After a nice rest day at the Jolly Frog, I set off on a day trip to explore Erawan National Park. For the first time, I somewhat enjoyed riding the bike. Finally out in country side and away from the mega highways and trucking routes, I was able to finally get the feel for the bike while my rear end got the feel for a rock hard seat. Granted, I still hadn't mastered first gear, so I was stalling the bike at practically every traffic light or gasoline stop. That got a little embarrassing seeing as my bike was admired by every gas station attendant and passer by. Apparently my bike, which retails in the U.S. for just under $5,000, was miles nicer than anyone's there. While a huge percentage of people in Thailand ride bikes, very few of them are larger than a scooter or 150cc's, so my 250cc full-size bike definitely stood out.
Back to the national park... I had been warned that in order to beat the tourists I would need to go early. Thanks to my disrupted sleep schedule, I was wide awake at 5 AM and cruised on up just before the park opened.
I stopped for a quick bite to eat before the park, where the lady at the food cart kept asked me if I wanted this and that. Seeing as how I had no idea what she was going on about, I just nodded my head in agreement and kept saying yes. I ended up with the items pictured below. The chicken was impeccable- seriously one of the best pieces of chicken I have ever had. The bamboo salad (what I assume it was) on the other hand left something to be desired, to say the least.
Once in the park, I parked the bike and started the hike up to Erawan Falls. Erawan Falls is made up of seven tiers of waterfalls over a stretch of 2-3 kilometers. Despite getting there incredibly early, the first waterfall was already packed with tourists by the time I arrived.
Despite my affection for taking pictures of awkwardly out of place tourists, I decided that if I wanted any half decent pictures of the final water fall I would have to get there first. I proceeded to run/jog the entirety of the hike skipping all of the waterfalls in between and passing as many people as possible on the "technical sections" of the trail.
After stopping for a sweaty self portrait and a couple random photos, my run was a success and I was one of the first people to arrive at the top.
The seventh tier of the Erawan Falls, and the only two people who had beaten me there...
I spent the next half hour lounging around in the pools as fish nibbled on my feet, which took some time getting used to. I took my time on the way down taking pictures of all the tiers I had skipped on the way up.
After the falls, I found myself with some extra time before I needed to leave (in order to get back to before dark) so I decided to go check out a cave I had heard about a few miles away. Having the bike for this part was awesome. Unlike the waterfalls, the cave was not on the normal tourist track and the road was more of a dirt drainage ditch than a road. After a little exploring (sometimes referred to as getting lost) I found the cave entrance and felt as if I was the only person for miles. I hiked up what seemed like an endless staircase, pouring sweat the entire way, and all the while having no idea of where on earth I was going. Finally, I reached the cave entrance.
Upon arriving at the cave entrance I awoke a small Thai man who was sleeping in a hammock. Apparently, he was to be my tour guide. All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of the Thai jungle on a private tour of this immense and impressive cave. Crazy, right?
My tour guide didn't speak a lick of English but we still manged to communicate as he pointed out the animal shaped formations and the endless sea of bats. My guide even stopped to take pictures of me in front of every "animal." The cave was massive, something like a football field long and half as high.
After the cave, I made my way back to the Jolly Frog for some dinner and a few terrible beers.
This was my last day in Kanchanaburi and my best day yet. Tomorrow I would be setting off on the long trip south.
A collection of stories and adventures from the FAMS director and instructors.