Thailand / The Islands / Travel Writing

Lost in Translation: Klong Chao Waterfall

Our journey up the river was intended to bring us to the road where taxis pick up passengers, and our goal was a little waterfall about a kilometer and a half from where we were.  So, we arrived at the “intersection” and found… very little traffic.  And very little intersection.

waterfall-roadbridge

And the signage was… less than helpful to these westerners…

Yes, after a bit of a wait, the nine of us and our Captain Dmitri, we did try to call the Captain Hook Resort to see if we could get a taxi sent out to us.  No reception.  Ok then…

We talked to some ladies who scootered by, who were very kind and concerned for us, and through the language barrier we think we got agreement that they would send a taxi our way if they ran into one up the road.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It was really hard to tell.

One truck came by, and Dmitri flagged him down to ask for a ride – yep, it’s come to flagging down random trucks driving by.  No dice on that one.

But then a second truck came by, and Dmitri flagged them down.  Now, Dmitri speaks Russian.  And he knows a bit of Thai and some English.  As their discussion progresses, Our host gets involved, with his English and a bit of Thai.  My hubby goes over for… moral support.  And while you and I know he’s a big teddy bear, he can look intimidating at times, so he goes over to supervise.

There’s pointing, with one word sentences.  When phones get whipped out, we know we’re getting somewhere.  There’s no reception, but phones and calculators are universally used to punch in numbers and show back and forth to haggle prices.  This, we have already learned in Thailand.  This is getting somewhere!

As the negotiations seem to draw to a close, we are motioned to load up into the truck.

This is probably a good time to introduce you to the catchphrase for this vacation.  Ready?  The phrase that you will hear a lot – because I certainly heard it a lot in my head, and will be sharing it with you as we go along, is, “I’m sure it’ll be fine!”

I’m sure it’ll be fine!

You may want to practice once or twice.  Get it good comfortable in your head.  Because, I have to tell you, I said it a LOT.  One more time… “I’m sure it’ll be fine!”  Pretty good.  Don’t worry, it’ll roll right off your tongue by the time we’re done with Thailand.

We pile into the truck, my hostess and I exchanging glances over the kids heads… Seriously, this is ok, right?  Right.  We’re going to follow the guys leads.  And then to the kids “Yeah, hop in, it’ll be fine.  Dmitri and the Dads worked it out.”  In my head, Let’s review… when stranded on the back roads of a foreign country, feel free to flag down random trucks with men driving who don’t speak your language, and through much gesticulating assume you agree on where you are going, and hop in and go with them!  This really is an educational trip for the children.

The ride takes on all new excitement in the truck.  Seatbelts?  There’s no seatbelts.  Be thankful for seats.  Really hard wooden slat benches – and hold on to something.  Seriously kids, hold on to something!  And we seem to be going pretty fast.  Aaahhh!  We really are going pretty fast here!

We think we’re going to a waterfall about a kilometer and a half up the road.  There’s the sign for the waterfall!  Wait.  We’re passing the turn… Wait!  Um…  How concerned should we be that we just shot past the turn for the waterfall??

I’m sure it’ll be fine!

Katie whips out the phone and pipes up, “I have reception!… I’m checking Google maps.”

waterfall-truck2

Yep, that’s right folks.  Here on the roads of Koh Kood, Google maps is our friend.  As we grind our way up hills, and go barreling back down the other side, as we hang on to the sides and get bumped and thrown over potholes and around bends… Google maps loads…

“Ok, I’ve got it.  Hey, there’s a hospital!”

To self:  Seriously, mental note that.

“Um, there is this other waterfall up this road.  Maybe we’re going there.”  Katie shows the map.  Ok, that’s hopeful.  Let’s see if that pans out.

waterfall-truck3

At this intersection, we turn left, and we must really be on to something.  There are two distinct signs, with English subtitles, that tell us we are headed to Khlong Chao waterfall!  Good stuff.

The total ride is something like 5 miles, and our truck pulls off the side of the road and points to a path.  People come walking out, so we think we might be in the right spot.  Or at least an ok spot.

waterfall-path1

A bit of a walk into the jungle of Koh Kood, and we come upon signs hung up between the trees, and a guy sitting at a folding table near them, with a jar for donations.  Ok, I guess this looks official.  Is this Thai for ‘official’?  I really wish I would have gotten a picture of the guy at the table, but I did get pictures of the signs.

