What a day.
This morning, we woke up 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, and it was really nice to have the wind in our faces and enjoy the ride. When we got to the ranch, we bought a bag of bananas, were helped 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. I sat around the back of an elephant’s neck as it pushed its ears back against its body to hold onto my legs as it dunked itself sideways underwater. An incredible life-affirming experience that exemplifies the intelligence of the animal on almost an emotional level.
That whole adventure cost around $25, which was money well spent. From there, we headed back to the hostel, showered, and rested up. While relaxing, we just happened to catch a glimpse of a giant monitor lizard swimming through the river right in front of our place. As I write this, Christine will not stop going on about it and demanded I fit into this entry. To be fair, it 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 entries again.)
After that, we rented a motorbike and took off on the open road, eventually finding our way to the “Death Railway” 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 underground, and we stumbled onto a massive amount of bats lurking up above us and proceeded very carefully as not to disturb them. Despite our efforts, one or two still took flight here and there, giving us a mild spook.
The place was filled with an astonishing 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. Fortunately, 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 has 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 enjoyed being detached 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, Thailand’s old capital, and 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 bit 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!