Whispering tales of Magic

Erawan Falls

THAILAND | Monday, 14 November 2011 | Views [658]

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The classic postcard/brochure image of Thailand is green lush forests, opening out into crystal clear lagoons, fed by cascading waterfalls. So far this trip we have mostly seen an urban concrete jungle, interspersed with a few golden temples, but today we finally got to see what all the fuss was about.

Wearing our swimming cossies and loaded up with suntan lotion and mosquito spray we headed to Erawan National Park. The drive was up mountain roads not dissimilar to the Alps, there were mountain ranges in the distance and sheer drops down one side of the road, but no snow!

First job when we arrived was to purchase lunch. Thai people don’t do sandwiches. So, again, trying to forget all food safety I ordered a stir fry noodles which was cooked, put in a plastic takeaway tub and wrapped up for later, ermm, still not convinced, but it’s not killed me yet.

The walk to the waterfalls was very civilised, concrete footpaths, signposts in English and Thai, handrails up the steps and a steady stream of people in both directions. Then we turned a corner and our first view of the water put everything else to shame.

It really was blue. It really was clear enough to see the bottom (not like canal water!) and it really was warm enough to swim in.

To help prevent litter, you had to hand in all your food at a security hut and you were allocated a number which was written on your water bottle, and you used as security to get your food back. It seemed a bit excessive but the lack of litter was obvious so it must have worked.

We walked up to the third level waterfall to go swimming and were all very excited, until we saw the fish. The latest trend back home is for fish pedicures, the cute little fish are about 1 inch long and suck the dead skin from your feet, and this is all done in a foot bath with enough water to cover your ankles, but no more. The fish in the pond measured up to about a foot long, latched on and nibbled, and the water went over my head, so they were not limited to nibbling your feet. The trick we discovered is to find a vacant rock, swim over to it, sit on it with just your feet in the water and if the water is shallow enough the big fish don’t like it, or, just keep moving, the fish didn’t like the moving water much. I know I am ticklish, but until the fish started nipping, I hadn’t realised how ticklish. Between the six girls there was much squealing, laughing and general hilarity, while the boys looked on in bemusement.

After a while it was time to head back to the checkpoint and have lunch. We had been warned that there were monkeys in the trees and they steal your food, and if they want it, let them have it or they get nasty, some kind of monkey gang warfare, so we cautiously opened our various stir fries and started eating quickly while there was no sign of the monkey mafia. I think we were all a little disappointed that the monkeys never turned up, but also relieved that we were able to eat lunch in peace.

After lunch we had a couple of hours to explore some more so headed up to the higher levels of water fall. I think if Disney had tried to design a water park it could not have come up with a better one than this, which had occurred naturally. Each level of waterfall offered something different, level four had a natural water slide and level five had rock pools for paddling. The walk to the different levels was less structured than before, muddy in places and gentle climbing over rocks and exposed tree trunks, some steep climbs up and rambles through trees. All in all a very relaxing and chilled out day.

We have not had a moment spare and today is no exception. On the way back from the waterfall we stopped and picked up canoes and paddled back to town! We were going downstream, so not too strenuous, it was more about keeping out of the bushes.

That evening we went to Kanchanaburi town for dinner, we ate at a place called the Jolly frog. Much to everyone’s delight they served pizza and burgers! Everyone was quite adventurous eaters, and willing to try anything new on offer, but after five days of rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the novelty was wearing off.

Then we hit the town! The main street in Kanchanaburi is full of drinking establishments, a bit like Cleethorpes high street. We started at the 10 Baht bar, every shot only 10 Baht (about 20p) and tried the local moonshine. When drinks are so cheap you cannot expect all the fancy trimmings like chairs, tables and a roof. The table was a rough plank of wood balanced on two trestles, the chairs were industrial size empty paint tubs, the bar was a kiosk on the corner of the street and like all good Thai establishments we were taking over the pavement.

After warming up with some cheap shots we headed to a bar called Happy Buddha, this was a chilled out bar, where lounging is the order of the day. Anyone who knows me knows I do not smoke, so when a big pipe was bought out to share I was not sure what to do. After much persuasion and assurance that it was not tobacco, or nicotine and I should not get addicted I tried it. The smoke tasted of apples and did not make me cough or choke. After a few tries I was blowing smoke out through my nose, making smoke rings and puffing away like the best of them.

We decided to move on and try another place, but the boys were happy where they were, so we headed off down the street to see what other delights were available. We walked all the way down the street, looking in every bar, all being very indecisive and unable to make a definite choice, so we turned about and headed back and plumped for the bar with a pool table.

This was called Easy Bar, and was our first encounter with lady boys. As realisation dawned on us, we found it hard not to keep staring. Some of the boys were easier to spot than others, the giveaway clues are the size of hands and feet and Adams apple, and in some cases the walk, because as beautiful as they looked, with miniskirts and legs to kill for, they still walked like men, it was weird to see. But, they were very friendly, made us feel very welcome and provided us with a selection of games like connect four and shut the box.

None of us had played shut the box before, except for Sarah, it is a dice game, using a small amount of skill and tactics and a lot of luck. As the game went on and we got the hang of it, it got louder and louder, with much laughing and shouted encouragement, until two fellas, sat at the table next to ours came over and asked if they could join us. Being the friendly folk we are we agreed and asked if they wanted to play, to which they agreed. One of them recognised the game, but when it was his turn he started introducing rules that Sarah was not aware of and were slightly different to how we had been playing it. After a heated argument about who was right and who was wrong, the poor guy was shouted down by five females who argued that was it was our game and therefore he must play by our rules, even if he thinks they are wrong, and anyway, he had asked to join us, not the other way round. After this they made polite small talk for a few more minutes, made their excuses and left us to the game. Moral of the story, don’t mess with a gang of half drunken females on a night out!

Headed home to back a small overnight bag, because tomorrow we are on a raft house- what ever that is!

 

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