Sometimes it’s not about making it to the waterfall

The other day, I set my heart out to find a set of waterfalls that I heard about and also saw signage of on the way to another landmark. As I departed on the journey, I decided not to use gps or maps but to simply ‘follow the signs’ (that’s a literal follow btw). So about 40 minutes into the drive, I realized that I had passed up the sign to turn to the waterfall. Despite this I kept driving for a while to see what was ahead. I ended up finding a well known university in town that I had planned to visit in a few weeks. I’m glad I stumbled across it because the guards wouldn’t let me through the gate; so this ended up saving me a future let-down. After this I kept driving in the same direction just exploring the terrain and seeing if I would stumble across anything….On the way there, I stopped and took a few pics but after I reached a certain point, I decided to turn around and go back try to look for the sign to the waterfall. As I approached the sign, I realized just how far I had traveled past it lol! It was okay because I had explored a new part of town and was not in a huge hurry for the day…so I thought. As I followed the signs to the waterfall, I felt the excitement creep in and I became so anxious to run my hair through a refreshingly beautiful waterfall that I couldn’t wait to get there.

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I do need to rewind a bit and say that I had planned to take this trip the previous day, but it literally rained from sun-up to sun down and there was no way I was going to motorbike in that or go anywhere. So as the morning day broke, and I saw the clouds in my favor I set out for the trek. Well as you can anticipate by me giving you this backstory, lo and behold as I began driving towards the waterfall guess what greeted me?….yep….rain! Rain, rain, and more rain. I pulled over to put on my poncho and hat and waited a bit for the major downpour to stop. I looked up and saw that the clouds weren’t terribly dark, so I knew that this was a temporary rain and decided to keep going past the rain spot. Slowly but surely, I got out of it only to be greeted by another downpour of rain in the next town. Good times! At this point, I said to myself…’I AM pressing forward! What the heck it’s rainy season…you can never plan a ‘perfect day’ so you mine as well keep going.’ So I did…. 2 mph through about 10 minutes of pouring rain (sigh).

Finally, a break! The bulk of the rain stopped and as I drove through the side streets I found some of the most beautiful terrain I had ever seen in Thailand. It literally kept getting better and better as I got closer and closer to the park. I just kept stopping and taking pics – and had it not been for more threatening rain I would have stopped more.


As I reached a split in the road that didn’t have a clear sign as to which direction the park was, I stopped and asked a local business owner which direction it was and how long it would take me. He told me the direction and that it would be only another 20 minutes. Great- I thought! So I kept going and I began to reach a new set of windy roads and terrain. I thought I have to be close! The view was simply breathtaking that I stopped again and took pics, gazed, and changed from my soaking pants lol. It was such a peacefully stunning moment that I had to remind myself that this wasn’t the final destination.


So I got back on the bike, and headed through the mountains but as I was captivated by the view reality set in: ‘Look down – check your gas because you still haven’t found the park!’

Yikes!

What do I do? The last thing I want is to be stranded in the mountains in Thailand trying to communicate with a local that I ran out of gas. Okay, okay, so after about 10 more minutes of driving I decided to turn around against my own wishes. I headed back to the nearest town to find the first gas station. As I pulled in to get gas, there was no one at the pump and I was about to pull off but decided to wait a bit to see if someone would see me. Eventually, a young lady came out to pump the gas and asked me where I was headed. I told her the name of the park and asked her about how far it was from here. As I was speaking to her in Thai, or at least attempting to, another woman approached me and began speaking to me in English. I asked her the same question and she told me another 40 minutes (max). So as I pondered whether or not I would make the 2nd effort, I decided to at least eat something because I was incredibly hungry.  So I told the woman, ‘okay thanks I will try but I will eat something first’…as soon as I said that she asked me do you want me to tell you some place to get some food? I told her ‘oh no thank you, I have some food in my bag I just want to sit down and eat it’ …she then ask me ‘do you want to eat your lunch at my house? You can sit in my house at my table and have your lunch.’ What?! I thought…but I wasn’t terribly shocked as I had encountered this type of hospitality with other Thai’s before…I said ‘ Yes please- thank you so much!’

