During my time in Singburi, the weeks were taken up with boxing but we were free to do as we like at the weekends. So one particular weekend we decided to go to Kanchanaburi, some 3 hours away. When we arrived we went straight to Erewan National Park, which is absolutely beautiful. We trekked our way through the dense jungle and climbed to the very top of the seven tier waterfall.
This waterfall is one of the biggest and most beautiful in Thailand, and it is one of Thailand’s natural treasures. You may recognise it, even if you have never been there, because it is normally the one that is depicted on postcards that you can buy everywhere. The trail through the jungle starts nice and flat but then as it winds up into the mountains parts of it are quite steep, but strategically placed ladders makes climbing a little easier. However, the higher you go there are also parts where some scrambling over rocks and some stream walking are required.
It was absolutely stunning and had never seen anything like it before. We passed swimmers in the lower tiers, which were much bigger than the pools higher up, and we saw other people trekking like we were.
Half way through our trek, we came across a checkpoint where we had to register, so they knew who was in the park, and also pay a small charge of 10 baht for each plastic water bottle we were carrying. The idea is that when you return and show them you still have the water bottle, you get your money back- a way to stop people dropping litter in an ecological area.
Nearer the top, we started to walk up the middle of the waterfall, which was quite slippy in places, but as it wasn’t the rainy season we were able to do this because the water level was quite low. I yet need to return to see this waterfall in full flow because I can imagine that it will be quite impressive, not that it isn’t anyway, and even in the dry season there was still enough water so you could slide down parts of it.
At the seventh tier the water cascaded into the pool and we managed to get behind the cascading water and chill out in the cool water. There were fish in the pools as well and they nibbled away at our feet, which gave us quite a shock at first and there was many screams, from the boys and as well as the girls! There are places all over Asia now that have pools of fish (actually much smaller fish than the ones at Erewan) where you can pay for them to nibble the dead skin off you feet but why go there when you can have a free one at Erewan! I wondered at the time how the fish come to be in the top tier- maybe their eggs cascade down from a higher source.
The next day I went to the Death Railway museum, which was very interesting but also very sad to be reminded how the POW’s got treated during the building of the railway. The museum has loads of photographs, which actually made me almost burst into tears, showing the state of the undernourished men, and the conditions they had to work in. There was 6 gallery’s showing such things as the design and construction of the bridge, the geography of the railway, and life in the camps.
Over the road from the museum there is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, also known as the Don-Rak War Cemetery. This is the main war cemetery here and there are 6,982 POW’s buried here, mostly Australian, British and Dutch. Two of the graves contain the ashes of 300 men who were cremated, and there are names of 11 from India who are buried in Muslim cemeteries. All the graves are situated in an impeccably kept garden, and walking round you notice that most of the men that died were under 25 years old.
A feeling of humbleness comes across you as you remember the suffering these soldiers had to tolerate during the war.