Kanchanaburi - Part Two

Kanchanaburi Travel Blog

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The second tier of Erawan Falls

We decided to head to the Erawan Water Falls today and couldn't face the prospect of the local bus chugging along or being on some awful organised tour so we decided to hire a motorbike. Adam had to leave his passport as security for the bike which is always a bit worrying but it was only 200 baht for the day so we did it anyway. The bike was not the best we've had with no working speedo or fuel guage which makes it a bit of a lottery especially when we had 65km each way to the falls. We stopped just out of town to fill the bike up and thought that would probably be fine!!! The first part of the journey is on major roads and they were fine but as you get closer the surrounding countryside becomes more rural and the roads narrow. We have never seen so many butterflies which would normally be a great thing except that so many had suicidal tendancies and were using high speed impact with our faces as their chosen suicide method.

The second tier of Erawan Falls
You think a butterfly is mostly wings, we can assure you that at 80km an hour they sting the old forehead quite badly. 30 km later and about 200 butterflies down we arrived at the falls regretting our decision to come by bike. Suddenly the local bus looked like a luxury limousine!

The entrance to the falls has the usual racist asian entry fee policy. Free if you're Thai or your skin is brown and can pass as Thai or 200 baht each if your white or can't pass as Thai. Coming from the UK and Canada as we do it makes us so sick to see such overt racism especially as that kind of pricing policy would never be tolerated in most western countries. Can you imagine the Hockey Hall of Fame being free for Canadians or those with a skin tone or accent that can pass as Canadian but everyone else having to pay CAD$200.

A fall in between the 3rd and 4th tier at Erawan Falls
We can't see it happening.

We parked the bike in the car park and had a bit of an issue with the helmets, the luggage stow under the seat was just too small for them and we certainly didn't want to be climbing up waterfalls with our helmets on!! With a bit of a struggle and some forceful pressure we managed to close the seat and off we set towards the falls. There are seven major levels to the falls and each has pools with swimming opportunities. The falls really are quite spectacular and considering the fact that it's dry season we can only imagine how beautiful they must be after some rain. We decided that the best approach would be to hike up to the very top level 2km away and then have a swim in the pools on the way down. The climb up was fairly easy but we were both still drenched in sweat by the time we got to the top.

Adam looking curiously at all the limb-sucking fish in the Erawan Fall's pool
Getting in was a little tricky as the rocks were very slippery but once in it was so refreshing. The water was beautifully chilled and clear blue but every pool had fish of varying sizes who liked nothing better than a human leg or foot to nibble on. They didn't actually bite but sort of sucked at you which was a very disturbing sensation which some people probably really enjoyed. From the top pool we made our way back down dipping in a couple of others on the way it was lovely.

Back down at the car park we decided to get a late lunch and went to open the seat hatch but nothing happened the key turned but the seat wouldn't open! Our faces must have been a picture to anyone watching as we tried and tried without any success to extract our helmets from their prison.

The 7th tier pools of Erawan Falls
All we were thinking about was 65km of crazy bugs with no helmets!!! After about half an hour of trying with pulling tugging and using all our strength to try and force it we conceeded defeat and gave up. With no helmets on we gingerly set off for the market area to get a drink and contemplate what to do. As we pulled up to a shop we saw a tourist police booth and thought we'd see if they could assist with some tools, a crowbar or maybe just shoot the lock open!! The policeman gave it his best efforts but couldn't get it open and wouldn't use his gun so we sat down with a cold drink to contemplate our fate, kicking ourselves for cramming the helmets in!! Just as we did so a couple of local lads passed by and with no small amount of amusement they took the key and managed to open it practically first time.
Steph on the trek down Erawan National Park
No idea how but the relief on our faces was obvious as was the look of pity at the stupid westerners on theirs!!!

