December 12, 2012
We started off the day with strong cups of nescafe instant coffee, which absolutely needs sugar even if you usually take coffee black.
The biking was hilly, but nothing compared to the day before. Our destination was the Mae Khamin Waterfall, which is on the west side of the Si Nakharin Reservoir. Our route led us roughly along the eastern shore. After about 7km we took a spur road down to the water where a small ferry carried traffic across the narrow neck of an inlet. The ferry cut off about 20km of road which meandered along the edges of the inlets many fingers. After a 15 minute ride we had the daunting job of climbing back up to the road grade a few hundred feet above the reservoir.
After a few more warm km of riding and a detour into the sleepy administrative town of Si Sawat, we made it to another ferry spur road. This ferry cuts across the width of the reservoir and is the only access to the western shore north of the dam.
The first kilometer of the road was concrete that quickly yielded to a rough unpaved water damaged track. I wasn’t totally sure we were on the right road.
Finally we popped out at the top of a hill overlooking two bright blue ferries. As we approached, something didn’t seem right. Once we got down to the water we realized there wasn’t anyone around, tarps covered the ferry engines, and it didn’t look like we were going anywhere soon. We spotted an old woman laying in a hammock on the porch of her small house above the ferry landing. Chandler went to talk to her, but she threw her hands dismissively at the two ferries, then at him in an international gesture of “go away!”. She rolled over in her hammock and that was the end of her assistance. This was the first unfriendly person we have meet in Thailand.
Considering the time of day and that we had already rode about 35 miles, we were not interested in turning around. We had seen a sign up the road for Camping Meeting #2, a weekend retreat type of place that was deserted. We figured we would hang out there until we could come up with a plan, then ride somewhere when it cools down a bit. At this point it was looking like our options were reduced to backtracking for two days to the highway, or riding further north and crossing some mountains into a completely different part of central Thailand. Chandler heard a motor bike and decided to go down the road a little further to see if he could find someone else to talk to while I rested.
Chandler met a kid who basically understood we wanted to cross the lake. He led us back to the abandoned ferry landing and after about ten minutes of hand motions, pictionary type drawings of ferries, and some horrendously mispronounced Thai we figured out that a ferry would come whenever a car showed up on the other side of the lake, maybe today sometime.
After an hour or so, the ferry showed up with a single car on it. The operator motioned that he would leave at two o’clock, in about twenty minutes, and took off on his scooter. We sat on the ferry and he returned around 2:20. “No car” he said. “OK, we’ll wait” Chandler said. “No car” he held up two fingers, “baht”. There were no cars, and we hadn’t seen a car on our side in the few hours we had been there so we agreed and essentially chartered the ferry to cross just for us for 200 baht, around $7 USD. The ride took about a half hour, and now we were back on track.
While waiting we broke into our food stash and discovered a new snack, which hasn’t caught on in the states yet. Chocolate Cheetos!
We rode the last 7 km or so going up and down steep hills until we finally made it to the National Park entrance.
We paid our foreigner entrance fee of 200 baht each, rode up one final huge hill and pitched our tent in a huge grass field overlooking the reservoir, right next to the Mae Khumin waterfall. We went for a swim in one of the waterfall pools then had a basic, but very good dinner at the park restaurant (same prices as anywhere else, less than 100 baht for dinner for two). Then some rest.