Each time I think back on our exploration of Thailand while on a month long birthday celebration trip I burst into laughter. As someone who plans most of the trips that my boyfriend and I go on, I thought for my birthday month of December I would let my hair down a little bit and not plan quite to a 'T'. So a few things that I had on my list as things that I didn't want to miss out on before leaving Bangkok had been added to the itinerary but not really booked. This was so that we could go with the flow as much as possible.
I had seen pictures of Erwan Waterfalls before I visited Thailand and knew that they were a good drive out of the city, so you either have get up and drive at stupid o'clock to avoid the traffic in Bangkok. To allow for getting out there with enough time to explore before heading back, if you are not staying overnight. I had done enough research to know roughly how long it takes to get there and seen enough pictures to know if I was heading in the wrong direction. Quite good with my barings like that. The joys of an overplanner.
Having explored Bangkok's Grand Palace, Chilled at by River Chao Phraya and scoffed down the best Shenzhen cuisine in Bangkok's China town and marvelled at how many malls I could visit as I hopped from mall to mall on my way back to our apartment and got super impressed at the idea of walking in and out of malls using the SkyWalk and wondered why London didn't think of this idea(better yet, lets just steal it and tell no one). We had finally explored enough of Bangkok to want to venture out to the countryside or swap our sky scrapper views for mountains. So two days before we were due to leave Bangkok I arranged for our concierge/reception stuff to help us book a car and driver or a tour to visit Erwan Falls. I made sure to show them the place, the name and region on my iPad. The said sure thing! I also found a tour just in case but asked them to call them for me if it was easier to arrange than to get a car.
They were going to get back to me with options. When they called back they had stated that it was a better option to take a car and driver and head to the waterfalls with our own driver as this would give us the freedom with anything else we wanted to see. That's usually my style of travel anyway, I prefer the DIY option than actual A to B to C tours. So this option suited me fine, plus the fact that they said we can still leave later to allow Bangkok rush hour traffic to die down. I dont know why alarms didnt start going off here considering I knew it would take at least 3-4 hours drive and if we were leaving at 10am we would already lose half the day. So I stuck with the part of me that was saying " just go with the flow Bee". Should have told that part to stay quiet. The other thing that should have thrown alarms was the fact that the driver was a cousin of the receptionist. Listen, I dont mind if your cousin wants to make a quick buck, as long as she is licenced to drive and can read a map, we are good to go! So When said cousin turned up, I made sure to give her the name of the falls again, just to make sure we were on the same page. She agreed and we were off.
Fast forward to getting on the way. It was hot, I had already changed into my swimsuit and worn a summer dress over it so that I could get right down to business of jumping in the water. We stopped by a petrol station just as we left the city limits. My boyfriend and I succumed to the heat, cracked and window and we were in snoozeville on the way to what my mind's eye had dreamed up to be the making of my Thai adventure! Yeah, closing our eyes, BIG MISTAKE! About an hour and half later we were woken to bird noises, lush mountains as we had now gotten off the main road and were now approaching what was looking like a national park. As soon as we got out of the car, I knew this was the wrong place. We paid 20 or 40 Thai Bhat to enter the national park and walked up a few meters. I could see at the top of the mountain a little waterfall streaming down, the name of the park to my right confirmed I was in the wrong place. I looked over at my boyfriend, who was still looking as dazed as ever from the car snooze and whispered that this is the wrong place. After much whispering I convinced him to have a word with our driver, who was now pretending not to understand a bloody thing. So we called the apartment reception and they were now trying to translate as my mind was already calulating my lost opportunity and the adventure that was going to be the making of my trip. Those tourquise water pools of Erwan Falls was no more! Instead I was on the other side of Bangkok, the opposite to where I had hopped to be. Even though our langauages are worlds apart, she could tell that Bee was definitely not a happy bunny and more of Queen Bee waiting to sting! Encourged to make the most of this place she said to check out the waterfalls anyway but I just wasn't feeling it so no enjoyment was going to come of these. Having walked around, the place, I am sure beautiful, was just not what I had in mind and I wanted to head back to Bangkok. She had driven off in the hope of us exploring this place instead. Within ten mintues, I knew I was not going to enjoy this place because it was not what I wanted to see. I had seen pictures of the waterfalls here and it was nothing compared to what I had seen of Erwan falls so we called the driver back and asked her to take us back to Bangkok. Looking at how upset I was she insisted the area is also beautiful and worth a look. The waterfalls weren't going to cut it for me, so she drove us to another part with the dam and what turned out to be beautiful river views and mountain backdrop.
Yes, I was still sulking when we got there and while I was exploring. I still managed to have plenty of locals make me laugh, all the while I was busy being upset and trying to maintain that as long as possible. I couldn't help but chuckle at just how many steps I could take before a local would smile and greet me. It appears not many brown people make there way to this part of Thailand. Even with the countless stares, they were still very friendly. Yes, there were many a picture taken with locals. I seriously don't know what people do with these pictures when they get home...
Moral of this story is not to fall asleep when you have a driver who you doesn't share the same language with, that way if you know where you are going you can voice an opinion(whether it will be understood is another thing), if you think you heading in the right direction. Needless to say, we never made it to Erwan Falls as the next day we were flying to Phuket for a week before leaving Thailand all together and heading to Malaysia. On the plus side I got to explore a part of Thailand that I wouldn't have otherwise seen. I now have an additional reason to come back to Bangkok. This time I think I will stick to an organised tour or self-drive!