Road Trip Thailand 2009 Part 2
After looking at the map, we decided to head upriver to the famous “Bridge Over the River Kwai” where over one hundred thousand soldiers and Thai coolies died during WW II building this railroad bridge to Burma. First we went to the cemetery which was immaculately groomed and well kept about a half mile from the famous bridge.
There were lots of tourists there although that is not our scene. We shopped a little and then walked across the bridge which is somewhat dangerous as it is only for trains and it would be easy to fall through the holes to the river far below. I guess most of the people who worked and died on the bridge were from Holland and there seemed to be many blonde Dutch people around.
On the other side was a Thai violin player busking who we talked to as he had worked in Phuket at the Meridian hotel there. Then Simon fed another elephant (the 3rd on this trip already)
We continued north on a liesurly drive stopping to eat and rest following the river northward. Our destination for the day was Erawain National Park which boasts Thailand’s biggest waterfall. So, we got to the park where we got a campsite with a big tent that we rented for 130 baht after paying the 200 baht for me and 30 baht for Thum entrance fee to the park. Yes, farangs must pay almost 10 times more for park entry.
We bought food at the market outside the park ( a bit of a ripoff) and ate sitting around our campfire after dark. Camping by the river was nice with the moon about 2 days away from full.
Jan 09, 2009: In the morning, Simon and I got up early and built the fire back up to make hot water for coffee and had some doughnuts I had bought. After Mommy woke up, we got ready and put on our hiking clothes and headed up to the waterfalls. Many Farangs from Europe were wearing their skimpy thong bathing suits (men) only and that brought out a comment from Thum about strange behavior of Farangs. They should cover up a bit IMO.
The falls were beautiful and not too many people were there yet at that early hour. We walked up to 5 or 6 of the 7 different levels. There were many seemingly perfect swimming holes along the way and at most of the falls but it was too cold for us southern Thailand folk. Also, there were many big fish in the pools below each waterfall.
When we got back to the bottom, and our truck, Simon and Thum went to a restaurant and I headed to park HeadQuarters where I had noticed there was internet signal and did my work for the day.
We then tried to get some cold showers but did a half-assed job and headed north along the river to the big (biggest in Thailand) dam named after the King’s mother. We headed up to a small town called Si Sawat which our 15 year old Lonely Planet book said had many resorts along the lake. It was a long, winding drive and on the way, we saw a fire that seemed to be burning a bit out of control possibly from someone throwing a cigarette butt out the window. Since it was such a beautiful area, we stopped and attempted to put out the fire but to no avail. The wind was too strong and it kept getting bigger. Finally some people came along and said “Mai Belai” (Don’t worry, no problem) as they often burn the brush off this way, although this was the first we’d seen it this year. So, we ate a little and talked to some locals.
Finally we arrived at the small town of Si Sawat and found there were no rooms in the very small, remote town there so we looked at the map and headed north and northeast over a pass to the next province over.
This was a very long drive with nothing but jungle along the way and sometimes the road was washed out from landslides but left enough room for us to get through.
Finally after about 2 hours of this, we came to some settlements and asked about rooms. We had to drive another 30 minutes to a town called (Something) Phieu. We got a room for 400 baht a night with cable tv and aircon and headed out to a restaurant.
Jan 10, 2009 Walked around in the morning through this town after our first hot shower since 3 or 4 days ago. (nice) Couldn’t find any pla tong goh (doughnuts) and so, headed north without.
Drove most of the day through farmland mixed with eucalyptus and teak plantations. Most of the farmland was either sugar cane, rice or, what Thum calls MSG which is a 4 foot tall plant that looks like papaya and they seem to harvest to root which gets crushed and spread out on concrete to dry. Very white. We also saw many people making charcoal here in mud huts about 5 feet high. I think they make it from teak but am not sure about that.
One of the highlights of our day was stopping at a so-called “waterfall” where we tested out the fishing gear we bought. There were a bunch of kids swimming and drinking there and we went upstream from them and Simon had a good swim and I had a bite while showing him how to fish. When we left, after about 2 hours, the kids (about 13-15 years old) were really drunk now and trying to get on their motorbikes to drive home. They could barely stand up and it looked like big trouble. I think possibly they had never been drunk like this before and just kept drinking whiskey until they would smash the bottles. Very scary sight for us.
Continued into the evening when we came to a town called Hung Lan near Nakon Sawan. We were escorted to a resort where the owners were unbelievably friendly. They ended up giving us the 2 room suite that was really nice, complete with 200 channels on the satellite tv, and let me use their motorbike to go to the internet. All this for 300 baht (about $8.00)
Funny but most of the tv stations were Indian, Nepali, Cambodian, Chinese and Lao and of course Thai. No English speaking stations at all and no sports. We would’ve possibly stayed for the Eagles game as the people were so nice to us. In the morning, I went back to the internet place owned by a Thai guy named Sam who had spent time in California. He let me hook up my own computer to his network and I got a lot of work done.
Now, all pictures from this trip have been uploaded and can be seen online here.