You may be thinking: Claire, you really don’t have enough photos or enough to say about this to make a post, especially since some of your posts are wrist-slittingly long. You would, in fairness, be right! But I have a love affair with waterfalls that warranted putting this up.

When I was 19 and working in a local taxi rank, having just survived the worst week of my life (Monday: one grandmother died, Tuesday: turned 19, Wednesday: received Oxford rejection, Thursday: second grandmother died) the fantasy of travelling was first forming. I had never left Europe, and barely the UK, besides an Art school-trip to Paris which DID NOT involve the Louvre (Infinite question marks), and a family vacay to an island off of Greece when I was 12. Everything, though, was going quite badly wrong and I was beginning to feel like I was wasting quite a lot of time by not being anywhere other than where I was. I did a lot of Googling and came to the conclusion that I knew NOTHING about the world but that one thing I felt I needed to see, which Essex didn’t have, was a waterfall. I couldn’t remember ever having seen one before and in every country I researched; Croatia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and more, I was drawn to the pictures of their waterfalls. I called this gap year travel company for advice and a lady on the phone suggested Central America. I’d never heard of 4/5 of the countries she advised so I just asked: ‘will there be waterfalls?’, and she laughed, and said ‘yes’, so I booked it.

I now have a lot of pictures of waterfalls and have seen them all over the world, including the ‘second largest’, in China. (This is not the second tallest or the second deepest, but, by some measure that I am pretty sure no one would validate, it is apparently the ‘second largest’. It’s very pretty, either way.) Kanchanaburi, however, has a unique set of waterfalls which lead like a flight of stairs: crystal-blue pool after crystal-blue pool takes you up to the very top, where you can see me splashing with glee.

Who takes all of these photos?!

Uncomfortable strangers I force my friendship upon! No – really. I took this trip from a hostel, alone, and met an American family, a solo American backpacker, and two German guys my age, on the bus. I ended up lunching with the latter three, and discovering that the solo backpacker had been performing all over Japan and was on his way to broadway, having being scouted for the Carol King Musical (was this complete bs? Possibly! I was impressed, and he was a lovely man, either way). He went off for a separate venture, however, and I ended up hiking the falls with the German guys, who became two of my favourite travel companions, ever, even if I only knew them for a day. They were both Engineering students, and when a member of the other family asked what I study and I replied ‘Philosophy and Art History’ to which she said ‘Huh?!’, my new friend acquainted himself by shouting: ‘I think that’s great!’.

Is it a bit weird to ask two young German men to take photos of you in a bikini? Slightly. If it helps, I took photos of them, too, but I broke my camera on the way down and never managed to send them! This is actually the second time I have got overexcited by my love of waterfalls and slipped and knocked my camera on a rock, killing it more swiftly than you can say ‘oh, my knee is bleeding’. What was really cool about my company, here, was that they were both so honestly concerned, and kept trying to fix it, which I thought was extremely sweet. There’s nothing better than some optimistic new German friends to get you through a (literally) slippery slope!

Body Image Etc.

I don’t think these are the most flattering photos, figure-wise. It will never fail to impress me just how vigilant my Irish blood is in rejecting any and all melanin (these are taken 2 weeks into 40 degree heat!) and it’s hard to look long, slim, slender, or elegant, when your legs stop at 26 inches. I’ve looked at these pics, before, and dwelled for an unpleasant few minutes on how young I look, my strangely disproportionate entire body: thigh ratio, and whether this bikini really fits…

I always stop there, though. Whenever I get into that head space, I realise I’m seeing myself as an aesthetic object, and that this photo isn’t of a body, it’s of a person. My thigh-size is irrelevant, because it’s not a photo about that, it’s a photo which captures an action-packed moment of me, in motion, enjoying a waterfall. Here’s to genuine candids! (I fell down those rocks 0.3 seconds later.)