After school had eventually ended, the following weeks before our flight home in mid-April were dedicated to the exploration of Thailand.
First stop: Kanchanburi province to see the glorious Erawan National Park!
Matt, Paul, and I ventured early from our apartment in Chonburi to Bangkok via a couple of minivans, one of which held and later kicked out a belligerent old man with an orange cat on a string. That provided us with a bit of entertainment, that was for sure.
In Bangkok, we took yet another minivan to Kanchanaburi, where we then squeezed into a tuk-tuk and sped and weaved our way to our motel. After arriving at the Jolly Frog, we noticed that there were two twin-sized beds, a fan, a dresser, and a bathroom. It was extremely dingy and toasty (a fan doesn’t do anything to soothe you in the Thailand heat!), but we decided it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we stayed there.
We waltzed around the streets for a bit and saw numerous inviting bars, a 7-11 (of course. No Thai town/city is complete without a 7-11), and a few small shops. Then, we headed back to eat some dinner at our motel, which also had a restaurant attached, and that turned out to be phenomenal! They had Thai food, American food, and, surprisingly, Mexican food! And they did an awesome job with it all.
We then headed out to one of the bars later on in the evening to drink and hang out before hiking in the national park the next day. Matt unfortunately didn’t drink because he was feeling a little sick and didn’t want his cold to get any worse because who wants to hike in Thailand heat and humidity with a fever?
Eventually, we headed back to the room to catch some sleep. Paul knocked out immediately, but Matt and I couldn’t sleep whatsoever. It was stiflingly hot, almost suffocating, and Matt was feeling worse than he was earlier. So, at around one a.m., we decided to go searching for another hotel that had air conditioning. We fortunately did, then went back to our room at the Jolly Frog’s, exhaustively gathered our stuff, scribbled a note for Paul, then went to our new hotel and slept like we had never slept before.
Eventually, we rolled out of bed and, although Matt was still feeling sick, he decided that it was worth it to go to Erawan nevertheless. So, we slapped on some light clothes, sneakers, and a backpack, and headed to Jolly Frog’s to find Paul, grab some breakfast, and ride a song tao for an hour to the mountain.
Having a work visa, by the way, has some wonderful benefits! Upon arrival at the gate about an hour later, we had to pay 600 baht each, which is about twenty dollars. However, with our visas, we only had to pay 300 baht altogether. Pretty sweet deal!
Anyway, we started to hike up the mountain and marveled at the beauty of the multiple and individually awing tiers of Erawan falls.
During our hike up the mountain, we noticed that several tree trunks were heavily decorated in formal Thai clothes! It was a very interesting sight and, don’t quote me on this because this is kindof hearsay, they supposedly were tied there to religiously honor the park and nature overall.
I have to say that, as typical as it may sound, the final tier of the falls was my favorite. You could look up and see a far above cliff, heavily grooved from years of erosion from the waterfalls, and past it, the blaring sun and clear blue sky.
Paul and I went swimming in the final tier, which was such an amazing swimming experience. The water was freezing, which was completely different from the gulf of Thailand we had swam in before, but it was perfect, since we were so hot. It was a very light blue color, holding white-colored rocks throughout. Within the water, fish swam peacefully, but they actually gnawed on your body to “manga” on your dead skin! It was a strange sensation, feeling tiny fish lips sucking on my skin, but it wasn’t all that horrible. It was honestly more startling than anything, since you don’t usually expect a fish to nibble you and help you in a way!
It was wonderful relaxing there, floating and admiring the natural beauty all around me. I soaked it in as fish pricked my skin while I did so. Eventually, we got out and headed back down the trail and I said goodbye to one of the most beautiful parks I’d ever witnessed.