This morning, I inspect the door of our rented camo tent for the final time, scanning for any awful bloodthirsty creatures that might be lying in wait. Deeming the exit safe, I jump out of our musty accommodations and immediately begin a check to ensure that I have not become breakfast-lunch-and-dinner for some evil parasite in the night.
Upon seeing this neurotic production, Tyler kindly offers to break camp for me. He is content to flick off all the quivering, slimy hangers-on as he goes, without my help. Thankful, I grab my bike and high-tail it to the safety of concrete. Good bye and good riddance, Khao Yai blood suckers!
While Tyler packs our tent, I walk over to one of the park's few food shops. After perusing the sole aisle of crappy pre-packaged food, I decide I can't stomach actually buying anything; the prices are outrageous. Khao Yai National Park has enough of our money. In silent protest, I walk back empty handed. Energy shouldn't be an issue today, since we'll be descending all morning!
Overjoyed to be leaving, we're ready to reap the rewards of our climbing labor. It is time enjoy one of the best parts of cycling: coasting down a mountain! As we cruise out of the jungle, the skies above are swollen and dark as bruises, ready to unleash. We've just hit the road when the aerial assault begins.
Unlike last time, this dousing is most welcome. In moments, we're soaked through, literally unable to get any wetter. We couldn't be more saturated with water if we jumped in a pool, or rode right through a car wash. We stop, not to run for cover, but to protect our camera case with one of our rain jackets.
As we descend, we receive many smiles and waves from passing onlookers. We're making good speed, indeed, so much so that we're traveling at nearly the same pace as some of the safari trucks overtaking us! As the tourists riding in these vehicles get a good look, I wonder what it is that they see from their dry little seats?
Are we two crazy people careening down a mountain on really heavy-looking bicycles to them? Two people having a great time? Two pitiful fools, in over their heads, on a miserable ride? I don't know, but here's what I feel:
Radiant happiness about leaving this place, an exhilarating thrill from the speed of coasting downwards, an ache in my fingers from gripping tightly to my brakes, and a sort of reckless pleasure about the fact that I can hardly see through the thick wall of raindrops pounding into my face.
As soon as we reach level ground, the rain stops, and the sun pokes out and beams proudly. Almost as fast as we were soaked, the sun and breeze dry us, making for some natural air-conditioning. Then, feeling the need to rest after a distinctly un-restful trip into the jungle, Tyler searches for a nearby hotel on our GPS, finds one, and guides us directly to it.
We arrive at a shady, palm-tree filled garden-enclosed guest-house. It is quiet and inexpensive, just the right place to spend a few days. Best of all? There are no leeches. Wheeling our fully-loaded bikes onto our private patio overlooking palm trees, we watch as the rain gathers once more.
Cool and dry under our breezy shelter, very relieved to be here, we smile as the second round of rain comes sheeting down.
A quick trip to the market, and we're set for a wonderful evening: iced coffees, spicy red curry, fried chicken and chili sauce, a few beers, a journal or two, and a Mythbusters marathon. God, I love it when it's easy.