privileged to be heading to Phuket, Khao Sok National Park and the Khao Lak beaches in September this year.

Flying Thai Airlines, I was reminded that they're one of the few airlines that don't try to squash people in like sardines and there was definitely plenty of room for the short and the tall. It's pretty long haul going from Auckland to Bangkok and then onto Phuket in one go... but the next morning more than made up for the discomfort.

Stepping outside to be greeted with temperatures of 26 degrees at 7.30am, and with views out over the white sandy beach to a very inviting ocean - what a superb way to start my visit to Phuket! We had a very quick tour of Phuket but the true highlight was to come. Loads of people have been to Phuket but not so many have ventured out to the Khao Sok – the largest area of rainforest in Southern Thailand.

We headed to a place called Elephant Hills that's made up of 2 areas. The first is situated in the jungle of Khao Sok National Park and surrounded by one of the world’s oldest rain forests. They offer 35 luxury tents, all with the comforts of a hotel room but the bonus of the jungle choir performing day and night.

From the camp we took a canoe trip for a couple of hours, ending up at the Elephant Camp which was one of the major highlights. There are five elephants that have been rescued from hardship and are now being looked after here. These magnificent giants that were as gentle as babies as we watched them lark around in the water and then come out to be washed by our group. I must say that initially I wasn't very keen on getting too close but by the time we had finished, they were kneeling down in front of us to have their ears and faces washed. and just like children after a bath, it was then time for dinner and we were able to feed them too. I was amazed that they knew who had washed them and so expected you to be the one feeding them, and even got a bit pushy if you fed any other elephants!

What a great thrill this trip was!! I would recommend the whole experience to anyone wanting a bit of adventure in Thailand but with out the need for a lot of shopping...

Enjoy the 2nd part of Maree's Thailand experience here.

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