What a day.
We woke up this morning and had breakfast on the river before catching a ride to the elephant ranch. We sat in the back of a truck for the half hour ride through the countryside, the weather was beautiful, it was really nice to have the wind in our faces and to just enjoy the ride. When we got there we bought a bag of bananas and hopped onto an elephant and rode through the hills. The wrangler handed Christine an absurdly pink umbrella to block out the sun as we rode. He lead us down a path to the river where we dismounted and Christine begrudgingly returned the umbrella. We each got another elephant to ride in the river. The wrangler provided us with some dish soap and a scrub brush to bathe the elephants. They are such amazing creatures, we sat around their necks and as they dunked themselves under water. They pushed their ears back to hold your legs onto them. So considerate!
That whole adventure cost around $25, which was money well spent. From there we headed back to the hostel, showered and rested a bit. While hanging out we saw a giant monitor lizard swimming through the river right in front of our place that Christine will not stop going on about and demanded I fit into this entry. To be fair, he was pretty cool (editor’s note: that monitor lizard – aka dragon – is the embodiment of awesome!) (writer’s note: Christine is never going to be asked to edit my entires again).
After that we rented a motorbike and took off on the open road, eventually finding our way to the “Death Train” and the “Bridge Over the River Kwai”. I bought a much needed pair of sunglasses and we proceeded to get lost until we found a passage over the river we could take on the bike (the “bridge over the river Kwai” is train or foot only, no vehicles allowed).
We spent some time getting lost, asking directions and having a good laugh before we stumbled onto a bridge and eventually made our way to the Khao Pun Caves and the Buddhist temple built in and around them. It was quite possibly the most peaceful experience I’ve had here, which is saying a lot. The caverns went deep under ground and we stumbled onto a massive amount of bats lurking up above us and proceeded very carefully as to not disturb them. Despite our efforts, one or two still took flight here and there, giving us a mild spook.
The place was filled with a crazy amount of Buddha statues stashed throughout the caverns and many of the passages got absurdly tight and short causing my lanky self to have to duck often. We were both very thankful for not being much larger in size. It reminded me of the scenes from “In Bruges” where Colin Farrell’s character is heckling the fat American family, telling them they won’t be able to climb to the top of the bell-tower. Luckily we’re not that large.
The caverns were beautiful beyond what I can describe and it was nice to find some naturally cool air here (it’s been in the 90’s this week). As we were leaving, a monk set himself up in front of a massive Buddha statue and started to pray. It was an extremely moving thing for me to witness but I made a conscious effort not to disturb him. After that we biked back into town for some dinner at the “Tofu Bar Vegetarian Food” restaurant, which thankfully had free WiFi for customers. We watched the sun go down over a few beers, listened to some John Lennon and caught up on the news. I’ve very much enjoyed being cut off from just about everything aside from twitter but it’s good to know what’s going on as well.
Tomorrow we’re heading out to Ayutthaya which is the old capital of Thailand and from there to Nakhon Sawan, a small city where Christine is teaching. As much as I’ve enjoyed the tourist stuff I’m excited at the possibility of getting into a less touristy area and seeing things a little more like a local.
As for tonight, back to the bar we found last night to share a pint with a couple of Belgian girls while listening to our new Thai friend Juan (definitely spelled wrong) play music.
Until tomorrow friends, cheers!