Warning: Waran!!

On another hot sunny day in southern Thailand we decided to walk on up the road to Khao Lak National Park. It’s a small park (parklet?), on the coast.

Khao Lak, Thailand
Khao Lak, Thailand

It’s the typical jungly sort of place, with hanging vines and strange flowers. DS1_2058

Khao Lak National Park

Khao Lak National Park

We had the park to ourselves as everyone else was sensibly back in air conditioned rooms or by the pool or beach. I found a spot on the rocks to take in the scenery.


Uwe was happy trying to capture a shot of the crabs scuttling along; I gazed off across the Andaman Sea.


A form out in the water came into focus. Something about it was off. The proportions were all wrong. And the size. And the shape; everything about it was odd.


“Uwe, what’s that? Do you see it?” I asked. By now I was standing with one hand shading my eyes, trying to identify what was in the water and heading our way. And then I did.

Look! It's a fish! No, it's an alligator! No, it's a... swimming giant lizard?!?!
Look! It’s a fish! No, it’s an alligator! No, it’s a… swimming giant lizard?!?!

My next comment was a loud “Holy s=&%!!!” and I backed up as the largest lizard I’ve ever seen emerged from the ocean and climbed up onto the same set of rocks, not three feet away.


The thing was bigger than I am. And definitely more threatening – long curved claws, wicked powerful legs, and jaws that just went on stretching, showing way too many teeth.

Monitor Lizard, a.k.a. Waran, a.k.a. Stepchild of Godzilla...
Monitor Lizard, a.k.a. Waran, a.k.a. Stepchild of Godzilla…

I started moving away as I wondered with some part of my brain (the reptilian stem, no doubt!) if we could outrun the waran (probably not) or survive an attack (unlikely). But the… thing…. lumbered off in the opposite direction across the rocks. Thank goodness! I thought.


Where I saw a painful death from crushing jaws, Uwe looked through his lens at the photographer’s opportunity of a lifetime. My husband chased it. “Uh, honey, don’t you think maybe it’ll get aggressive if you get too close?” I nervously suggested. Not only I was going to have to bag his messy remains in about 5 minutes, but I’d need to fight the critter for the camera, just to have proof that I hadn’t lured Uwe into the park to murder him.


He ignored me and kept pace with the lizard across the rocks.


Later he explained, “I wanted just one good shot of it flicking its tongue out! I didn’t get that close, really.” Silly me. So what if a prehistoric stepchild of Godzilla might be dangerous?

We’re still marveling at the close encounter, and weren’t surprised to learn that only the Komodo dragon is larger than the monitor lizard, or waran. The water monitor we saw was an easy 6 feet long.

These clever reptiles not only are strong swimmers: they climb trees to raid birds’ nests, too. Hey, you know what? The next time we go to Khao Lak, I think I might just hang out at the pool.

(All photogaphs can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image.)

More pictures from our trips to Thailand, and of Uweโ€™s photography, may be viewed at viewpics.de.

24 thoughts on “Warning: Waran!!”

  1. I’ve been fascinated by Komodo dragons for a long time so was very interested in your water monitor experience. I just looked them up and apparently they are very intelligent and can even count!

    1. Hi Malcolm, when I read that the waran climbs trees to raid nests, the tall thick tree canopy in the park suddenly took on an ominous air. It was a shock to gaze out into the water and see it swim our way. I can’t imagine what I’d feel if I’d looked overhead while on the trail and seen one waiting in the branches… Thanks for commenting, I too am fascinated by these animals. —Jadi

  2. A few months ago, I read a post from another lovely soul about this ‘Waran’ creature during her field trip but she couldn’t post any photo because she was too afraid to get close to it.

    Now I get to see it in this post of yours and thank you very much for sharing!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Have a great day ahead, always~ Cheers!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Everyone likes the photos Uwe took of the waran, but I side with the woman who didn’t take any pictures as she was afraid to get too close… I felt like I was on the set for a baby Godzilla film. What a great experience (from a distance!) Glad you liked the post and thanks for the sweet comment. —Jadi

  3. Exciting photos! That lizard scared me in the photo, so I don’t think I’d get as close as you did. A surprise to see it swimming, too. Oh, and thank you for stopping by my blog.

    1. Hi Mary, the waran got close to me, not the other way around.. and seeing it swimming towards us was one strange disconnect (A giant lizard, swimming in the ocean? Huh?!) Thanks for stopping by. —Jadi

  4. Amazing story and pics, Jadi…what an experience – quite surreal !
    I’ve come searching for you, as I wondered why I wasn’t getting any posts from you…thought I was following, but something hadn’t clicked!

    1. Hi Valerie, I was away from my laptop for a few days and am now seeing your message. It was indeed surreal in a this-is-so-bizarre-it-can’t-be-happening sort of way. The waran however was ALL too real! I’m so glad you’re following my blog as I always look forward to your posts too. All best wishes, Jadi

    1. Joe, Thanks so much for the nomination. Getting a nod from a blogger one admires is a huge compliment. I will be exploring the other blogs you’ve listed; I have the feeling I am in good company indeed. —Jadi

  5. I never knew Uwe was such a talented photographer! What a perfect compliment to your writing. And, I too, would have followed the monitor for a better and that oh so exclusive pic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Terry! It all happened so fast. Uwe didn’t get the ‘perfect’ photo he wanted but on the other hand he still has all his fingers and toes… thanks for the nice comment, too. I integrate his pictures into my blog as often as I can. I’ll have to send you and Uwe and all the other crazy people who’d chase that lizard out on a photo safari together someday. —Jadi

    1. It’s funny now, but at the time all I could do was imagine the headlines that evening: “Dumb tourist couple swallowed by giant lizard”… —Jadi

  6. That is such a cool story, Jadi!! ๐Ÿ™‚ What a great adventure!
    (And I admit, I would have gone after it, like Uwe.)

    1. Hi Pia, How super to have you here as the very first commenter! I’m not sure what shocked me more, the critter or the way Uwe chased after it (he always seemed so sensible…) Glad to hear you support him in the quest for the perfect photograph though – he’ll be pleased to know that! —Jadi

        1. Hi Larry! Since you know me you can picture the expression on my face when the waran swam to me and then climbed up towards me. One of the greatest Nature experiences I’ll ever have (and just about as close as I want to get!) —Jadi

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