So what do you do when not diving in Khao Lak; Obviously have a beer or two and then come up with the grand idea of an outing to do some touristy stuff and find a waterfall.
Located inland from Bang Niang (just North of Khao Lak) you can find Tonchongfa Waterfall approximately 7km from the main road. There is only one direct route in so take in the scenery as you drive along, also watch out for the pot-holes that seem to appear as though an invisible trap door has just been opened.
Spattered along the route in, you can see various plantations with trees all lined up in unison (I’m assuming for harvest or in replacement for those that have already been harvested), various scenic backdrops with locals working the fields, distant hills rising up covered in jungle foliage and the sun doing its best to make such an amazing countryside shine and show its full range of natural beauty.
As you approach the entrance to the park the barrier miraculously descends, assisted by the chap in the obligatory booth waiting to lighten your wallet. Quite frankly I didn’t mind this until I noticed that my two Thai mates got entrance fees of 20 Baht instead of the “Foreign” charge of 200!!
Anyway mini rant over; It’s a nice easy start to the walk and gradually you start to ascend into the jungle, on a day like today you will feel the humidity increase as you disappear under the canopy of the tall trees and surrounding jungle foliage.
Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for the small push-through footpaths to the left, the 3 mates I was with where so focused on smashing it to the top that they missed opportunities like this one……
Continuing on and the gradient steepens, as the humidity is turned up another notch, a welcoming sign informs you that you are half way to the start of the falls. REMEMBER, keep your eyes open, hidden among the fallen leaves you may be lucky enough to see some small camera-shy lizards who scamper at Billy Whizz speed into the bush as soon as you try to take a photo. You will also see formations of various types of ants (in their usual military fashion) following one another back and forth. Take a peak through the shrub towards the river too, we managed to spot a large Monitor Lizard bathing in the sunshine on top of the large boulders which line the rivers path.
The first of the falls that you arrive at are accessed by a small bridge formed from the trunk of a tree leading over to the water’s edge and the flat boulders through which the river winds its way. Not a bad start to the touristy bit as its pretty impressive in size and falls into a decent sized pool and the water clarity is as pure as you can imagine.
Whilst sat on the boulders and dipping the feet it became apparent that the resident fish are quite partial to ones feet! To be honest, it tickles like hell but once you get used to it and after 15-20 minutes you’ll have feet as smooth as a babies bum!
There is also a small area of sandy river bed if you fancy taking the plunge. Be warned though; This is mountain water and although the temptation is at its max following the sauna walk, the water is indeed as cold as an Eskimos nose!
Just to the right of the waterfall a sign points through the ascending jungle along the pathway indicating further adventures await you. The path itself is not paved, it cuts through the sand/soil base and utilizes tree roots as stepping-stones. If you (like Lida) have short legs then this can be quite a climb, although the parks employees have placed bows between the trees which reminded me of being a small child attempting to climb my Gran’s stairs and clinging on for grim death. OK, OK, don’t panic, it’s an adventure and no adventure is worthy of the title without a little effort; get those little legs into practice.
Displaying their very obvious Belbin-like Task orientated attitudes, both Glenn & Ping where off like Greyhounds chasing a piece of felt at the Wimbledon dog track, whilst Short Legged Lida & Tourist Mode Matt sauntered on behind.
I loved this bit of the climb; having lived a bare-footed lifestyle for nearly four years I was super keen to ditch the clumsy Flip-Flops and use my feet by design. In my mind it added to the adventure.
Along this section you find a few steep descents back to the river – TAKE YOUR TIME IT CAN BE SLIPPY – you have been warned. Seeing as the Greyhounds had shot off past the pathways we continued on until we reached the next level where the boys had already plonked down to take in the natural beauty of the place. We spent a good 45 minutes here, not saying a lot, just taking it all in – the falling water, the smell of its purity (a far cry from the aroma experienced in the urban jungle), the sunlight beaming through the high canopy and of course, the sounds; the odd bird or two chattering on, the flow of the water and indeed the tumbling and crashing sounds that you would imagine from a rapid and continuous descent of tons upon tons of the stuff.
Whilst my 3 companions sat on one side of the falls I crossed over for more touristy snaps, eventually parking my butt next to some slower moving water forming rock pools. Thankfully I didn’t sit on this little fella as he struggled against all odds and the force of the water resisting his own little adventurous climb…..
Time To Make A Move
Time was ticking away so we started our descent; Yet again Team Greyhound shot away completely oblivious to the pathway they had ignored on the way up. Obviously Short Legs & Tourist had other ideas. We descended down the walkway (if you can call it that) to yet another waterfall, with the river meandered over and around rocks & boulders for another 45m before reaching the top of the initial waterfall we had come across. In my opinion this was arguably the best spot, judge for yourself….
Having caught up with the lads we sauntered on down back through the humid sauna trail heading for our trusty steeds & a return to reality, after all beer o’clock was looming rather rapidly.We decided that the only viable option was to re-hydrate with such fluids whilst watching more water working its magic.