After 12 exciting and lesson filled days in the big city of Bangkok, we jumped on a train and headed west to the small town of Kanchanaburi, which in Thai translates to City of Gold. On the mission going north, we decided to take the scenic route and Kanchanaburi made the first stepping stone on our list. The train we took looked like a steam locomotive pulled right out of a movie from the 70s. Hard seats, a couple fans, no fluff but the ride was well worth it. A scenic three hour ride where we got to enjoy miles and miles of farms, mountains, cows and untouched land as far as you could see. It felt freeing to be able to stick my head out the open window and let my hair fly all around me, I think I get why dogs do it now.
We didn't really know what to expect when we arrived to Kanchanaburi. We pictured a much slower paced town where we would be able to chill out from the city's madness. We were mostly right. When we got off the train, we walked for about 10 minutes to our guesthouse and right when we turned on our street we immediately realized that this is where all the fun happens. It's a small street filled with all kinds of themed bars and restaurants, most themes wildly inappropriate for Thai standards. We passed by a bar blasting Britney Spears (my best friend Manny would've loved), one place that looked like it was straight out of Jamaica and another boasting drinks for only 10 baht (under 30 cents in the US). We were happy that for the next three days we would have the best of both worlds, small town flair with some eccentric entertainment sprinkled in.
On top of our list of things to do in Kanchanaburi was to visit the Erawan National Park that houses the Erawan Waterfalls. Side note: The name Erawan is the Thai interpretation of Airavata, the mythological three-headed white elephant that carried the Hindu god Indra.
Back home, Trav and I hiked literally every weekend this past summer so we were itching for some nature trails. We woke up early the next morning, hopped on the local bus and rode an hour to the park. On arrival, we were met by a small market with a huge mountain as it's backdrop.
All the signs told us that we had to go up 7 tiers to catch each section of the waterfall. Trav was a little disappointed that the first couple of tiers were just paved out stairs that we had to climb. He's usually more into the challenge of climbing rocks and jumping over shit. Each section had its own mini waterfall, gliding over limestone rocks into crystal emerald pools of water filled with fish, more on those little suckers in a minute, or should I say nibblers? Anyway, we were so in awe of the smoothness and definition of the rocks that we couldn't stop talking about it.
We climbed what seemed to be an endless stairway of rocks and stopped at about tier 5, because by that point I was sweating bullets. People were swimming and riding down the natural rock slides. We hopped in the water and it was like instant gratification. Like three minutes later, the flesh eating fish came! You know those expensive pedicures where you stick your feet in the water and these little baby fish nibble away at your dead skin? Well, this was that but intense, they're everywhere in the Erawan waters and much bigger! I never saw the appeal and now I know why. It's the weirdest sensation getting nibbled on by tons of fish. I couldn't stay in the water too long but Trav seemed like he could handle it better than me. He told me that all I had to do was keep moving and the fish would swim away, but that didn't work out too well on my end.
We put our clothes back on and headed up to the 6th and then the final 7th tier. The paved stairs stopped by this point and we got to "really hike" in Trav's terms. He would always take the harder way up and I would go around and find an easier way. That's usually when I roll my eyes at him. I was relieved when we got to the end of the trail after 2-3 hours of climbing. By that point there was a lot of people swimming with the fishy nibblers and enjoying the biggest section of the waterfall. It was truly a beautiful sight to take in.
What a great day filled with scenery, exercise and swimming. Unfortunately, the name is a bit of a trick bag seeing as there is no gold, but still, it's a town that I will never forget.