my travels around Thailand and Asia


A Cascading Affair

This post is a little late and happened a few weeks ago. A busy schedule at school has kept me from finishing this one on time. A couple of weeks back we were invited to spend the day at a co-workers house (who lives in walking distance of Taphae waterfall in Nakorn Si Thammarat). The chance to visit a new waterfall is always an exciting one and is hardly ever turned down.

This all happened, because for the last few weeks we’ve been teaching adult classes at the municipality. These adult classes came as a big shock to us, as they were not part of our contract and were never really discussed with us. At first we were told we would be teaching 60 adults, 5 times a week, from March until September. We were certainly not happy with that at all and made a little bit of a fuss. It then changed to three days a week, and eventually after some more negotiation from our side, we got it down to 2 days a week. This was perfect for us, as we take Thai lessons on Mondays and Wendesdays and could teach the adult class on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Friday being free time.

In the beginning we were really nervous about teaching adults, as it would be a first for both me and Angela, but the classes have turned out to be quite enjoyable and the students that seem to come every week (about 15 or so) are motivated and excited about learning English, which always makes our job a little easier. Over the past few weeks, we’ve become friendly with some of the Thai ladies that frequent the class and after an evening of coffee and roti (a type of pancake filled with egg and banana) at one of the popular road side stalls, the idea for all of us to visit Pee Sila (works at the municipality and is in charge of sorting out all our admin) at her home near the waterfall, came about. Everyone seemed interested, so plans were made and we were to meet at the municipality at 1pm the following day. From there we would be picked up and taken to the waterfall, which was about 45 minutes in a car. On the menu for the day was a late lunch, and then some fun time to explore and swim with our new friends.

the house is perched up on a steep incline. a good workout making it up that path everyday

the view from her dining room.

this is what we were greeted with when we arrived. a full seafood platter with prawns, squid and fish.

the bbq was ready and smokin

Pee Sila making some naam prik Thai (chilli sauce) and yum ma-muang (mango salad)

Angela, Pee Noi, Mot and Pee Ning

Angela hard at work

Pee Sila cooking up some seafood

having a little taste before the big sit down

yum wun sen talay (spicy glass noodle seafood salad)

some grilled prawns

some fish on the bbq

this dish is called yum plaa (it's a fried fish with a Thai salad on top). very tasty!

some bread we had made at home. no one really went for it. hahaha!

naam prik Thai (chilli sauce)

everyone tucking into the feast of prawns, squid, fish, seafood salad, fish salad, spagetti, raw veg. and bread

After the feast was done, I could hardly move. Honestly, I was ready to explode. There was so much food. Thai’s seem to eat a lot of food, but over a long period of time. I have seen some slim Thai woman eat twice as much as I do. I still can’t figure it out. I think they must just take little bites every so often, unlike myself, stuffing my face full of everything in the first 10 minutes.

A thai meal is a little different than what we are used to.  The food is mostly shared amongst everyone, with different dishes placed in the middle of the table for everyone to pick at. This happens at restaurants too, where a few different dishes are ordered and everyone shares whats on the table. I quite like this way of eating, firstly because you get to try a bunch of different dishes and aren’t stuck with a big plate of something you don’t like and secondly everyone seems more social and chatty, while they take small tasters of whats on offer.

After all the food, it was time to see the waterfall. We had actually been once before with ollie pup and Jack (we had found it trying to find a view point, which we didn’t end up finding that day. We did however find the waterfall, but bad weather didn’t allow us much time there, so we were pleased to make it back).

By the time we had reached the entrance most of the people had left and it seemed we had come at the perfect time. All you could hear was the pounding of falling water, rushing over the tired rocks, creating a rhythm so peaceful, your body couldn’t do anything but follow it’s beat. At this point there is only you and the waterfall. Nothing else matters. Meditation is happening, even though you are doing nothing. Your soul awakens and a feeling of calm encompasses your entire body. It’s quite an experience.

everyone ready for the swim


Friends and Waterfalls

It’s been a busy two weeks with friends coming and going. We have not really had many visitors previously and this past month over a short period of time, Victor (our spanish friend from Ko Tao) came through, my sister spent two and a half weeks with us and most recently a good friend from China made contact. Our friend Luke (standing at 6ft 8in, a giant of man) recently surprised us by coming through to our hometown for a visit. We used to work in China together at English First in Jiaxing and haven’t seen each other in nearly a year. A great memory of mine is hiking Huangshan (aka, yellow mountain) with Angela, Gareth (my good friend from South Africa) and Luke. Luke seemed to be the man of reason and without him we might still have been stuck on that dam mountain. The hike was rather intense and bad weather didn’t help the nerves, but we made it to the highest point, without any major incident ( I did however, nearly get blown off the mountain, and I’m lucky to be alive).  Maybe thats just me being a softy, I think I might have been crawling at some point, maybe even crying.

