Exploring Erawan National Park

Now that we were finished with the dentist, we were free to leave Bangkok. We brought all of our camping gear to Thailand so we could have the flexibility to stay wherever we wanted. Now felt like a good time to get out of the city and put it to use.

We had to aquire just a few items we weren’t able to bring with us: a lighter, fuel, knives, and food. The hunt for canister fuel for our camp stove took quite a while, but Steve was able to track it down in a small kiosk desk at the back of the store in the corner of the 3rd floor of a mall in Sukhumvit, which is the largest tourist shopping area. As tricky as finding fuel was, finding camping food proved to be even more challenging.

We knew our trusty 7/11 wouldn’t provide the type of food we needed for a couple nights in the woods. A trip down to the small grocery store on the corner didn’t offer much more. A typical backpacking meal would include some granola bars, ramen, crackers, tuna packets, pop tarts or oatmeal, instant potatoes, and some par-boiled rice. All of which are light weight and quick to cook. We searched the store for comparable options, but realized buying groceries isn’t a very common thing for Thais since homemade food is readily available on every street corner at all times of day.

We were able to find some instant noodles and some pre-cooked rice. The downfall with pre-cooked rice is the weight of the water compared. The downfall of uncooked rice is the time it takes to soak and prepare it. We found some pre-cooked pouch meat in the form of chicken curry and flavored pork & eggs. Breakfast isn’t quite a thing like we traditionally think of it, so we found some peanut butter crackers and Reeses bars to suffice.

Now that we had some sembalance of meals, we packed up to head out in the morning. We decided to leave behind anything we wouldn’t need while camping, which basically was anything we’d purchased since arriving in Thailand since all we packed to come here was one backpack each of necessities.

With our daypacks in storage at Old Town Hostel, we set out to explore. A ferry, 3 busses, and 5 hours later, we were rolling into Erawan National Park. We weren’t really sure what to expect as far as camping facilities. We knew there was a campground, but that’s about it.

We arrived to the campground field, which had about 15 rented, matching pup tents already set up along the river front. We scouted out a site for our stay. One seemingly good site turned out to be the home of a large red ant colony which promptly began to investigate our backpacks not even 15 seconds after setting them down. Steve bravely took care of those bitey little jerks (as I become physically shaken when ants invade my stuff) while I scouted for a new, critter-free site.

With home set up and wild dogs befriended, it was time to cook these strange meals. Since the pouches and rice were pre-cooked, they just needed heated up, but the noodles need cooked. We managed to get it all prrepared quickly with just boiling water. Overall, it turned out quite tasty.

The next morning came sooner than anticipataed when the herd of children from the nearby camp came running through the campground for their morning exercise and screeching at 6am. I’m all for ‘early to bed, early to rise’, but I prefer my wake up alarm to be birds chirping, not children shouting. But I digress. We decided to play it safe and pack up our site while we went hiking.

Our early wake-up call allowed us to get to the waterfalls before 8am, making us the first people there. Quite a magical feeling to have this entire 1000m trail through the forest, alongside a 7-tiered waterfall, all to ourselves.

Steve took the opportunity to photograph each waterfall level before others were present. Once we reached the top, we had about 5 minutes to ourselves before others arrived. But that didn’t stop me from going onto the falls to play for a bit.

By 10 o’clock, we decided to head back down to get some food and go for a swim. After seeing how many people were on trail, we were very happy to get the headstart we did.

At level 4, I took advantage of the slide area to finally get into the water properly. First slider of the day! Luckily the water was warm, though the sun was blocked by the trees to prevent the extra warmth from shining in on me.

Lunch was my next focus. Turns out they had several affordable restaurants and shops at the park entrance, making our food situation much more manageable. So, back out we went. Along the way, we walked with a Minnesotan family, Deb, Rachel & Emmanuel. We enjoyed chatting with them about their travels, then ran into them again the next day in Ayutthaya!

With full bellies, we decided to head back to the lower falls to enjoy some lounging, swimming, and most of all, people watching. The lower tiers were fairly busy with people: some hiking by, some swimming, and some just popping in for the Instagram photo opp, and moving on.

We found a private little nook on the other side of the pool away from the crowds. Steve, being the more adventurous one, dove on into the pool, over to the falls to dive out from behind the falls. After seeing how it’s done, I took a shot at it, too. In between swims, we let our feet dangle in the water to get a pedicure from the fish.

Our second evening at the campground was another peaceful night spent watching the local dogs play in the park. We enjoyed a longer sleep-in time since the campers were leaving in the morning, too. Two nights in Erawan and one night in Kanchanaburi gave us a nice little taste of west-central Thailand and makes me excited to see what other natural treasures await to be discovered in Thailand.

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