Journey to the Mystery Waterfall

Sometimes you start a journey with a destination in mind and find out along the way, that it’s really not the destination that matters. It’s what happens along the way.

On a gorgeous weekend afternoon, after lounging in the sun at our new apartment for a little bit, the three of us—me, Sam and our friend Dave who teaches in Pak Penang—headed out on our bikes for an adventure in the nearby mountains. Ai Kheow Waterfall (pronounced Eye-Key-Oh) was our destination. We checked the map and departed for our goal around 1 in the afternoon.

Zipping off on the bikes we headed north-ish. First stop, roadside ice cream. Dave, with an insatiable craving for something cold and sweet on our sweltering afternoon, flagged down a mobile Nestle ice cream truck. The great thing about Thailand is you can always find move-able food. I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog about Thai food.

Moving along, ice cream craving satiated, we hit Road 4141, which, according to the map, would lead us right into the waterfall. West-ish was our direction. Drunk from the heat and our own confidence in our destination, we drove fearlessly toward the mountains, assuming the road would halt right at the cliff-side just before plunging headlong into the waterfall.

Except the road forked. Hmm… 

Alright. We took a left. That direction looked promising. Not sure what road we were on, but still confident of our direction, we motored past juicy green foliage and some of the tallest trees I’ve ever seen. Quaint green-domed mosques, men in white robes walking along gravel road, women riding side-saddle on the backs of puttering motorcycles, local folks sitting in clusters of threes and fours on concrete patios before their front door, enjoying the lazy Saturday afternoon.

We passed jungles drenched in the golden light of the afternoon sun.

We rode along winding curves, not needing to shout over the loud rumble of the motorcycles but pointing and nodding in certain directions. Just along the road past the intersection we spotted a small roadside stand with large glass Fanta bottles filled near brimming with lemon-colored liquid. Gasoline. Vendors often sell liters of fuel from recycled soda bottles, displayed on simple stands outside minimarts or on the concrete picnic tables outside their own homes.Motorcycle trapped in the jungle

Quick fill-up then a nod in the direction of the small restaurant across the street. Ice cream long gone, a new hunger crept in. The restaurant looked cozy with a few tables outside, plenty of foliage surrounding the rim of the outdoor patio and a warm interior decorated in a country-home style. The owner introduced herself eagerly before we could dismount the bikes. A Muslim woman, named Forida (Four-EE-dah), dressed head to toe in a yellow sequined matching dress and headscarf. With open arms she showed us to the table near the water fountain on her patio. Forida doted on us like we were nephews and nieces returned from a long overseas journey. In some ways, I felt it was true. She reminded me of an aunt back home, her warm smile and insistence on making sure we left with full bellies and a light, jovial spirit. We noshed on Islam-style noodles, roti (similar to Naan bread) and curries, thanking her generously, promising to return again with friends.  Remembering our waterfall destination, we headed back out again.

By now it was 4 o’clock. Ai Kheow, however, seemed elusive but we motored on anyway, presumably in the direction recommended by the map as well as locals who muttered Ai Kheow and pointed the same direction.

But after awhile, we figured the road to the waterfall had been obscured by foliage. Little to no signage would make the waterfall nearly impossible to find in the waning afternoon sun.

Just along the side of the road, we passed a sign for Wang Lung Waterfall. Wang Lung. Not Ai Kheow. ‘Well,’ we thought, ‘it’s does say it’s a waterfall. Not the one we originally intended, but still a new destination.’

The winding road toward Wang Lung led right into the sun just dipping behind the trees, climbed up a steep curvy hill and stopped abruptly at the hill’s precipice in a shaded parking lot. Near a wooden carved sign that read “Wang Lung, Two Hearts” in Thai script, a short concrete path raced down to a wide opening in the rocks where a stream trickled across the path. Footprints led us away from the path and followed the stream to the edge of the rocks where it sloped gently down toward another waterfall. The stream from our path joined with the other rushing waterfall at the base of the rocks. The ‘joining’ of two hearts.

Just before twilight could engulf the surrounding jungle, we skidded off along the path leading into the woods, pausing to inspect the coconuts strapped to the nearby rubber trees that were collecting a sticky, white glue-like substance.