As I walked into her house, which was adjacent to the gas station, she introduced me to her grandmother and mother. Her 5 yr old son came around and she introduced me to him also. He was funny because he said that he ‘missed Bangkok for the wifi.’ As I ate my food, she asked me if I needed any plates or utensils then she offered me some bread and milk and fresh corn from her farm.We sat and got to know each other a bit, and did the usual selfie and fb swap lol …after I finished eating I thanked her and decided to give it a second go at reaching the waterfall. By this time, however we were reaching 3:30pm and I knew that I had only around 3 hours of daylight. So I tried booking it as fast as ‘safely possible.’ As I reached 15 minutes past the point that I had turned around previously, I realized that I had made the right call to turn around to get gas because there were no gas stations in sight.

I kept an eye out for the time that I had been driving and as I reached the signs that directed me towards the waterfall I thought ‘okay I’m close’….but to my surprise I never found the entrance sign to the waterfall. As the time approached 4:15pm I had to make another executive decision and choose to turn around and go home because I didn’t want to be driving back in the dark (I was about an hour and 20 min out).

On the way ‘home,’ I was a bit bummed about never having reached the waterfall. But as I gazed out and took in all the magnificent scenery, I had to admit that the drive (although painful and long at times) was well worth it! I realized that sometimes it’s not about always ‘getting there’ but being open to experience and enjoy the many stops along the way. About taking risks…about pushing past your apprehensions…but also about listening and trusting yourself.

Besides the nice lady offered to take me one day since I later fb messaged her that I never made it! We’ll see if I actually get to take her up on that offer 🙂

Spicy or Pork?

Take your pick….would you like a spicy dish or a pork one? When you come to Thailand these are going to be your main food options. Especially when you travel outside the main touristy areas. Not that there aren’t chicken, beef or fish options, but they are very limited. Also, even if you try and ask for a disk ‘Mai pet’ or ‘not spicy’ it will typically still linger with a tinge of spice to it. Also, beware when a Thai person says a dish is only a little bit spicy. This is generally code for level 5 instead of level 10 spiciness; which means it’s still unbearably spicy (in my opinion).

Also, one of the weirdest things that I’ve noticed is with all the pork that they sell I have yet to see one pig. I can’t seem to escape the presence of roosters and I’ve seen quite a few cows. So where is the pork coming from??? It’s still a mystery to me. Anywho…Since i am one who can’t eat spicy or pork dishes I am forced to stick with the more expensive dishes which are fish, beef and chicken. Now sometimes you can substitute the chicken for the pork and sometimes they offer chicken fried rice or rice and chicken at an inexpensive price. But for the most part, most of the dishes outside of this realm will cost you a bit more. So take your pick! Spicy or pork?

Hey! Your Air Conditioning’s on…..

Hey you! Your Air Conditioning is on…..
During my time living in Thailand this has been the going catch phrase that my fellow “farang” (foreigner) neighbors spew out when they see another person using their apartment air conditioning.

What’s the big deal?

Well, as you may guess, electricity here in Thailand is very “expensive;” especially air conditioning. The per unit baht charge for electricity ranges from about 5-23 baht per unit (last month I used 90 units-$18 USD).
The use of a fan all day and overnight will typically result in around 2-4 unit usage. The use of air conditioning all day and all night will triple this amount (if not more).

Now I put “expensive” in quotes because, it is only expensive if you are operating on a local salary/budget. Back home, in the States, I anticipate a high bill ($50-100) during the summer months to run my air conditioning all day and all night. Our lovely monopolized electricity company charges us a double rate for 3-4 months during the hottest time of the year, because they know people will not go without air conditioning.

Coming from this mentality to a place where you are seen as crazy for even thinking about turning on your air conditioning has been an adjustment for sure. I have not completely stopped using my apartment air condition, but I have significantly reduced my usage. I keep the overhead rotating fan running on a low speed all night and play what I call ‘musical air con’- starting and stopping it at 5 min increments just to knock off the hot stagnant air. This method has proven to be a decent compromise for me instead of completely doing without A/C in 80-95 degree weather. I also work in an air conditioned building so this helps during the day. After work, I will choose a restaurant or cafe that has air con and free wifi and will patronize them for a few hours or until the evening air hits. Some nights, if it’s just that hot in the apartment I will run the air con until I cool down. I’m not going to sit there in agony trying to fall asleep simply to save a few baht.

At the end of the day, this is one of the short term gratifications that is well worth the price. So when someone points out- “hey! you’re air conditioning is on’…I proudly say – “why yes it is!”

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