The journeys you make in Southeast Asia colour your memories almost as much as the destinations themselves. From beach to town in Phuket I was wedged in the back of a truck between a stack of ‘Abercromdie’ jumpers and a mesh crate of geese. From Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani down south, I took a night train. The truck wins hands downAn entire carriage of bed bug-riddled bunks and prison cell toilet could have been written off as unremarkable were it not for snacks lady…

Snacks lady was a 70-something glary-eyed hawker with a crackle voice and a thick set grimace of determination. Like a Thai Angelica Huston. She swept down the train every half an hour the night through, proffering the same non-descript meat on a stick that had screamed ‘toilet issues’ when offered up at six in the evening. There are few things more terrifying than waking at three in the morning, eye mask held taut two inches from face, with Angelica Huston beading back at you, insistently brandishing beef skewers like fire irons and crowing ‘want some SNAAAACKS?’

Sometimes, at night, I still hear her.

However, the train had its plus points. Going to sleep to Bangkok city lights and waking to the sight of yellow-green jungle hurling itself past the window screws with your eyes in the best possible way.

Khao Sok National Park - Apiguide/Shutterstock

Khao Sok National Park – Apiguide/Shutterstock

Khao Sok itself, an hour’s longboat ride from Surat Thani, is a lesser visited Halong Bay. The jagged limestone islands are scattered like chess pieces across an emerald board, and through the trees you can see gibbons jabbering away to each other. The floating bungalows dotted about are lit by a generator that cuts out at 10.00pm, which means blind hide and seek, and drinking are the key components to a good evening, and the ten minute night walk across bamboo rafts to reach the loo holds an unforeseen element of excitement. The whole place is actually a giant reservoir, created in the 80s so South Thailand may never again be thirsty. I don’t know how the former residents felt when the government flooded the area – I seem to remember when it happened in The Vicar of Dibley they were all quite distressed about it – but from a selfish tourist perspective, it was beyond pretty.

Pretty but deadly. Nothing wrong with gliding through man-made paradise in a kayak pretending you’re Pocahontas, nothing at all. But should you visit and find yourself doing the same, watch out for that under current. It pulls you far. Probably best to make your way back to base before you hit the Colours of the Wind bridge in fact. Your arms tire quickly, you inevitably have to be saved and towed to the dock by a brave, benevolent yet frustrated bungalow supervisor, and I think the key change scared the gibbons away…