The Floating Nun didn’t disappoint, well Olga was a bit unsatisfied. When a 200 pound woman dressed in white neared the corner, we were a bit surprised. The brochure mentioned a tiny old woman who was able to sit in the water for a long period of time without moving. This nun was much younger and we couldn’t call her tiny even if we wanted to. Silently she put her hands in prayer and then proceeded into the water. Making graceful occult signs with her hands, she floated in the water only half-way submerged. She was beautiful to watch. The feel of complete peace and unity with the Universe reflected in each of her movement. The audience was silent. Thai people are very religious and seeing a holy person performing “magic” with the blessing of Buddha made them revere in awe. The reason Olga was disappointed because she thought there was no trick to the nun’s float. At the nearest beach she proceeded to prove us her point but couldn’t hold her balance in water long enough. We had a few laughs and gave the nun her due.
After getting lost several times and wasting hundreds of miles going back and forth, we finally entered Erawan Resort where the infamous waterfall was located. Alas, we came too late and the waterfall was closing soon. The security at the entrance told us to come back early the next day to take full advantage of time needed to explore all seven tiers of the waterfall. A bit disappointed, we drove away and soon found a quiet and beautiful lake nearby where we decided to relax for a while before going out to search for lodging.
A small floating pier welcomed us with a soft squeak of old wood. The weather was warm and our heads were weary; Olga and Natalie laid down on the pier and I started to write in my journal.
Right next to us, a large Thai family was having a party. Lots of food and booze were accompanied by laughter and splashes of water. Next things we knew, they were offering us beer and food and asking to join their company. We started to “talk” and soon became quite fond of our new friends. Olga and Natalie were challenged to jump in the water and when they accepted the challenge, our initiation was completed. We were part of the family. They were impressed with our stories and travels and offered their young member as a guide to our Erawan Waterall trip the next day. They also made a few calls and got us a cheap room in a beautiful resort right next to the waterfall. And the next thing we knew, we were invited to their house for dinner.
The dinner was superb. The owner of the house made a few runs to the open-air market nearby and bought fresh meat and vegetables. There were so many dishes and they were so delicious, we completely stuffed ourselves. We also found out that the owner’s wife lived in Japan for a long while many years ago and spoke very good Japanese. My Japanese was as “good” as their English and our communication increased ever so slightly.
The evening was wonderful. We played with kids. Talked to adults about Thailand. Showed them pictures of our travels. Drank beer. And exchanged presents. The atmosphere was friendly, relaxed and family like.
Kids, cooking their own dinner
The next day we picked up Sam, our 17 year old guide, at his house and were off to the waterfall. At the entrance, we met Sen, his 60 year old relative who decided to accompany us as well. The waterfall was stunning. Ember color of water glowed teasingly through sparking rays of the sun. And even abundance of tourists didn’t sway us from entering clear waters. Each tier, exposed new wonders and beauty. We were thoroughly smitten.
Our guides: Sen and Sam
At one of the rest-stops, we met a European man in his 60s who was sitting on a tangled web of roots of a beautiful tree which was wrapped in holly yellow fabric that is usually worn by monks. With his feet slightly treading the water, he looked peaceful and wise. The Brit turned out to be a fascinating narrator and we spent an hour talking to him about alternative healing (which he practiced), his 30 year long journey across the world, “holly” union of marriage and relationships. Wanting to spend more time talking to him but feeling bad for Sam and Sen who patiently waited by our side, we had to let the Wondering Shaman go.
We spent most afternoon in the waterfall. Swimming around with nibbling fishes, sliding down big rocks into cool water, relaxing under warm rays and trying to communicate with Sam and Sen who didn’t speak a word of English. After the waterfall, Sam took us to a large cave. Barely lit by a gasoline lantern, the cave allowed our imagination to run wild. Each stalactite transformed from an ordinary limestone into animals, flowers and fish of all sizes and shapes. We saw skulls, sank ships and hidden treasures. The cave was magical.
We spent the evening with Sam and lots of beer by the lake of our resort. By then, Sam has fallen hard for one of group members and when we dropped him off at his house late at night, he didn’t want to let go. Holding tight the hand of the woman of his heart, he looked like a lost puppy. His family made jokes about the “couple” but he wasn’t a least bit mad. The only thing that was upsetting him was that he had to say good-bye. His chosen woman realized the absurdity of the situation and rushed her friends to go but not before Sam made her promise to come back in the morning to say proper good-bye.
If only she knew how quickly and deeply young hearts fall in love…