Swimmin’ with the fishes
15.04.2011 27 °C
Our hostel is great: we have a bedroom and bathroom bungalow in a very green environment. We even have a table, two chairs and a rack to hang our clothes.
There are just two downsides: the toilet is the kind where you have to use water from a big bucket to get your ehm…. stuff, into the sewer. Ok, maybe I should explain something about the Thai toilets, since I also already mentioned the squatting toilets.
So far we’ve met both squatting and sitting toilets. Usually there’s an ass shower present (I know it’s called a bidet, but ass shower gets the meaning across so much better), 90% of the time you’re not supposed to throw the toilet paper (which is not present 80% of the time, so we lug our own around) in to the toilet, but into a trash basket next to it (and try not to look too much at where you are throwing). This is because the sewer system can’t handle the paper. If you do throw the toilet paper in the bowl and you’re unlucky a backflow occurs when you flush and whatever you put down there, comes back up to say hi. Most of the time, you can flush the toilets, sometimes what you do is get the small bowl or pan that is floating around in a big container of water, fill it with water and pour into the toilet. Repeat until the toilet is empty.
Now squatting toilets are not as gross as they sound. Granted, you have to make sure you don’t pee over your own feet, but for … other business, they’re surprisingly nice. The disadvantage of Thai toilets is really the ass shower, to which the multiple signs of ‘please keep floor dry’ are testament. Anyway, enough of the toilets and apologies for this… dirty subject.
So, two downsides: one is the toilet, the other is the fact that even though the sign on the restaurant door says they open at 7.00, you cannot actually order until close to 7.30, so we missed the first bus to Erawan National Park. And I didn’t have too much faith in making the second either, as our tuk-tuk driver knew a better place to drop us off than the busstation. In the end I was proven just another suspicious Westerner, because eventually the bus did pick us up and – after an hour and a half’s worth of almost bumping your head into the roof – dropped us off at the national park.
First course of action was finding a toilet and changing, because swimming at the waterfalls is a definite possibility here, although to be honest, I was quite sceptic about that. The waterfalls are actually the seven plateaus of one waterfall. Our aim for the day was to climb 500 meters all the way to plateau seven.
The first part was a piece of cake; there’s even a nice tarmac walking road. Plus, we are immediately treated to a lizard fight.
Plateau two was really busy; lots of Thai and tourists in the water. And we got nicely sweaty by this time as well (it really doesn’t take much in 90+% humidity), so – despite my earlier scepticism – taking a refreshing swim seemed like a good idea. Undressed and started out barefoot rock climbing (it’s a waterfall people, not a swimming pool) and almost gave up right away. The ‘pool’ was full of fishes, see? And they were decidedly not scared of people. In fact, they happily came over to nibble at whatever you decided to put into the water and trust me, it takes some time (and in my case a fall) to get used to that feeling.
Eventually, we made it in and had a nice and very refreshing (the water was downright cold) swim.
The following plateaus were all gorgeous and the monkeys we were being warned for everywhere (they are supposed to be rather aggressive and steal your stuff), didn’t bother us in the least. In fact we had a good time watching two moms with baby monkeys attached to their bellies. On our way up, we also met our Spanish and Columbian friends from last night. We didn’t talk much, but it’s still fun to walk into people you actually know.
We did make it all the way up in the end. Granted, we were sweating buckets, out of breath and I miss stepped somewhere so my right foot hurt like a bitch. But those are all passing things and they were all worth it. Although my foot is still not okay.
On the way back down we hung our feet in the water and got over our discomfort of the fishes nibbling on your toes.
Of course, we compiled a video of our adventure:
When we finally got back down, it was nearing three o’clock and we didn’t have lunch yet. Gege wanted to do the 1 km bird walk too, but lack of time and my stupid right foot made that impossible. So we took the last – very full – bus back to Kanchanaburi at 16 and spent the evening recovering in our room.