Shortly after returning from Laos, Ploy decides she wants to go see a waterfall in Chiang Rai province. I’m really surprised by this. Ploy isn’t an outdoors savant. I’m thrilled by the prospect and we invite a recently arrived young American girl from Utah (Briel) along. Ploy uses the ever trusty Google to find general directions to the waterfall and I take the driver’s seat. We bump along happily, stopping by 7-11 for breakfast (of champions!) and motor along. As we make a turn off the main highway and toward the park, smoke erupts from underneath the hood of the Honda Civic. I immediately pull over and pop the hood. I grimace when I see that this billowing steam was caused by human error.
I forgot to put the radiator cap back on properly. Even though Ploy and Briel reassure me that it’s no big deal, I kick myself around. “I really shouldn’t be allowed to drive other people’s cars.” I tell myself. Of course, I’m not surprised this happened. You see, there’s an atypical side-effect of the hurly-burly of a loved one’s passing in my life. I become inexplicably clumsy. I operate on fumes and am disoriented without realizing it. When a father figure died, I managed to trip and fall for the first time ever on a running route I’d been running for months without priors. I had to dig asphalt out of my right palm and elbow.
On the trip to Laos, I managed to drop my camera lens for the first time ever in the life of the lens. Eventually, the zoom stopped working (I was fortunate enough to still manage photos.). I feel a subtle emotional vertigo as we stare at the dissipating steam. I distract myself from those feelings by checking out a local’s bonsai garden. I’m in no condition to be at the helm of anything. Ploy calls her dad to let him know what happened, and eventually he shows up in a different vehicle. A local fills up the Civic’s radiator with water. The cars are switched. Ploy decides to take the wheel the rest of the way. Perhaps it’s a good thing this mishap occurred. The replacement vehicle is a Toyota Land Cruiser much more suited to the rural roads of Thailand. Pu Kaeng Waterfall is supposed to be very pretty but all we have to go on is a small picture in a Lonely Planet guidebook. For this trip, I’m relying on my 1:1 macro lens (the only other lens I own) for photos. We arrive at what we assume is the waterfall but are surprised that it’s so tiny.
It doesn’t match what’s in the guidebook. Eventually we notice that the trail continues past this waterfall. The three of us walk on, hoping that wherever we go isn’t a disappointment. We hit a second waterfall, and a third. We see what’s in the guidebook and more. After the 4th waterfall, Ploy heads back to the car as she’s had her fill of walking. Briel and I decide to keep going because we’re starting to get the idea that the farther you go, the better the waterfalls. 9 waterfalls later, we decide to turn back before we hit the top of the mountain.