And here, for a moment, we must appreciate the signage.  You must read this…

waterfall-sign-english

If you have trouble reading off the picture, here is exactly what the English translation says:

Waterfall Klong Chao.  The waterfall flow throughout the year with all 3 layers on top will look a stream.  The ground floor is a large stream from the waterfall.  It’s good to play significant water.  Waterfall Klong Chao.  A famous waterfall of Koh Kood.  Waterfall is a beautiful medium.  Stream flow originating for the island’s central hill flow.  10 meters high rocky cliff over which is divided into 3 floor.

This waterfall is a waterfall is considered historic.Pramonnggutglao is king.  You have come head on tour in 2454BC, when he graciously signed it. “Waterfall Onam kok” is to remember God Chiang intermediate Yuwn king.  Period for Klong Chao are playing Falls month from August to May to a beautiful waterfall and a tree species were exposed to a variety.

So, there you go then.  Kids, this is why you cannot use Google Translate for your foreign language homework.  This.  Right here.  I think there’s a real business opportunity for a translator to come in and just update the signage to non-giggle-inducing English.

As I have said, this is trip is educational.

Bouyed by the strong indicators we now have that we really are in the right place, and a waterfall is not too far into our future, we headed onward.

More path… and we’ve struck water!  We must be close!

waterfall-path2

Wait.  We hear water, but of course…  We must first climb.  Wouldn’t want it to be too easy to get to Klong Chao since this waterfall is a waterfall is considered historic.  You have come to head on tour…

waterfall-climb

As we reach the top, suddenly this adventure comes in to focus, and we realize it’s all worth it.

waterfall-view

It’s absolutely beautiful.  The waterfall steadily flows at one end, the pool is calm with people here and there swimming through or just sitting and enjoying the view.  We had come prepared to jump in if possible, so in mere moments, we were in.

We scattered through the water, mixing and matching our groups.  I stood under the waterfall, appreciating the closest thing I had had to a shower in a couple of days.  I sat with my hostess in the water in front of that little cave to the left of the falls, being hit with the spray and watching the kids play.  The kids walked the ledge under the falls, jumping off and climbing back up.  They took turns on the rope swing.  They explored the shallow cave.

And we took time to just sit on the side while we dried off and soak up the beauty and feel of the place.  Completely unforgettable.  I wish I was more gifted with words and could really communicate the joy of the kids, the relaxation and happiness of the adults, and the scenery – but you’ll either have to take my word for it, or visit yourself.

I’m sure it’ll be fine!

*****  *****

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Hitchhiking Thailand with Kids!

38 thoughts on “Lost in Translation: Klong Chao Waterfall

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    • Aw, I actually didn’t do the rope swing. Too busy swimming around and taking pics of the kids on it. Gee, I guess we have to go back.

  5. What an adventure just to reach the waterfall. I agree the waterfall is indeed very beautiful. Good to know all the trouble was worth it.

    • It really was worth it, and I’m glad it all worked out well in the end. It was all a bit worrisome in the beginning though. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! <3

    • It was amusing that everyone was armed with useless phones! 😀 But I think I was even more amused when my 16 year old was surfing google maps in the back of a pickup truck, trying to figure out if we were being kidnapped. Felt so out of place!

    • Thank you! I was very glad we were there with friends. Made the whole thing a big better. As if, it’s ok to be absconded with, as long as there were other parents there being as irresponsible as we were. 😀

  6. Hiking with kids is always a great experience! I am glad to see other interesting places from Thailand featured, besides island hopping – nothing wrong with it though 🙂

    • We were actually island hopping in a sailboat for this trip. It was amazing! Not at all the touristy, crowded, party, beach scene. Very beautiful and restful.

    • This waterfall was gorgeous, and just tailor-made for kids to explore. With the cave that wasn’t too deep for parents to worry, the waterfall with a ledge right at water level so that the kids could walk under the spray, and the rope swing – I think it was one of the favorite stops the whole vacation for my kids. Thanks for stopping by!

    • I’m so glad you felt you were there with us! 😀 It was a great time, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone considering that area of the world. Beautiful, kind people, amazing experience.

  7. Wow love the pictures, your blog is well detailed and I love it . lol sorry for the language barrier I do hope you had fun though I like such places

    • The language barrier adds some adventure, but sometimes it’s half the fun, too. I’d never let that hold me back! Thanks for stopping by. <3

    • It was a beautiful stop, I definitely recommend it. If you actually mean to go there, that’s even better! 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by, and I appreciate the tweet, bunches. <3

  8. The trek seems interesting. And it’s really cool that you can walk through to the water and then swim to the waterfall itself. I have been to many other gorgeous waterfalls but most of them are not accessible from as near.

  9. The waterfall is so beautiful. I too want to stand under the waterfall. And the best part is, the place is not crowded.

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