Friday, August 20, 2010

The last trip

Another post-dated blog; this one was from the 20th or so.

Leaving early in the morning from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi (~3hrs) was a pretty nice/easy train trip; plenty of room with alternating views of fields and little cities along with some, of course, ornate temples. I was surprised by some of the squalid living conditions we passed, but I've actually seen much worse.
The ride from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok (~2.5hrs), along the Bridge over the River Kwai and the 'Death Railway' wasn't anything special. The museum at Hellfire Pass was really good however, and provided a lot of information about the 'Death Railway' (briefly, during WWII, the Japanese felt they needed a land connection to their new territory in Burma. The subsequent construction of a railroad was completed by POWs and 'hired' locals. 3 years later or so the nearly 500km of track were finished at the cost of over 100,000 lives). The museum was not too big, but informative and well laid out. Walking the railroad wasn't anything too special, but pretty amazing to think they did that all by hand in such conditions; I wish I'd had more time to walk as the views were pretty nice.

Finishing up there, I returned to Kanchanaburi. I was less than impressed with the town unfortunately (a wanna be backpackers hangout, but just seedy), but was able to get a nice place right on the river for cheap. The town was too empty to be fun and no other solo travelers or place to meet. I did have the best papaya salad I've ever had though: crispy fried fish and a salted egg as well as the sticky rice I'd been craving since leaving Laos!

The next day was out to Erawan Falls which was nicer than I thought it might be. The place was very well trodden and not as nice as the one in Laos however. Getting to the falls was a nice drive as it reminded me a bit of Brazil in the scenery as well as the numerous little places to stay (pousadas in Brazil). It was also nice to see that Thailand did have some nice scenery and relaxed places considering all I had seen was the southern beaches and Bangkok.
The bus ride out to the falls was quite an experience and took longer than I expected, but that was ok as I never paid for the bus ride. While still in Kanchanaburi I ran into a French mom and her son who I knew were going to the falls. They were waiting on the side of the road, and had tried to stop the bus a couple of times, but to no avail. The next thing I knew, a Thai woman that had been helping them was picking us up in a truck to take us to the bus station (we guessed, she didn't really speak English, but she pulled the clothes in the truck out so that we could hop in and we took off somewhere). We arrived at the bus station and she then made it obvious that she wanted us to get back in the truck with mention of '2 minutes'. We ended up being able to catch the bus (that had left 2minutes before us) and she got us on! All of that and I don't know any of those people's names!

The scramble up to the top of the falls was more difficult than I really expected, but lack of food made me a bit tired; I ended up slipping at one point and bashing my nose on my hand which was on a rock in front of me, ouch! My lack of food also made me less than social most of the time I was around Kanchanaburi, but also my timing of things is not making me social. I can see then end coming and I just don't care to meet many new people.
There were also way too many Frenchies at the waterfall being loud and annoying. It was nice to take in the serene setting of a gorgeous 7-tier waterfalls getting a free foot cleaning by fish... until I was inundated by shrieking and yelling French teenagers (I can accept that) and middle aged vacationers (you're 35, stop). Nonetheless, the experience was a memorable one. The entire stream was full of the fish that they use at the spas to clean your feet; it was a really weird feeling (sort of a sucking sensation mixed with some nibbling...definitely freaky at first), but if you got used to it and relaxed, it felt pretty nice, and my feet did come out cleaner!

The last night it looked like a huge storm was coming in as I was sitting in front of my room right on the river watching the sunset (tough life!), and it sure started like a major storm, but it never really materialized.
The last morning I walked all the way down to see the Bridge over the River Kwai, and was, as I expected, not too impressed (just a railroad bridge). That was after having a breakfast of some fiercely spicy vegetable soup with noodles: I was crying, but for some reason I ate the whole thing, much to the enjoyment of the old woman selling. I then ended up getting to Bangkok in the early afternoon and getting caught in the down pour which just meant I needed to shop to pass the time. Also had some really good dim sum, Chinese chives was the best, but the others were all really good, better/less greasy than what mom and I had in Melaka.
Next up was a reunion of the Duo for Steph's B-day, but that will wait for the next post...

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