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Day One – The Fellowship of the Bridge

The first episode of the Dishonourable Edward Pastanga and Fluffy Fudgepacker's amazing journey to the Plateau of Esaan and the various mishaps encountered on the road...

Khao E-to Magical Forest


And so verily, we set forth upon our epic voyage to the 100-Year-Old Wooden Bridge hidden within the wilds of the former Khmer Empire lands of Nakorn Rachasima in deepest darkest Thailand. To protect the guilty, I have changed the name of my comrade in arms. Myself and Fluffy Fudgepacker found ourselves in the den of sins known as Bangkok. Our journey to that point would be one of several epic volumes that we will not cover in this installment, it is not for the faint-hearted.


From within that dark nest of vice we emerged, with our honour still intact (at least on this occasion) fleeing the smoggy dusty streets at the break of day. We headed north, the weather already warm even with the sun yet to rise. It was to be a heat-striven day at the end of March that would separate the men from the boys in that smoky hell hole of a city. We reached the northern suburbs as a tender orange sun struggled to establish itself from within the heavy pollution.

The comrades in arms


We struck eastward traversing the canals of Pathumthani towards Nakhon Nayok occasionally referring to our magic oracle for the sureness of our route, the dulcet female tones of Google becoming continually more frustrated with us as we missed our turnings. Our sagging strength and spirits reinvigorated by the good-heartedness of the locals who had seen to it to ensure an almost infinite number of coffee shops along our route. Soon we had evaded the polluted gloom of Bangkok and were into the countryside where the skies were clearer but, the mercury kept on climbing, we were heading into a stonkingly hot day, the kind that would melt your face off Indiana Jones style.


We were soon confronted with a sizable decision, whether to continue our way on the hellishly hot path to Kabinburi or to take refuge in the unknown forests of Khao E-to. In our naivety we decided to head into the forest. Our worst fears nearly materialized when we were set upon by a pack of dogs. The lead hound was of just medium size and one eye, and I steeled myself for his onslaught. Given his lack of depth perception, he knew not the level of shit he was in should he mess with me. However, with a wag of his tail he and his companions greeted us with warmth and kindness and with just a pat on the head he gladly led us to an ancient map of Khao Eto forest so that we could discern our way.

Edward Pastanga in a brave attempt to hide his features...

Fluffy was about to melt...


The map was faded and in the local Sanskrit but we were able to identify a path that could suit us. We scouted the land around the vast lake that lay before the forest entrance. We could see in the distance the giant Buddhist monument of Khao E-to rising above the trees where likely the pagan locals would congregate and set our heading to that direction. 

Into the forest we trekked, across dried-up streams and passed strange bamboo structures weaved into huge basket-type nests. We kept our silence and our distance for who knew what fearsome wildlife lurked within. As we ventured further into the depths of the forest Fluffy remarked upon the strangeness of the trees. The woods seemed to be young with few of the gnarly thick trunked trees of more ancient forests.

More and more of these trees appeared partially or completely free of bark, the light brown flesh of their young trunks suggestive of nakedness. We wished them luck against potential tree violators and pushed on into the jungle.

Eventually, we realized we were being led astray in the forest, the path taking us further away from our goal of the giant Buddhist monument. The woodlands were clearly against our reaching our target and so, with our water running perilously low and the heat ratcheting up we turned back and tried another direction.

This time we stumbled upon the great Khao E-to waterfall which consisted of three levels of plummeting water.

We saw some locals down by the pools and a fat child who appeared to be drowning. Against our natural instincts to jump in and save him or take a video of him drowning, we watched what were obviously his parents talking to him to avail himself from the swirling waters.

What with our limited knowledge of the local customs of Khao E-to, and it being the 21st century and lots of weirdos about, we decided to keep our distance from the unfolding drama so as not to give any wrong impression.

Continuing on our way we entered a region of majestic mountains and thick vegetation. We came across giant man-made tunnels upon which the jungle had grown providing a land bridge across which wildlife was able to cross from the great Khao Yai National Park forest to the less great Thaplan National Park forest and then on to the Ta Phraya National Park on the borders of Cambodia. 

