The rest of our time on Samui was punctuated with heavy downpours of rain. We used this to our advantage and, rather than lolloping in the sun we got out and about on the island. When the rain had cleared we visited the two main waterfalls on the island; Na Muang Waterfalls (1 and 2). They are easy to reach if you have your own transport by following the ring road around from Chaweng, through Lamai and on a little further, you will reach Waterfall 2 first and if you drive another couple of minutes you will see a signpost for Waterfall 1. Na Muang Waterfall 1 is the larger of the two but number 2 cascades over three smaller tiers and is more set up for tourists. Naturally we went to number 1 first. We drove right in, past the man at the main entrance tooting his whistle and telling us to stop (we had been warned that this man was infact scamming tourists to park on his land and walk when in fact you can drive much further up and park in a larger car park for 20 baht (I think). The waterfall is a short easy walk away followed by a bit of a scramble down over some rocks. The waterfall itself is high and quite picturesque, but the pool at the bottom seemed a bit green, a bit murky and not inviting at all. Maybe this was the weather, having only just finished raining. After taking the obligatory happy-couple-at-the-waterfall pictures we went off in search of a jungle path that we had heard would lead you to another ‘better’ section of the waterfall. After crossing the base of the waterfall we found an old metal staircase with missing steps and plants and tree roots growing through it in an obstacle course that lead us up the cliff face to the top of the waterfall. We stumbled across a worn pathway through the bushes and started to follow, walking alongside the river that lead to the waterfall, heading up and away from Waterfall 1 and in the direction of Waterfall 2. After about 20 minutes of walking we started to have our doubts that we would find anything; the worn pathway had all but disappeared and the surroundings started to get more jungle-y. The weather had cleared up by now and it was getting hot and humid, and we weren’t prepared for finding ourselves on an accidental jungle trek – no water, crappy shoes, no map… Paranoia started to set in as the jungle got more jungle-y and the bushes got more bush-y and the worn track got less worn-y; talk turned to that of creepy crawlies, and literally just as we were discussing the fact of “I’m sure snakes sleep in the shade at this time of day”, Tom almost walked smack bang into a green snake that was hanging across the ‘pathway’ at waist height. Well, that was enough for me, and we gave up on our jungle trek and headed back down to the original waterfall, this time armed with sticks and a very much heightened sense of awareness that we were very much in the territory of many snake-like things. At one point I freaked out over what turned out to be part of an old coconut, and visions of more snakes and spiders and things in the undergrowth and the trees above filled my head. As we reached the old staircase back down the cliff we bumped into a couple of travellers in search of the same elusive ‘better’ waterfall. We wished them luck and headed back down the cliff and off to Waterfall 2.
Na Muang Waterfall 2 is about a 10 minute scooter ride from number 1 and is definitely more set up for tourists, with market stalls and drink sellers lining the walk up to the waterfall. Number 2 also sits alongside Na Muang Safari Park and so there are often elephant rides passing through the area and you can feed and pet an elephant at the entrance if that is your thing. There is also a separate area where they keep a tiger and a leopard which is set up specifically for the stereotypical here’s me and a tiger photographs – you have to pay for this and as usual the methods used to keep the animals docile are questionable, but it looked clean and again if that is your thing then you can do that too. The actual waterfall is a further 10-15 minute uphill trek (on roads this time, not through jungle!) but you can pay for a ride in a 4×4 or on a pick up. We had plenty of time and were still feeling adventurous so we chose to walk, and by the time we reached the waterfall we were hot and sweaty and ready for a dip. The bottom tier of the waterfall is the section where you can swim – it was quite small and quite busy, I can imagine that on certain days you may have to sit around and wait for there to be space to get in (without sitting on top of a fellow pool-dipper). The water was clear and cool and refreshing, but be warned that this small pool goes very deep and the pressure of the waterfall creates a current underneath, so weak swimmers like myself should definitely take care – I ended up hanging onto to Tom’s neck and once again what could have been a romantic dip turned into me avoiding having a panic attack, stopping my face getting wet and generally floundering about.
When we had finished at the waterfalls we quickly nipped to visit the mummified monk – one of the benefits of my having spent so much time on the island before was that I had done all the annoying back and forth searching for things last time and this time I could locate things pretty easily. The mummified monk sits in Wat Khunaram, on the opposite side of the road from the waterfalls and about 10 minutes back towards Chaweng. Before coming to Samui I was obsessed with the mummified monk and when we finally managed to visit it I was a bit underwhelmed to be honest. But still, we were there so I took Tom so that he too can say that he has seen the mummified monk. What I don’t get is why they have to put cheap fake RayBans on his face, it’s just weird.
As I’m recounting what we did on the island I think that I am mixing up what we did when, and I think I’m writing a bit too much… apologies.
Also, while I’m having a break from rabbiting on I thought I should probably explain the difference between the Thai year 2556 and the year 2013. Because Buddhism is believed to have originated 543 BC, their calendar is 543 years ahead of ours. When I noticed this, it was an entertaining fact for about 5 seconds filled with technically we are living in the future thoughts.
Anyway, New Years Eve 2556 was upon us and we had bought tickets to get a speedboat across to Koh Phangnan to go to its famous full moon party (although technically not on a full moon). We had our UV outfits sorted (standard procedure for a full moon party) and I had my rave-face kit with me (loose glitter, and lots of it). Unfortunately, the Weather Gods had different plans for us, and decided to downpour on the island with torrential force. We had been out visiting the Big Buddha and after sheltering in a restaurant waiting for the rain to stop we finally admitted defeat and drove home in the horrific downpour. The roads were flooding, we were soaking wet and we were running out of time to get back to the hostel, get showered, glittered up and on the boat. We got back to the hostel and ran up to the room to get ready in record time, but this time the Power Gods had different ideas for us – the storm had knocked out all the electric to the island and out hostel didn’t have a generator. Finally realising why we had a stack of candles provided in the room I went to have a candle-lit shower; only the water is pumped up using an electric pump so there was no water either. After mildly panicking and padding downstairs wearing just a towel to confirm that indeed, no one else had electric or water either. Undeterred, I settled for a wet wipe wash, scraped by my rain soaked hair and got ready in the dark. It was reminiscent of a wet Glastonbury.
Now it was the turn for the Transport Gods to be against us. After waiting for 2 and a half hours, the mini bus was not arriving to collect anyone. We had heard that the speedboats weren’t able to leave the island either. Having waited all that time and having drunk all of our beers, we admitted defeat once again and headed to Ark Bar with our ticket refunds in our pockets. We had an OK New Year, but I guess we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t make it to the full moon party. It’s still on my Thailand to-do list so I guess we will have to head back over there another time and keep our fingers crossed that the Gods will be on our side this time.
New Year’s Day would be our last on the island, and we spent it riding the scooter the whole way around the ring road, stopping off at different spots along the way. The weather had finally cleared up so we were happy to spend our last day on holiday out in the sunshine before heading home and back to school, ready to face the New Year of 2556.
WordPress is being silly and won’t let me include pictures in this post so I will post them separately 🙂