Back at the waterfall, we sat on the edge of the rocks, watching the sunset drip a sherbet pink and orange across the clouds above the water rushing its way toward a lower elevation. The crickets and other apiary friends provided a chattering soundtrack to our sunset.

We’d made it.

No, not to our original destination. But in the creeping crepuscular evening, it seemed that arriving at the destination wasn’t the point. We’d left together. Made a few friends along the way. Arrived together and enjoyed the journey together. Mission accomplished.


About KShaw

English teacher in Thailand. Global Traveler. Amateur linguist. Reader. Writer. Photographer. Musician. Friend.
This entry was posted in The Side Paths and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Journey to the Mystery Waterfall

  1. vern says:

    no pics of the waterfall then?

  2. Uh… wow.. what a fantastic opportunity and journey, as well as fantastic pics. Love that true. Isn’t it funny how, no matter where we go, we can find a way to be reminded by someone of someone we know and love?

  3. GORGEOUS pictures — looks like quite the adventure! 🙂

  4. blessmyloveb says:

    Simply Great! Loved it….

  5. I totally agree sometimes it is about what happens along the way that is more the adventure then the adventure itself. Congrats on being FP!

  6. Wonderful pictures, great trip – thanks for sharing it 😉

  7. It was a very pleasant read. Yes, I will be looking forward to seeing more of the next blogs on mobile Thai food. Great story into your life for a day and into a beautiful country……thanks for sharing.

  8. Oh my gosh! That sounds like an awesome adventure!! The very fact that you got to eat road-side ice cream and then head into the jungle all at the same time is amazing! 🙂

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  9. praveen says:

    loved that first tree pic.. great shot..

  10. l0ve0utl0ud says:

    Wonderful post about a very interesting adventure! Love your last paragraph…

  11. Great point. Thank you for sharing the journey.

  12. Christine says:

    To travel hopefully is better than to arrive. Thailand is full of adventures like this.

  13. ocularity says:

    Stunning photos of a stunning area that I will, alas, probably never see. Your text is as lush as the undergrowth; thank you for sharing.

  14. Kristina says:

    Great story – thanks for sharing! Completely reminds me of this lighthouse I went looking for at Eluthera earlier this summer. It’s one of those things we just heard about when we arrived there (the lodging had a guest diary and someone mentioned a lighthouse beach) and we rented a car to go trek out to it. Took a couple of hours, but boy was it worth it.

  15. ditchthebun says:

    I adore the final photo! Magnificent sky scene, I’m a huge fan of good sky scape photos!!! So glad your journey felt fulfilled, sometimes it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.

  16. Ron Armacost says:

    Great post, what is it with the Asian Culture’s that remains with one for life. My fondest memories are with China, but I’d love to visit Thailand. Thanks for sharing and congrats on freshly pressed.

  17. RLTJ'srod says:

    It’s that Strangler Tree again. [2nd frame] They always catch attention. Eerie, mysterious, intriguing, revered, feared, ugly, beautiful, anything, to a beholder. The one in the picture looks young.

    They usually grow on ruins. In the thick forest, their chance of survival is when they grow on tree tops where they nourish until their roots have dropped to the ground. As the roots grow they envelope the host tree [can be seen] until it assumes the form of its host. The oldest of them look big, with a hollow in them where host used to be. What looks like trunk is actually roots formed around the host, thus the name.

  18. I would like to know more about the animals of the forests where you visited the waterfall. Are there dangerous creatures out there?


  19. iamkim29 says:

    nature is really wonderful!

  20. rayzapark says:

    Good for you! Is the white liquid the raw material of making rubber?

  21. Huffygirl says:

    What an entertaining adventure, and nicely written. Great photo of the amazing tree. Congratulations on being FP’d!

  22. Great post! The waterfall you ended up at sounds so beautiful “Wang Lung, Two Hearts”, I think the universe exceeded your expectations and showed you a path and waterfall you would be so inspired about that you would tell others about it! God bless! Keep writing.

  23. Pamanner says:

    Beautiful journey. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Love the pics!

