Never have I ever…

1) been camping 2) woken up for a sunrise 3) been inside a bat cave or 4) help put out a wildfire. To do all of those things (and be woken up by roosters at 4:00am), one must only travel to Phu Pha Maan National Park. The park was about a 2-hour drive from Khon Kaen. Our first stop was the bat cave, located at the end of a 1/4 mile long trail. We scrambled up some rocks to be greeted by the smell of bat pee, bat s***, and the great outdoors. While initially the odor made me cringe, the view and the cave itself was a worthwhile sight. Wander deep enough into the cave and there’s a point where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. The sun set around 6:10pm and just like clockwork the bats began to emerge (amazing how their circadian rhythm knows when dusk falls). They came out slowly at first, a few here and there, and then all of a sudden millions of bats streamed out of the cave. And while I did get peed on a little, it was truly a sight to behold. At 9:00 pm we all gathered around a bonfire while a few students (and even our professor) played the guitar. We sang everything from Justin Bieber to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. On the mountainside we could see a couple of wildfires burning since right now is the dry season. For accommodations we had the choice between a house, bungalow, or tent. I wanted the full camping experience, so I chose the tent! Good thing I packed a sweatshirt and hoodie because it got a little bit chilly that night. In the morning I woke up at 6:20 am to watch the sunrise. After breakfast, we went on a 1.5 hour nature hike and the ranger had us put out some remnants of the wildfire from the night before along the trail. The greenery and the mountains, though different in form, reminded me a little bit of home.

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