Sai Yok Yai river trip

Following an extended stint in the UK it was time for another Asian road trip, I had missed them. We were heading north, past Kanchanaburi and on towards Sai Yok Yai, a National Park on the River Kwae in the western reaches of Thailand. The drive was a long one, seven hours in total from Bangsaphan, it took a fair few kilometers to get used to the utter mayhem on Thai roads after half a year of civilized driving in the UK where other road users are not trying to kill you every ten minutes.

We were staying in a river raft inside the National Park, arriving late in the afternoon, with rain lashing down I stayed in the car while Da went to pay the park entrance fees. This way I got in for the local price (100 baht), not the inflated foreigner one (300 baht) – we could use the same tickets for our entire stay. It was mid week and we had the entire place to ourselves.

A five minute walk from our floating room took us to the main attraction of the area, Sai Yok Yai waterfall. I have seen a lot of waterfalls in my time and this one simply wouldn’t have warranted the inflated park fees to come and see it (a white family of four would have to stump up a thousand baht to get in). Others must have thought the same as the place was deserted though there was a nice ambiance to the whole area. We spent the afternoon swimming, fishing and just generally lazing by the river.

Today we would head north to a hot springs a few kilometers up the road. It had been raining all night and rivers were swollen, disappointingly the hot springs had flooded so we couldn’t get in them. We drove on in search of a local waterfall but turned back when we were hit with another 300 baht entrance fee. It seems that the junta are pulling out all the stops in milking the natural resources of the country to sting tourists, both domestic and foreign. A number of cars in front of us also turned around, charging the locals to look at their own waterfalls isn’t going down too well.

Back to our riverside setting then to enjoy some fresh fruit from a floating vendor and get the rods out – though fishing in this fast flowing river wasn’t easy. Peace was shattered that evening as the noisy weekend warriors started to arrive. It was time to get on the road north, we’d had three enjoyable nights on our river raft.