  24. Pamanner says:

    But now I want ice cream by a waterfall at sunset 😉

  25. gaycarboys says:

    Fabulous pics. Your brave riding into the forest on the putt-putt bikes. Good for you though. I’ve done a couple of round the world odysseys but all were pre digital cameras and I’m too lazy to scan. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts , your trip, and your pics with us.

  26. Hi! I enjoyed reading this post. I’ll be going to Thailand myself later this year. Is this waterfall near Bangkok? We plan to rent a motorcycle to get around. Would you know how much that would cost, say for one whole day? 🙂
    Thanks for making this post! Cheers to more travels!

  27. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful trip, and beautifully described. Now you’ve got me wanting a bike . . .

  28. Sarah says:

    P.S. Your butterfly photo leaves me breathless. Wow.

  29. avantourists says:

    I always like to think that fixing a destination is just a cover anyway, to have a motivation to move. But the same time actually reaching your destination shouldnt be that much of a goal anyway. Its the roadside that matters.

    • KShaw says:

      motivation to move. I love that thought. I think that’s what life is about-movement. Not arriving, just moving, and discovering while moving. Thank you for the comment!

  30. I love the journey and the memories it brings…good stuff!

  31. Ian Bood says:

    that was great journey, maybe someday you wanna travel to Indonesia, there is a lot of exotic place there, i guarantee that you will not disappointed , heheh….. manstap gan!! 🙂

  32. Look like a wonderful trip. I like the big and high tree in photo, it’s nice shot.

  33. ukate says:

    Absolutely spectacular photos – thank you so much for sharing them with us! And I couldn’t agree more – sometimes the best adventures are the unplanned ones on the way to plans. Congrats on being FP and for your discoveries!


  34. E. He says:

    I hope one day I can come across that gigantic tree in your photograph. It’s stunning.

  35. It is a beautiful journey, which you have described. The photos are great!

  36. Sherbert is a delicious flavor of Sun.

  37. Love the photos. Can’t wait to hear what you do next.

  38. roeyani says:

    nice trip.. 🙂

  39. Yes, your butterfly photo is amazing! I was hoping for a waterfall photo, as well…
    And your writing style is captivating. I am moved to read more…

  40. Paul Miller says:

    Did you ever discover what the goop was in the coconut shell?

  41. Jen Letts says:

    Enjoy the journey – good philosophy no matter what continent your feet are standing on!

  42. Sankar R K says:

    Impossibly large tree was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  43. PrettyGee says:

    Nicely presented! Congrats on being FP!

  44. Sajeevs blog says:

    The pictures of the canopy and the evening red hue in the sky are awesome 🙂

  45. Rai says:

    What a wonderful adventure =)

  46. Beautifully told story, and stunning pictures. Yes, I agree that it’s not always the destination that matters, but what happens along the way. Congrats on being Pressed!

  47. bintangzohra says:

    Hello Mr, I like to see the waterfall photo, oh ye, the Muslim woman name actually is Faridah…;-)
    -love from Singapore

  48. I like the photo of the tree =) stunning angle.

  49. Beautiful photography! 🙂

  50. Trivi says:

    Awesome! May be thats why we say “Happy Journey” and never say “Happy Destination”. Its the Journey that counts. The experince that counts. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. Keep blogging

  51. MasterMind secret of LOA says:

    Interesting blog. I particularly like the picture of the tree. Its amazing how just a journey to a waterfall can become interesting enough to read.

  52. Anita Mac says:

    Cool. You are so right – the journey is just as important. Sounds like a great day out.

  53. nomad says:

    thailand looks pretty similar to kerala, India.

  54. anelek says:

    I loved this post! Makes my mind travel along!

    thank you!

  55. newsy1 says:

    You are so right, it’s not the destination but the trip. Fantastic photos and story.

  56. bensten says:

    Great integration of photos with narrative. Most intrigued by the “two hearts” metaphor. Would love to see a picture of that sign…

  57. Stubborn says:

    WOW…beautiful photos. Thanks for posting…

  58. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    Very cool! What a blessing to have the opportunity to take such a journey!

  59. goose-jacket says:

    What a wonderful trip

  60. melanielovesalligators says:

    I love your banner too!


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