We headed north again and witnessed great golden Buddhist temples and giant white Stupas. Ahead of us we saw that the heavens had opened, and a downpour of biblical dimensions was descending. We caught but the aftermath of this great storm causing us to traverse swollen rivers and flooded passes. As our spirits began to fall from all the hard travelling, an apparition appeared that raised us to greater efforts to reach our halfway destination.

A Lotus’s Hypermarket appeared in the distance in the ancient Amphur of Konburi. The gods were on our side for once for it was only 1:30 pm so we were still able to buy beer which we did in copious quantities. Had we been just 30 minutes later we would have missed this vital opportunity.

Sooner than we had anticipated, we arrived at my sweetheart’s farm. Set within fields of paddy and tapioca, the farm was an oasis of calm and helpful facilities, food, shelter, refrigerator for the beer and even ice.

We were instantly embraced with welcome, primarily from my two slobbering dogs who took an instant liking to Fluffy, although I did not see it as particularly mutual.

Fluffy exercised more affection upon my cats, Somporn, the nervous mother of four kittens and her twin brother Peter, who looked nothing like her and spent the whole day both stretched out and twisted in sleeping recline. Somporn’s kittens, less than a month old but with their eyes open and taking tentative steps, were delighted to make our acquaintance and be happily petted.

While the beer cooled in the fridge, we explored the farm.

We met and patted albeit tentatively Somjit and Somjun, the gigantic dwarf pigs and called a careful hello to Mad Dog Mafia and his crazy dog siblings who barked and howled and many a general ballyhoo of noise from behind the fence where they were ensconced. We checked in on my son’s prawns who were in the pleasant state of not eating each other although we were informed that they were suffering from a virus that was restricting their further growth. How he divined that they had such a virus is still a mystery to this day but, he was convinced of the truth of it from YouTube.

We followed the chickens and ducks back to the farmhouse but not before beholding in aghast shock the monumental ugliness of the male turkeys, we really could not imagine what the females saw in them. They gobbled noisily at us as we remarked on their hideousness.

We moved to the coffee shop that is neither a shop nor has the means of making coffee. However, it has a library of books, air conditioning and a very comfy reclining armchair. I instantly fell asleep in the chair while Fluffy crashed out on the floor.

We set up chairs to conduct banter on the balcony, but were suddenly besieged by biblical swarms of flying insects that seemed besotted on sucking us dry of all bodily fluids. Given this melodrama, we spent the evening inside my man-cave eating, consuming beer, talking old toot and watching Netflix. After the excesses of the traveling, we decided to turn in early to bed so as to be ready in earnest for the highlight of the journey the following morning which would take us to the magical 100-Year-Old Wooden Bridge.


Written by the Dishonourable Edward Pastanga

On this day of our Lord 30th of March 2024


12 comentários


Why do I get the feeling that this was nothing short of a calamity, and both of you were thoroughly enjoying yourselves? It seems like you'll do it again, and again... the fellowship will grow.😅

Curtir
art58koen
art58koen
08 de abr.
Respondendo a

That's more or less correct 😉

Curtir

Lost for words.....

Maybe it's just as well that only one of these reprobates joins our sober expeditions. Two of them would lead to calamities for sure.

Curtir
art58koen
art58koen
01 de abr.
Respondendo a

Thanks Tim 😄

Curtir

sweirberlin57
sweirberlin57
01 de abr.

What a romp! Totally delightful. :-) My compliments to you (and a bit to AI) for this incredible saga of heroism and downright zany adventurism!

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art58koen
art58koen
01 de abr.
Respondendo a

Thanks Steve, but absolutely no AI text! Photos though I gave grunge filters...

Curtir

ray storey
ray storey
01 de abr.

Did Fluffy show you his Bare Arse? He showed it to me, and to a young Pharmacy Lady, so there is a Queue!

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art58koen
art58koen
01 de abr.
Respondendo a

That event did make a huge impression on you for sure Ray! 😄

Curtir

ray storey
ray storey
01 de abr.

Those bark-shedding trees might be from Australia...did they speak with a strange accent?

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art58koen
art58koen
01 de abr.
Respondendo a

They were suspiciously quiet Ray, we didn't trust them at all...

Curtir
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