Logistically Handicapped

Trip Start May 29, 2008
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Trip End Dec 19, 2008


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Friday, August 29, 2008

After arriving at our train stop, which was a remote stop in a rural village, we soon found out that the bus the hotel told us to take had finished service earlier in the day. When we stepped off some people were helping us with our bags which we said we didn't need help with. They asked if we needed a ride and since the bus had already finished its route we really had no other choice. They wanted to charge us 400 baht for driving about 9 miles - in Bangkok we rarely paid over 75 baht and once paid 150 for a 40-minute drive. We were logistically handicapped throughout this trip and had to rely on the few exorbitantly priced transportation options available. As a comparison, we could have a meal in Bangkok for about 60 baht, a beer for 30 baht.  At our accommodations in Nam Tok, we paid 500 baht for lunch.
 
Our accommodations of choice in the area were the River Kwai Jungle Rafts.  These were floating boats with hotel accommodations - they called them floatels. The boat trip there was amazing (however, we later found out that they were charging 900 baht - $30 - per round trip, which was a lot considering it was the only option to get to the rafts).  When we first arrived, it was already dark, so it was reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World, with the candlelit houseboats in view as we coasted in the peaceful night with crickets chirping on either side.  The jungle rafts were romantically lit with oil lamps and accentuated with colorful flowers throughout.  There is no electricity on the rafts, so the oil lamps were used in and outside of the rooms.  With no electricity, the modern world seemed to drift away, with time meaning nothing.
 
Our first excursion in the area was the tiger temple.  While the main draw to the tiger temple is the opportunity to touch and take pictures with the tigers, we found it just as exciting to be able to touch the deer and bulls - it was much like a petting zoo, with everything being tame to the touch.  One aspect that we disliked was that even the monks seem to be hustlers.  We saw a temple and walked up to the sight of a couple other tourists being shown how to pray to buddha.  As we started to walk away, the monk motioned us to join.  After showing us how to light the incense and bow, he asked for a donation.  Ok, then.  We put some money in a bucket.  He then walked us over to another area where he proceeded to place a necklace over the other tourists' heads.  He then asked for another 100 baht.  We started to walk off and he tried insisting that we stay, but we weren't about to pay again. We think he used to be a taxi driver before going into the monkhood.
 
When we got back to our floatel we threw on some lifejackets and started floating down the river from one end of the floatel to the other. It was a cool, refreshing ride. I tried swimming against the current but my Michael Phelps abilities weren't hitting on all cylinders that day.
 
As we've made progress through our trip it seems that the activities we're doing get better and better. First, Cinqueterre, Italy was the best then the hike in Coffee Bay, South Africa and now, after our most recent adventure, I think Erawan Waterfalls in Thailand would have to trump them all. Honestly, words cannot describe it and the pictures don't do it justice. Rachel found this obscure place during her research as it is off the radar of most tourist info and pretty cheap to get in. As you can see in the pictures there's barely anybody frequenting this place so it made it serene and somewhat exclusive for us. I have no idea how Rachel found it but it turned out to be a goldmine of exciting hikes, rock jumping, waterfall diving, watersliding, and just spectacular surroundings. There were 7 tiers of waterfalls from different levels of the mountain so you would have to walk to each waterfall and every single one was different in its own way. The hike in between waterfalls was fantastic as the landscape was changing all the way up, we'd cross swaying bridges that had multiple wooden steps broken out of them like a Pirates of the Caribbean scene, interesting colorful shrines on the way up, and the forestry was really diverse. Rachel did her Jane of the Jungle impression on one of the vines during our hike. Also, there were monkeys that were trying to steal everybody's stuff and the park "ranger" was using a slingshot to keep them away from all of our stuff. It was pretty comical as he'd hide from the monkeys and then a monkey got near anybody's belongings he'd snipe them with rubber pellets. Harmless yet effectively got them away from our stuff.
 
Flesh-eating Fish Pedicure was the beauty treatment of the day as in the pools surrounding the waterfalls there were flesh eating fish. It sounds worse than it really is and is a very luxurious treatment that people pay for in beauty salons. We got it for free as the fish in these pools would come up to our feet and pick at the loose skin on them and eat it. There were also other vacuum fish that would suck and scrape at your feet and legs to exfoliate you. It was one of the most amazing experiences. As a matter of fact, if we wouldn't have seen a girl doing it we would have had no idea those fish were there. Imagine just wading along in these pools not knowing that these fish do that and having them bite at you!!!! The bites weren't like a piranha bite or anything it was more like they would latch onto your loose skin and tear it off which took some getting used to but didn't hurt at all.
 
If you're ever in Thailand and do nothing else at least visit Erawan Waterfalls. It's one of the coolest experiences we've ever had. Oh yeah, and since we were logistically handicapped, we paid 1,300 baht to get here so keep that in mind. As a matter of fact, stay in Kanchanaburi as there are more transportation options which means more competition and lower prices. We were victim to the old supply and demand dynamic and were on the wrong wide of the equation. Very little supply and we had to get to these locations so the locals here knew they could take advantage. That was the only negative to the area is that the people offering tourist services charged a lot because they knew they could get away with it. In Bangkok, we could drive for about 40 mins for 150 baht and out here they charged 1,000 baht. Ridiculous, especially considering it's a poorer, rural area. Either way, we wouldn't trade the experience for the world.
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I was there at Jungle Rafts too. It is not expensive if you take a joined boat (time scheduled) not private boat, because we shared with other people. I think the schedule runs on 3 time periods in the afternoon.

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