The ride back was actually much better the road was almost free of butterflies, we figure they'd all killed themselves by this time and those that were left seemed to have serious doubts about the whole thing and pretty much avoided us. We stopped on the way to check on the fuel and judged it to be enough so thought we'd save the money and not get any more!! We stopped briefly at the Bridge Over the River Kwai of the innacurate film fame but decided that we'd save a thorough tour until later so headed straight for our guesthouse. We were maybe 500m away when the bike spluttered and came to a slow halt. Out of fuel!!! Gutted! Luckily Steph and her amazing memory came to the rescue as she had remembered seeing a tiny hand written sign on our way to the falls in a shop a few hards away.

Our trouble-maker moped
Don't know how she managed that but we pushed the bike back and bought a litre of red liquid which we were assured was fuel and the bike came back to life!! What an experience and the regrets of earlier were totally erased at the memories of the day will be made even more special because of the trials and tribulations of the bike.

Seldom has a beer been so deserved as that first one back at the guesthouse. We'd just about taken a couple of huge gulps of nectar when a couple we'd seen at the falls came past, beer in hand obviously with the same idea as we'd had. Recognition followed and we joined up. They introduced themselves as Troy and Alyssa from Canada and we proceeded to have a really great evening swapping stories and chatting about pretty much everything under the sun.

The Bridge on the River Kwai
A few beers later and we headed off to a nearby Indian restaurant called Ali Bongos which was superb. We ordered four dishes and all dived in, the food was great and being full of beer is the only true way to appreciate Indian food to the fullest. (To Troy and Alyssa, thanks for a great evening, who knows our paths may yet cross again. Stay in touch).

The next day we had quite a lazy time and walked the couple of kilometres to the bridge which in reality was not where the worst of the wartime suffering occured. There were some incredibly disrespectful people around; particularly one girl in her late teens who had clearly failed to read the appropriate dress section in her travel guide but then; judging from her slutty attire and almost pornographic posing on the bridge there's every chance she can't read.

The River Kwai
She was clearly totally oblivious or utterly unmoved by the facts of the bridges construction!! Shame on you whoever you were.

 Other than the bridge trip we had quite a lazy day for which Kanchanaburi is perfect. It has such a sleepy quality we've really enjoyed. Oh well next stop back to Bangkok and take it from there!!

troywruck says:
We very much enjoyed your company on this evening Adam & Steph. It was every bit worth the ditching of our planned outing with the other British couple that we had met getting off the bus on our return from Erawan Falls. Although we must admit, standing people up for dinner is really not in our style. It was only slightly amusing that we bumped into the other couple in Chiang Mai only a few days later, making up a poor excuse. They were good natured about it, saying they ony waited about 20 minutes before ordering their meals. Nonetheless, we left them red-faced with embarassment... and "no", we did not make any pending plans to dine with them again. Still, sharing the evening with the two of you was the right thing to do as you made our vacation and experience in Kanchanaburi all the more pleasant and memorable. We, too, hope to cross paths with you again. Do stay in touch!

Troy & Alyssa
Posted on: Mar 24, 2008
Virginiagoodings says:
Ooooooh! I couldn't have handled the limb sucking fish or the butterfly suicides!!!
V/Mum xo
Posted on: Mar 10, 2008
sylviandavid says:
Great Blog! Very amusing and fun to read!
Posted on: Mar 06, 2008
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The second tier of Erawan Falls
The second tier of Erawan Falls
The second tier of Erawan Falls
The second tier of Erawan Falls
A fall in between the 3rd and 4th …
A fall in between the 3rd and 4th…
Adam looking curiously at all the …
Adam looking curiously at all the…
The 7th tier pools of Erawan Falls
The 7th tier pools of Erawan Falls
Steph on the trek down Erawan Nati…
Steph on the trek down Erawan Nat…
Our trouble-maker moped
Our trouble-maker moped
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The River Kwai
The River Kwai
A sign which appears along the tre…
A sign which appears along the tr…
Adam swimming in the 4th tier pool…
Adam swimming in the 4th tier poo…
A beautiful trickle between tiers …
A beautiful trickle between tiers…
photo by: wbboy29