Climbing an Exotic "Tree" in the Thai National Forest
From "Diary from Asia" Monday, November 27, 2006
Photos courtesy of Sandra Stirnweis, COMS

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While in the Thai National Forest, we saw a "tree" that grows from the top down. Its seeds catch in the top of a tree and it drops its roots down, which grow and widen until they surround the host tree, which then dies and leaves a large hollow at the base.

Climbing this "tree" was exhilarating and a little scary. There weren't many "branches" and you kind of pushed yourself up between vines or trunks. It was a lot like trying to work your way up a pile of tiddly-winks, with random openings between the sticks.

[below] I wanted to climb through to the hollow inside, but the "branches" were close enough that I could get myself stuck. I found an opening I thought looked big enough and put my legs and part of my hips through it and sure enough, I got stuck! The opening was narrow at the bottom where the "sticks" crossed, so I lifted myself up while my legs dangled inside until finally there seemed to be enough room to lower myself again, and BOOM! I was inside!

[below] Stephan was unable to find an opening big enough to go through,
but he got a lot higher than I did before he had to come down.

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