A Tale of 3 Waterfalls Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Traveling through the Isaan countryside in Ubon Ratchathani can sometimes seem to be a boring affair. You will see rice fields, villages and temples, again and again. Is it just a means to an end or is there more than meets the eye?

On a road trip to visit three waterfalls in Ubon Ratchathani I had never seen before took me through the flat farmlands of rural Isaan. It could be just like a commute in the city finding ways to distract myself from the noise, pollution and crowding. People walking down the sidewalks alone or in small groups in trance-like bubbles going from point A to point B treating the other pedestrians as obstacles.

People in cars or taxis listening to music or talk radio lost in a distant dream of being somewhere else. All on their way to that 4-walled prison that never changes from day to day.

I kept my eyes open on the ride and noticed some amazing sights. The naturally beautiful green of the rice fields at this time of year, blended perfectly with the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds.

The small villages created islands in the sea of rice paddies that dominated the area. At the center of each village was a temple that reflected the personality and wealth of that particular community.

Grandma, with a sarong tightly wrapped around her frail waist was busy washing up, perhaps just finishing breakfast. Barefoot children playing with their dogs or chasing each other around would pause at the sight of a white face, some would smile and wave others would simple stare.

Along the way on the road there are frequent encounters with buffalo and cattle, the highway being a path to their next grazing area. Children dressed in their uniforms walking or waiting for transportation to a place of education. Machinery to and from the workplace in the rice fields, the driver in no hurry. His boss is mother nature and his look gave confidence that he knows what she wants and needs to make a good harvest.

Huai Sai Yai The First Waterfall

formerly (GaengĀ  ei Kieow)

After passing through the small community of Buntharik, it was time to keep a lookout for the roads to the local waterfall. Several stops were made to query locals as any signs pointing the way were unseen or non-existent and trusting the road map can easily lead to a nightmare.

Finally, the way was found and there was no doubt we had arrived as the road came to an end on the edge of the jungle. The area was deserted, probably because it was a weekday morning and most people were working or in school. No signs pointing the way to the waterfall so had to follow instinct that led down the beaten path towards the sound of water.

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My first impression took me back to my wild teen days. I was reminded of secluded places on local creeks hidden deep in the forest. Places where nature created pools deep enough for diving and jumping plus provided large boulders for those activities or sunbathing. There was always the inevitable worn old rope hanging from a solid branch of a sturdy century old oak tree.

This was the type of place you love to spend summer days and sometimes nights. A place to sneak a few cold beers or just outright party. A place to awkwardly flirt or attempt to show off for the groups of girls wearing bikini tops and cut-off shorts. A place not overwhelming or exceptional but special in it’s own right.

The waterfall itself is not so high, maybe 3 meters. It does provide entertainment in the form of water flow music and water flow dance. It is a wonderful place to watch the show and pop the top on a cold one or just take your time enjoying nature and a nice picnic lunch.

I noticed we weren’t alone. A high school couple, dressed in their sport uniforms were sitting on the rocks across and above the fall. I think they were hoping for some time alone to do what young lovers do. When they saw the cameras they made a hasty exit. If I had been in their shoes I know I would have suffered some disappointment. But there will be other days for them I am sure.

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