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Published: November 25th 2021
Today was intended to be a relaxing day (relatively speaking).We're going to spend the day in this area, and sleep in town another night. But not in this hotel. The breakfast served here is bad, the coffee worse, and the room is just too gloomy. So we reserved a room at the Water Park Hotel Kanchanaburi as it had good reviews and price. More on that later...
We went for a walk to the famous bridge over the river Kwai, walked across it and took some selfies. We sat on the grass under the bridge and read a bit about it, and found that not only is the name a misnomer, but it's mispronounced as well! The bridge spans a river of a different name that, together with the Khwae Noi rover flows into the Mae Klong. But the name stuck, so instead of trying to change the name of the bridge and the story behind it, the Thais renamed the rover to Khwae Yai, which at least sounds more similar to Kwai ('Kwai', apparently, means 'Buffalo' in Tai).
On the walk back to the hotel we got a taste of some strange looking fruit. Looked like a distorted
pear with a lovely pinkish-red color. It is crispy, juicy and a little bit sweet, somewhere between a watermelon and an apple in bot texture and taste, and very refreshing! I looked it up and found it is rose apple (also called wax apple).
We checked out of the hotel and drove up to Erawan National Park to see the waterfalls. It's just an hour away and the 'Beware of elephants crossing' signs made the drive interesting! That and the monkey crossing over the road on the electric cable.
The park is very well organized, a large parking area surrounded by touristy food and souvenir stalls, you buy your (expensive) tickets from a machine (it accepts cash and credit), and in you go. The path is well paved with concrete made to look like wood, so it's less offensive to the surrounding nature, and you can hire a golf cart to the first set of falls. There you can rent a life jacket for swimming, and go off to explore the park! There's a large sign numbering the falls, from 7 to 1. You start at the lowest cascade (number 1), and go upstream. So the sign is
arranged in that order, from bottom to top, and each set of falls or rapids is a bit different. It's actually considered one waterfall with multiple levels (7 main, larger levels and a bunch of smaller steps in between) spanning a distance of 1,500 meters.
The falls themselves are absolutely beautiful! White water pouring into turquoise semicircular pools with a tan border of rock, surrounded by the lush greens of the forest. And swimming is allowed! By the first and second groups of falls there are picnic platforms (like large tables without seats, people just sit and eat on the platform), bathrooms and changing rooms, a small snack bar and a ranger station. All a bit too civilized for my taste, but I understand the reasoning behind it.
We had a picnic lunch with stuff we picked up from a supermarket in Kanchanaburi, and enjoyed the set of cascading steps, like terraces flowing next to us. There was a fallen tree that created a bridge and both of us crossed it.
I changed into a bathing suit and we headed up the trail. At the first and second set there were lots of people, but as we
got higher there were fewer of them. The trail crossed the river a couple of times on bridges. In some places the trail was quite steep with tall, uneven stairs, at others it was easy. One set of falls looked like a couple of upended bowls with the water flowing over them. Others had a whole set of semicircular terraces, each with a turquoise pool in it, sometimes with fish. Some had a taller fall with a large, deep pool at the base. Those had larger fish, and in one I found smaller fish that looked like cleaner fish you find in an aquarium. Actually, they found me! They tried to clean my feet!
At another I sat in my own little pool, with cool water flowing on my back. Wonderful!
We finally reached number 7. Can't miss it. It's huge! A very tall waterfall plummeting down the cliff, must have been at least 60 or 70 meters tall, and the cliffs around it had streams flowing down among the trees and vines. The pool here isn't deep and we waded and took pictures here before heading back down.
As we were leaving the park, just below
level 1 I spotted a large monitor lizard just a few meters away checking out the trash can. It noticed us and wouldn't let us get too close, but didn't seem too alarmed.
Soon after that we were back at the parking lot, We got some overly sweet tea (Gilat, as usual got green tea, I got Ovaltine) and drove back to town. We stopped for some shopping, had supper at a local restaurant, and went to our new hotel.
This is when things got interesting. The place was dark, I entered the lobby and the only person there was a young teenager asleep on a bench. I woke him and said I have a reservation. He didn't understand English, or the concept of a hotel. He called mom to help. It took a while, but we finally got a room. It had cracks in the wall, was musty and mildewey, and there was no WIFI, no breakfast, there was barely electricity! None of the amenities promised. So much for high rating on Google!
I found another place outside of town, called to make sure they had a room and what we needed, and we left. Our
new hotel was a set of small villas set around a pond. Very nice! The place was in dire need of some maintenance but it was clean and had WIFI, and they served the best breakfast we got at any of the hotels right to our room! The staff were pleasant and helpful too, and after the fiasco of our first choice of hotel, that was just what we needed.
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