I only had one entry on my bucket list for Thailand. I’m not really sure why – maybe because as much as I’d like to ride elephants and feed tigers, I’m not dying to do either of those things – but after seeing evidence of this particular occurrence happening in Thailand I knew that I had to do it.
Today, I finally did it.
I finally got to ride on the back of an open-air truck.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Bubpha came to mine at 7:30 to cook breakfast on my new kitchen setup before we left for the train station to get to the Eastern waterfalls. There was a woman with a pet chihuahua dressed in ‘Adidog’ clothing (I applaud whoever thought that up) sitting next to me, and she kept popping it up to the window so that it could see outside. So my train ride was spent taking many, many photos of that.
We arrived at Muak Lek station in the Saraburi province and were greeted with the site of a fairly deserted town strip, save for a few low-quality clothing stalls. Bubpha asked for directions and after a quick iced coffee (which I’m starting to like less and less here, since they all seem to taste like dishwater) we made it to the Muak Lek waterfall. Much like the town itself there was a distinct lack of people, but considering the cramped tourism of Erawan Falls the other week I wasn’t really complaining about this. Infact, the whole area was quite peaceful.
Eventually I found a grassy path leading away from the falls and came across some deserted looking wooden shacks that were inexplicably piled with bottles of water. The site of a monk doing some nearby gardening work soon caught my eye and began to make me feel intrusive, so I took that as my sign to leave. But not before finding a crazy-looking millipede and a spider that was bigger than I’m comfortable with it being.
We ventured down to the market to find a way to Namtok SaoNoi National Park after that, which was when Bubpha found the answer to all of my bucket-list based dreams. Granted, it wasn’t really the full experience. The outside of the truck had metal bars surrounding it reducing the chances of a carefully-placed speed bump throwing you out completely, thus making it more safe and less fun. But i was still great for what it was, and I did fear that Bubpha would break my camera when she was holding it whilst we went over some bumpy roads. I think that’s pretty similar to fearing for my own life.
Namtok SaoNoi falls were more similar to Erawan in that there were a lot of tourists concentrated in one area. Since I didn’t have the time or clothes on me to swim I walked around the outskirts instead and found the walkway and tourists both quickly faded into unsteady looking rocks and swarms of ants. I still made it around fine in my sandals though, which I’m beginning to think are indestructible.
We got back to the station to find our train massively delayed so Bubpha and I, being the rebels without a cause that we are, took some photos in front of the local police station. I guess that’s right on the line between loitering and tourism. When we finally boarded I got to see the crazier side of third class train travel that I had apparently missed up until now. Sitting beside me was an overly friendly local who told me he was travelling to Bangkok to busk and, as became apparent when he offered me some very dodgy looking whiskey from a coke bottle, was quite drunk. At first I was more annoyed than anything, as the intense afternoon heat meant that I would’ve rather slept than be forced to make conversation, but when he tried to touch my legs after being amazed at how white they were, then showed me his chest for reasons I’m still not really sure of, I started to get more than a bit concerned. Bubpha indicated that this was our cue to switch train carriages, an idea that I was very supportive of. She left me at Phachi station and I travelled onwards to Bangkok, wondering exactly how the night would pan out.
(For obvious reasons I didn’t get a photo of the crazy drunk man, so here is another photo of Adidog instead. N’AWW LOOK AT HIM HE THINKS HE’S PEOPLE.)
As it turns out, the night was pretty decent, but took a bit of time to actually go anywhere. I met up with a few ETAs on one of the strips parallel to (and nicer than) Khaosan Road, where we got taxis that drove straight into a whole load of traffic, promptly delaying us for ages. We ended up in a club called Grease, which was ridiculously expensive, had a very low-hanging ceiling and a disappointing lack of people dressed as John Travolta and Olivia-Newton John.
It was fun anyway, although the highlight of the night occurred on the taxi ride back where, out of a conversation I can’t really remember, we started singing our own Acapella version of Barbara-Ann by The Beach Boys. Honestly, we were amazing. If any current ETAs reading this want to start a TET 2014 Barbershop Quartet, drop me a line, as I reckon we could go far.