Ahhh..... Finally, we made it up to Thailand and out of the stupid cities. Kanchaniburi is a very small city with a large tourism industry because of its situation on the banks of the River Kwai and its proximity to a certain infamous Bridge over said river. Of course, most of you know I'm not a big war-history nut. No, we're in K-buri because we heard from some travellers we met in Melaka that there is a huge, beautiful 7-tiered waterfall that you can swim in every tier of. With wild versions of those fish I wrote about earlier that eat your dead skin.
Jon and I took a trishaw from the bus station to a hostel we found in our trusy Loney Planet travel guide. A trishaw is a bicycle with a bench in the back, decorated quite colorfully. It was misting when we got there, and we felt so bad for the man who pedalled us and our 2 heavy backpacks those 5K that we tipped him the same amount as our fare was. Before you judge me for making this man pedal us for our own enjoyment, we were hassled right off the bus by a million trishaw people.
We got a room on a floating part of the guesthouse...basically a floating trailer partitioned into little rooms. It was beautiful...we could see down the river and the limestone mountains behind, jutting up into the mist. That night, we walked down the river and found floating restaurants that loaded up with people, then got towed across the river to float on the other side. Of course, we couldn't figure out how to get on them, so we just ate ice cream sundaes at a place we found on dry land.
The next day, we headed to the waterfalls. We had decided that it would be best to rent motorbikes from one of the myriad of places renting them along the street lined with guesthouses, since the local bus dropped you off a few kilometers from the park entrance and wasn't a whole lot cheaper, anyway. The motorbikes were a lot of fun. I was scared at first (the people renting them were a little nervous about me driving one and made me practice down a side street) but I quickly got the hang of it, and remembered to drive on the left side of the road (Southeast Asian traffic drives on the left).
We then proceeded to drive 60K down a nicely paved and mostly empty road through the countryside, across rivers and into the mountains. On the way, we passed farms, little wooden houses, herds of skinny tan cows walking down the side of the road (and sometimes laying in it) followed by men carrying slingshots, water buffalo wallowing in the mud, and a few signs that warned of elephant crossings but no elephants.
Then we got to the waterfalls. They are in a national park, up a short trail from the parking lot. It''s really a river with a bunch of waterfalls, big and small, wide and narrow, so it's full of a million pools to swim in. The water was a clear light blue, and you could easily see the schools of fish swimming around. And there were some good-sized fish in them.
We had brought sandwiches from a place in town, and I especially was excited to eat them because I had tuna on whole wheat bread. I hadn''t really had whole-wheat bread since I left home, besides a loaf or two from Costco in Korea that wasn't quite great. I was so eager to swim, though, that I only ate half of one, then left my things and went into the water, perilously ignoring the "Beware of Monkeys" and "Don't let monkey steal your belonging" signs. Well, as soon as we had been in the water for 5 minutes, a monkey decended from a tree, took one look at my bag of sandwiches, grabbed it and climbed up a tree. Oops. It ate almost all of the sandwich, dropping a few pieces and then the styrofoam container. At least I could pick up the garbage, since I felt bad for potentially polluting that lovely park. Later, another monkey came and ate the dropped pieces in plain view, and I got some cool pictures of a monkey eating my lunch. That and the story make up for the loss of food, and from then on we were careful with our things, tying them to roots and securing the bags, but the monkeys were only interested when they could smell food nearby.
The waterfalls were amazing. They weren't too crowded, mostly Thai families. The little fish would nibble on your feet, and the big fish weren't really too bothered by our presence...Jon was able to touch some by swimming up to them. We could go behind the waterfalls into little caves, and jump off rocks into the crystal clear water.
At about 3:30, we headed back to the motorbikes. The park closed at 4, and it was getting a little cloudy. Rain was treatening. As it was, we made it about halfway back before it started to pour. We took shelter, with another foreign couple on motorbikes who happened to stop there too, under a little hut by the side of the road, and then in a little store/restaurant where the owners spoke absolutely no English. We played cards and had some sodas, and waited for the rain to die down. It did after about an hour, but it still sprinkled on us the whole way back. 26 kilometers later, we were back in K-buri and soaked to the bone. But it was definately worth it.
"Words have no wings, but they can travel a thousand miles" (Korean Proverb)
Welcome to Flying Words, Jon and Aileen's blog of our adventures in South Korea! We will be in South Korea for a year, starting in mid-July, teaching English in a private school. We just graduated from college this past May, and are looking forward to having some adventures before continuing our education.
We started this blog to keep all our family and friends updated and to share our photos and stories. We hope this is entertaining for you! We will miss you all, and are very thankful to have the internet to keep us in touch.