For our last full day in Kanchanaburi, we went on a journey that not only did we absolutely love, but made me proud of our willingness to step out of our comfort zones. We rented a motorbike, myself at the helm, Erin clinging on for dear life, and made a 65km ride toward Erawan National Park. Upon arrival, to say we were a bit sore from the sometimes bumpy ride and heavy water bottles would be an understatement. But Erin is a trooper and we were excited to see the Erawan Falls, regarded as the most beautiful falls in the Kanchanaburi Province, and possibly in all of Thailand depending on whom you ask.
The falls have seven different tiers and we were determined to climb to the top. The first level was very beautiful and it just got better the higher we climbed. The trail was fairly simple all the way to about level 5, including paved paths and stairs (402, Erin counted). After this point, however, the journey truly became a hike. The higher we went, the fewer fellow tourists we saw. We climbed over large rocks, under low hanging trees, higher and higher. Upon reaching level 6, we thought we may have reached the end, but, after walking through one of the pools, saw what appeared to be a trail and continued on, strategically maneuvering our way through the rocky jungle, all the while keeping an eye out for the infamous King Cobra (no sightings, something we were happy with). We finally reached the 7th level; a 2200 meter climb from the bottom. I’ll give you a minute to do the conversion. (1.3 miles – I got your back).
Looking from the 7th level up to the very top, the origin of the whole series of falls, truly gave meaning to the expression ‘took my breath away.’ If ever there was a time when we were both speechless, this was it. All either of us could muster was a humble “wow.” The pictures we took do it no justice, but I hope you’ll enjoy them all the same. We spent some time swimming in the pools, cooling off under the chilly waterfall and just marveling at the beauty. Something funny is that all of the pools have small fish living in them that absolutely love eating the dead skin off of feet. It is not harmful, but its a very odd feeling all the same. Eventually, we had to leave this paradise and slowly worked our way back down, stopping at each level and exploring the pools, swimming again here and there.
It was time to start heading back, so after a short rest and last admiring look at the first tier, we walked back to the bike. Empty water bottles and wet towels for extra cushion, my much-more-comfortable passenger and myself climbed on and started our 65km journey back to Kanchanaburi. The ride was very pleasant and felt as though it was going faster than before. I even elicited an exited “Woooo!” from Erin at one point on a slightly downhill straightaway (topped out at around 90 km/hr there – but don’t tell Anna).
We were greatly enjoying ourselves but not everything can be perfect – upon rounding a corner we spotted quite a large section of black sky settled directly ahead of us. About 25km away from home, the sky opened up and just dumped rain on us. With poor visibility, possibly slick roads, and surprisingly annoying stinging rain, we pull over at a restaurant for some shelter. After about 15-20 minutes, we lied to ourselves that it had lightened up, re-adjusted some of our gear, and set back off on our increasingly memorable journey. We shared our body heat and did the best we could to maintain a safe speed that also wouldn’t take forever. Another 15 minutes or so passed before the rain really lessened, and shortly thereafter we reached the city limits. At this point we were free to enjoy watching other bikers ride while holding umbrellas and any other interesting sights (my favorite was a recurring highway caution sign – for elephant crossing). We even “did as the locals do” by completely bypassing a long line of car traffic waiting at an intersection (bikes are awesome).
We returned the bike to the nice lady holding my passport (who simply laughed at us on account of how soaked we were) and headed back to our guesthouse to take the first-needed hot shower of the trip. Up until this point we had no idea why anyone would want/need a hot shower in this tropical climate – it’s good to learn something new everyday! We both agreed that this day had easily been our best, most fun day of the trip thus far.
Editor’s note: We apologize for how long it has taken us to post something new. We are currently on an island called Koh Tao and have limited access to internet. We will fill you in on our time here when we can, but for the sake of a teaser, I will tell you that this island is the Scuba Dive capital of the planet. Stay tuned…..