The Death Railway and Erawan Falls 


When I was feeling better, I walked across the Bridge over the River Kwai, which is part of “The Death Railway”. The strategic 415 km railway between Thailand and Burma was built by 230,000, Japanese enslaved, labourers and POW’s in 16 months (the original estimate according to Japanese surveyors was 5 years). Pushed beyond rational limits,  116,000 men died from starvation and disease. Thousands of headstones in Kanchanaburi’s POW cemetery read, “An allied soldier who died during the 1939-1945 war. Known unto God”.

The next day, I took a 2-hour bus ride on “the little bus that could” to Erawan Falls. It is seven-tiers of waterfalls gushing through lush forest, and a challenging trail to the top. On the trek up, I met a delightful, young Dutch girl named Hanna and we had a glorious time, also accumulated a few other hikers en route. 

People swam in the fish-filled pools of clear, glacial-blue water at the bottom of each falls. They said it tickled when the fish nibbled at their feet. Fish biting my toes when swimming in a lake has long been an irrational fear of mine, so to literally see hoards of fish doing exactly that, sent my heart racing. Finally, determined to face my fear, I psyched myself up and dipped my feet in the clear water. Immediately, fish swarmed to me and snacked on my toes. With a shriek, I withdrew. So much for overcoming my fear. 

At the next tier there was a rock slide and people were having a blast. Again, missing all the fun, I decided to dive far and shallow (over the fish), swim like a bat out of hell to the rock, slide down once, and swim back. So that’s what I did. I didn’t overcome my cowardice, but it felt great to give it a punch in the teeth.


24 responses »

  1. I love reading about the history of the sites you visit! The bridge story was so interesting, and tragic. And the fish, whoa!!! Those are daunting looking fish – I don’t think I could’ve let them nibble on me either. Way to go for trying. ❤

    • They were soooo daunting. Even bigger ones than the pics show. I couldn’t believe I made it across and back. I could feel myself brushing by them and I just swam like my life depended on it. 🙂

  2. Saw wah dee Kah Arlene! Erawan Falls…..such a treat! What do you mean??? People pay good money for fish to eat dead skin off their feet….I’m ok with fish, it’s eels that I despise. Seen any large spiders??? Sounds like a very interesting journey! Will you be going to Myanmar? I went as far as Chiang Rai. It was a bit dicey when I went. Karen rebels. I remember seeing outside Chiang Mai a funny sign on a building. It was the Poo Ping Police Station. We had a good laugh. So what are your travel plans? A few glassblowing friends of mine are leaving for Chiang Mai and an island near there. We all met the guy who runs the Pandora bead factory there and he is hosting. I wished now that I had signed up….hindsight.
    I wish you a wonderful adventure. I loved the Buddhist philosophy . The people that I met were very gentle , kind, souls.
    I’m on my way to Calgary to visit Oliver, my grandson. I am babysitting while my son and his wife have a little x- country ski getaway in Canmore. Can’t wait to see them.
    Looking forward to hearing more about this new journey.
    Love and hugs,

    • Hi Anne, lovely to hear from you. Yes, people do pay good money to have fish eat of dead skin but I’m not one of them :). Haven’t seem large spiders yet but I’m ok with spiders. Seen some ants that are as big as spiders. Going to Myanmar when I leave umphang tomorrow. Them heading up to Chang Mai and pai. Then into Cambodia and Lou’s. Have a great time in Canmore. Lots of hugs and look forward to getting together when I get back. Arlene xo

  3. Really beautiful and meaningful. Btw those fish just get rid of dead skin. But I’m wth you. I’d probably be jumping out quick. Love the natural slide!

    • Hi Sherri, ya I know the dead skin is what they eat but I couldn’t seem to do it anyway. Kept telling myself that but you know- oh well. At least I got to try the slide. Was so fun xo

  4. Amazing, Arlene! Loved the photos and, of course, the update. So glad you are feeling better. Love you. Di


  5. Arlene, good to see that you have returned to health. If you ever have the chance to see the movie, The Railway Man, with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, do take advantage. It is a really deep movie about the impact on survivor prisoners of war who survived the Japanese atrocities levelled at them. it is available on Netflix if you are able to download it somewhere. In the meantime, keep enjoying. Kxx

    • Hi Karen , I’m thrilled to have that information about the movie. I’ve never even heard of it and I will definitely see it. I also want to see the bridge over the River Kwai. That one is also about the building o ft he bridge. It was a quite a place. Thanks for reading Karen. Xo

  6. Your pictures are breathtaking.
    I’ve been sending you emails. Not sure if your receiving. Give me fast reply if their going through.
    Love you tons. Jo. Xoxo

    • Hi jo. I haven’t been getting any emails. And I can’t seem to sent them right now either. Didn’t realize until I checked and the ones I sent you haven’t gone through. Are you sending to I seem to be able to do comments but no email right now. Maybe it’s the server here. I will try again tomorrow. Just make sure you are not sending to the wanderkids account. Love you xoxo

  7. Hi Arlene
    This is Georgette.. (Lynne’s Mother)
    I think you have lots of guts and I think you sure like a hard and challenging journey. I so admire you.
    Stay safe and I look forward reading more of your adventures.
    Love Georgette..xo

    • Hello Georgette,
      I do seem to like my adventures. You never know what’s coming. There are so many awesome things to see and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Its wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for reading and I will try to keep posting interesting pictures and experiences.
      Take good care, Arlene. Xo

    • Hi Georgette,
      Lovely to hear from you. Yes, I do seem to like my adventures. So many things to see. It would be great to get together when I get back if you would like to see the pictures. Hope you are well. I certainly admire you. Thank you for reading. Take good care , Arlene

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