Birthday Weekend Camping

This past weekend was Ethan’s birthday (now two weekends ago.) Yay! Happy birthday Ethan!! 25 years young! (E- My Darren McCarty birthday!!) We decided it would be a great weekend to FINALLY camp at the national park near us – Nanthaburi National Park. If you recall, we had been briefly once and the second time we tried to go we got a flat tire. We were determined to go there and actually spend the night!

it was a tough trek to the waterfall

Friday night almost everyone who was going hung out by the river in Thawangpha to start Ethan’s birthday celebration. We didn’t stay out too late though so we could get up and get going to the park in the morning. Ethan and Jeff (the guy from Canada that we met last weekend. He decided to come check out what Nan province had to offer) got up early to watch the Red Wings game. The Wings won and as soon as it was over we headed out. Before we left TWP we were joined by our friends from Pua, Tristan and Kelly and Caitlin C from Nan city. We stopped at the market for lunch and snacks before we left, which was supposed to be a short trip. It ended up taking over an hour, but eventually we headed west toward the park. It took us a long time to get up there because we took two long breaks to wait for people to catch up and to eat.

the waterfall was well worth it

Right before the second break Jeff and Josie (teaches in Wiang Sa near Nan), who were on the same bike, ended up doing a wheely somehow and Caitlin C saw a huge snake that snapped at her bike. She is pretty sure it was a king cobra….YIKES!! (E- King Cobras can kill elephants with one bite. Not too shabby! I’m super jealous we missed it!) Luckily, no one was injured or bitten and we made it to the park (and we didn’t get a flat tire!!). We rented three huts for the night and dropped our stuff in them before heading out for the waterfall that was about a 2km walk away. The walk didn’t feel very far, but it was actually kind of hard and really steep. Toward the end we ended up using a vine to help ourselves down a particularly steep portion. Amateur repelling if you will. We made it down to the waterfall, but dreaded having to go back up. The fall was really pretty, but the water was really cold and the area was shaded, which added to the coldness so I didn’t swim. All the girls, except brave Caitlin C, chatted on the rocks, while Ethan and Jeff explored the jungle. It was very relaxing and B.E.A-utiful! As expected, the climb back up was torture and my legs still hurt from it – out of shape? YES. When we got back we put warm clothes on and chilled in the beautiful camping area to watch the sunset. The camping area is a large flat grassy area on the very top of a hill. You have an amazing almost-360 degree view of the surrounding area. The sunset was phenomenally picturesque and we snapped plenty of artsy, Instagram worthy shots.

interesting night with locals

After the sun went to bed, Ethan, Jeff, Caitlin and Kristin went into the tiny little village nearby for some grub, while the rest of us stayed back and tried to tend to the weak campfire the rangers had started. Our efforts were to no avail though, even with Josie’s expert camp fire building skills. We also didn’t try very hard to find smaller sticks to get it going with, but we’re girls…what’d ya expect? It was dark. The others returned with soup and som tam (papaya salad) and the lady even gave us bowls, plates and utensils to borrow! We ate and then the boys (with Josie’s help) built a glorious fire, which lasted until we went to bed. Great fire building on their part. We spent the night chatting about Thailand, teaching, life and all sorts of things. Ethan and Jeff made friends with the head park ranger and a few other Thai folks. A couple a rangers joined our camp fire and we attempted to have conversations with them all night, but it usually just ended awkwardly because we couldn’t understand them. They did show us how to roast sticky rice like a marshmallow though, but I didn’t really care for it. Eventually we were told we were being to loud and we tried for a while to stay quiet, but when you put a bunch of good friends at a fire who have had a little “liquid encouragement”…. you end up with loud voices. We decided we’d better get to bed before people got mad and so that ended our night. We had to whisper the happy birthday song to Ethan at midnight – not nearly as fun as belting it out obnoxiously.

tired after a less than stellar sleep

When we rented the huts we were thinking that they would be warmer than a tent, but what we didn’t think about was how what we’d be sleeping on. The huts came with blankets, pillows and paper thin mats to sleep on and I don’t think anyone slept well – except Cait C. I was sleeping on top of two comforters and still wasn’t comfy – it was rough. We really wanted to watch the sun rise in the morning, but 6am came a bit too fast. Fortunately (& unfortunately), it was cloudy so we couldn’t actually watch the sunrise. This is unfortunate because we want to bike to the top of the mountain, but decided against it because there wouldn’t be a good view with all the clouds. So we ended up having chatting over coffee and hot chocolate in the “kitchen” area. The way back down the mountain was much easier – no wheelies and no snakes! We all got lunch together and parted ways.

a beautiful sunset and a gorgeous moonrise behind us

I don’t think we’ll ever be able to say that we celebrated our birthdays swimming at waterfalls or camping on top of mountains again. So, even though having a birthday abroad is bittersweet without our families and friends, I am certainly glad we got to spend ours with the good friends we’ve made exploring the great outdoors in the lovely land of Thai!

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