four happy faces standing on the top of Huangshan in China

After unexpectedly receiving his email telling us he was traveling Thailand, we were more than happy for him to come through and offered him a bed in our spare room. With Luke only staying for three days, we had more than enough time to show him around our little town and on the top of the list was ‘Namtok Plew’. This would however only happen on his last day, the same day we were saying goodbye to a close friend of ours David (a hip hop artist from California, who taught with Angela at Satree Thung Song, and who was my first friend in Thung Song). He too loved exploring waterfalls, so when we mentioned a last visit to this majestic cascade, he was not going to say no. We didn’t have much time as David was leaving at 7pm and it was already 4pm. With two bikes we raced off into the hills, hoping we would have enough time to bathe in the ‘infinity pool’, experiencing that feeling of complete calm in our lives, and then if time allowed, get the adrenaline pumping with some cliff jumps at level one.

time for a dip

bring on the rock jumping

the big decision

walking on air

well done

no fear

Luke ready to go

Angela up for her jump

no turning back

there she goes

Luke in mid flight

insane roots

the trip back

the road is a difficult one to master

Introduction to Thung Song

Hey friends, this is now my second post, but the funny thing is, over a year has passed between the two posts. A lot has happened in this time, but I’m not going to dwell on it, rather I’m going to focus on what’s happening now in my life. I have been lazy and unmotivated to write about my travels, but I think now it’s time and I’m finally ready to give it a proper go. I am currently teaching in Thailand with my girlfriend Angela and we have just started a new contract with a school in Thung Song.

Thung Song (Thai: ทุ่งสง) is a district (Amphoe) in the southwestern part of Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand.

Southern Thailand

Thong Song is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and waterfalls. The waterfalls are amazing and are a good place to go relax and get away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. When saying that, Thung Song is more like a small town, population 30,000, but there is still traffic and pollution and sometimes you just need to get into nature.

There are two waterfalls that are very close to the town center, around 10 or 20 minutes on a scooter and at least another 5 in the area that I know of. Namtok (waterfall in Thai) Yong is the closest, but most commercial and often busier than the other waterfalls. If  you are foreign you can expect to pay 200 baht to enter this waterfall. If you have a work permit (I have one) or are Thai (I am not one) you only pay 20baht. I don’t really spend much time at Yong as I feel waterfalls are meant to be appreciated with solitude and that they should have a meditative effect on the mind. I go there to forget, clear my mind and appreciate the silence.

Yong waterfall

A swim in the fresh crisp water can wipe your body of all negativity and I often feel a burst of energy running through my veins. The power of the falling water on my body cleanses my mind of all stress and It’s an awesome release from life. With the masses of people visiting Yong daily and the entrance fee  you can’t really appreciate the waterfall for its therapeutic effects.

However a bit further out is Namtok Plio, (also Pleu, Plew), we have actually seen it written three different ways. This is because there is no uniform system that has been devised in the our alphabet to represent the Thai phonics. This is different to what we experienced in China where chairman Mao’s government created the system of pinyin to help improve literacy. Pinyin is the official system to transcribe chinese characters into the roman alphabet.

Plio waterfall is about 20 minutes on the scooter, but worth the extra milage. The road is a little worn and rough, but when you get there you’ll be overjoyed you made the decision. There are hardly any people and it won’t cost a cent to get in, so you have all the beauty to yourself. At this point no one can disturb your feeling of connectedness with the planet. There are 5 levels you can hike to at Plio, so it really caters to everyone’s needs. Because no one really knows about this waterfall the paths up to the different levels have become overgrown and sometimes difficult to pass, however with persistence no path is impassible and upon reaching levels 4 and 5 the views become breathtaking.

Different levels at Plew

Level 4

'infinity pool' at Plew

Klong Chang Waterfall

This one has no name

I have grown to love Thung Song for its simplicity and friendly smiles. I was very happy when I decided to stay another year in this picturesque area and explore deeper into the unknown.