Neda and I often talk about just what it is we are doing on this mini-retirement/travel the world extravaganza. Sure, we want to experience diverse languages, foods, and climates, and we hope to make new friends and gain insights about the world. But in the end, we have distilled it down to one coined word: wonderlust.  The desire to constantly have wonder in one’s life, whether one is trotting the globe or grinding through the typical work
week.  It is wonder that inspires us to create, to love, to truly feel alive.
the fish awaiting their meal
This past week has had no shortage of wonders. It started with the long trip from Southern Thailand up to the Kanchanaburi province of Central Thailand. Kanchanaburi contains the 7-tiered Erawan Waterfall, where each aquamarine curtain flows into a rippling pool fit for swimming before continuing on to the next fall. In each pool, a variety of fish will be swimming with you, some of which love to eat the dead skin cells off your legs and feet. It is a wondrous experience to take part in this temporary symbiotic relationship as the fish get some food and you get nature’s pedicure.

One Tier of the Erawan Falls
Kanchanaburi also contains the infamous bridge over the River Kwai, built by Japanese captured POWs under horrid conditions during World War II. In total, thousands of soldiers from America, England, Australia, China and other countries lost their lives building the Siam-Burma railroad that runs through Kanchanaburi. It is here that we paused in wonder at how cruel man can be to his fellow man when greed and hatred reign the psyche. To see all the pictures from Kanchanaburi, both waterfalls and the bridge, go this link:
Contemplating the Bridge Over the River Kwai
Buddhas at Sunrise
Next, we headed north into the Central Plains of Thailand to visit the ancient city of Sukhothai. Established in the middle of the 13th century, this vast kingdom (considered to be the first distinctly “Thai” kingdom) ruled from the capital city for almost 200 years. As Neda and I bicycled through the 70 square kilometers of ruins at the site, we couldn’t help but marvel at the beautiful art and architecture that remains and at the obvious power of this kingdom that has long since faded to the sands of time. We watched the sun rise over the ancient city with our backs to a 45 foot Buddha on a hill outside of town – the same Buddha that the king of Sukhothai would visit on his white elephant come every Buddhist Sabbath. To see the rest of the wonderful pictures of the city of Sukhothai, go here:

The peeking Buddha of Wat Si Chum
The Thararak Falls
Finally, we headed west to a border town called Mae Sot. Sitting just 7 km from the Thai border with Burma, Mae Sot is a cultural melting pot of Thai, Burmese,
Chinese, and native hill tribe peoples. We’ll go into that more in another post, but today we rented a motor bike and did a self guided tour of the Thararak, Pha  Charoen, and Pa Wai Waterfalls, located over a 50 km stretch from the city. Each waterfall brought its own unique wonder, ending with the Pai Wai falls, the
most mystical and enchanted waterfalls we have ever seen (see below). We left with a smile on our face and a sense that we will always carry with us the beauty we had seen – perhaps as an inspiration when wonder seems hard to find. To see the pics so far of Mae Sot, including the waterfalls and our visit to the Burmese Wat, click here:

The enchanted Pai Wai Falls
And yet all these amazing sites paled in comparison to the most wondrous event to happen this week in our lives. While traveling, we found out that our niece Ella spoke her first word! Even as we find wonder in our travels, our hearts are with my brother Dan and his wife Lauren as they find wonder in the little girl they have brought into the world. We love you Ella! Oh, and her first word was “cheese” in case you were "wonder"ing…
Our journey on this leg of the trip
2/10/2012 06:27:03 am

Outrageous pix...each one was more spectacular than the one before. And yes, love the first word. As I recall, one of Libby's first words was 'dead bird.' At least, that's what it sounded like to us. Glad you're both well and (obviously) thriving. Miss you...


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