by Hal Wershow
The dinner menu for the Khao Sok Jungle Survival trek is an eye-opening introduction to just how much food the jungle can provide. While hiking earlier in the day, we had stuffed two plastic bags full of leaves, some for spicing, others for eating.
We had brought uncooked rice with us, to be cooked jungle style (taking a length of bamboo and stuffing rice wrapped in banana leaves into the hollow, filling with water, and leaning the bamboo over the fire). But leaves and rice do not quite satisfy the ravenous appetite that jungle trekking inspires…
First we tried fishing. Tuk, our most excellent guide and chef, cut us bamboo poles and set us up above a good fishing hole in the Sok River. We succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. We actually caught three fish that made it into the frying pan!
In need of more meat, Tuk signalled me to follow him. We grabbed headlamps (it was now dark), forded the river, headed up the tributary Band Jend River, and began to hunt for frogs. Tuk would see the shining eyes, move directly towards it in a smooth controlled manner, quickly grab the frog, and toss it into the bag I was carrying. Such teamwork!
I have spent a lot of time in wild, natural areas. Some feel very good at night; others feel terrifying. The Khao Sok rain forest feels good; not to say that you won’t have a few leeches, but it feels welcoming. We approached with reverent curiosity, and the rain forest reciprocated by sharing its magic. By which I mean to say, splashing up a small river in the pitch dark of the jungle night while hunting frogs felt just fine.