Heading to Kaeng Tana National Park from Ubon Rathathani proved to be yet another adventure exploring Thailand’s circuit of buses. One with new lessons to be learned, like finding out how far the bus stop is from the park entrance, how frequently said bus makes return trips and how late the bus runs back to your destination. All of these details I overlooked hoping to have a nice, spontaneous excursion to Kaeng Tana, a landmark in the district of Amphurs Khong Chiam. After an hour or so East from Ubon Ratchathani, I arrived in a town called Pibunmangsahan. From this thriving little town, I hitched a ride with another bus dropping schoolgirls of to their home villages. The bus traveled about 20 km east, through roaming buffalo, ostrich (!) and cows til I was dropped off a few kms from the park entrance. I wandered in by foot, feeling like the last person on Earth.
I was there to see the river rapids. The map I acquired at the T.A.T. (Tourism Authority of Thailand) promised a heavy flow of active gush. But alas, the river was calm and tranquil. Slightly disappointed, I soon perked up to realize I would be able to walk the rock formations normally inundated with the strong current and get an up-close view of the erosion resulting from that current. The rock was smooth and shaped as if made by a master sculptor with pools of green water in its many potholes. There was a young boy sitting in a large crater washing up while his mother used another crater to scrub out some clothes. Never failing to entertain a local with my pasty presence, the woman waved and laughed as if I was the one doing my laundry in a rock. I gave her a hearty wave and resisted the urge to ask to photograph her and her boy.
After a quick motorbike ride out of the park, I was dropped off at a Buddhist temple along the river. The grounds were beautiful and included a statue of a beautiful female Buddha, leopards and lions. They also overlooked the entire town that rested along the river.