bangkok to kanchanaburi and the elephants

breakfast over, the five of us together, plans made (claire having done all the research and arrangement making) we were off on our speedy-gonzales-piloted tuk-tuk to the station and off to the courty. the three hour train ride out of thonburi station to kanchanaburi was a relaxed start to the day, perfect to resolve the alcohol induced headache from the previous night. it only took a few miles to get out of the smog and density of the city to find ourselves with loing views over green fields dotted with a mixture of modern newly built houses and shacks that could blow down in a light breeze. all properties, no matter what condition they’re in, have perfectly decorated ‘spirit houses’ outside of them. thais believe that spirits have the ultimate right to the land and being very superstitious in nature they can’t upset any spirits, certainly not by taking over their land. during the build of any size of house (any building for that matter) they build colorful doll house like shrines for the spirits to live in. they always aim to make the spirit houses look nicer than the ‘people house’ to make sure that the spirit will live there rather than with the people. spirits, although not evil, can be mischievous and can apparently be easily upset. 🙂 anything for the quietest life possible in thailand.

as the journey progressed the hills got higher, the fields green and the buildings smaller. k’buri, when we arrived at the station was underwhelming considering the talk we’d heard about the place. but this was to be so only of the station. after bartering hard with the local tuk-tuk and taxis we hopped on a flatbed truck with benches in the back (still need to fine the name of these things) and headed about 5 miles for 30p to the jolly frog hostel. paradise! no other word for it! 70b (about 1 pound) gets you a single room, mine right next to the bathroom, with a view out across the river kwai and for all of us that evening, the perfect thai sunset.

we took a short wander up the main drag in k’buri to book some trips for the following few days and check out what was available in the way of food and drink nearby. plenty…every single building is either a bar/restaurant or offers massage. spoilt for choice. at the toi trip center we booked the next day’s trip to see all local tourist traps and a visit to the tiger temple for the following day for 1000b. two days worth of entertainment taken care of straight away. i’m hungry…back to the frog!

the food in the jolly frog was just as much of an amazement as the accomodation. for 25b, about 30p i hade the best sweet and sour chicken and rice i’ve ever had. we all ate a feast for about5 pounds and decided afterwards to sit outside with the rest of our drinks, listen to some music and relax.

jean had previuosly met a full-time hippy by the name of beyo (bee-oh) in chiang mai; he just happened to be sitting with his girlfriend, emma, out on the grass (smoking some grass) listening to reggae and watching the sun go down. would have been rude not to accept his invitation to join him. after bangkok and the previous night nothing could have been more perfect that evening.

i awoke to the sound of two cockrels in full voice doing what i thought at the time was fighting (later to find that they were merely singing the new day in) at 4.30am, ouch. awake to early. nevermind. the bed was not overly comfy anyway. what can you expect for a pound?

anna and i met for a quick breakfast before getting out to the front of the frog to meet the tour guide, ricky, and the rest of the folk (zara and brandon, jen and ian, and peter) we were joining for the day’s trip to the erewan waterfalls, the elephant farm, thai-burma death railway and the famous river kwai bridge.

the waterfalls were stunning. 7 levels of clear blue, cold water teaming with fish surrounded by a forest alive with birds and monkeys. we climbed right to the top passing all 7 falls (number 4, called ‘bristols’ as they look like a woman’s breasts. this was also the fall that you could use as a water slide…cue giggling at the thought of sliding down the cleavage…*sigh*). the water was wonderfully refreshing in the heat, we enjoyed it so much we were late back to meet the guide. ha had to order our lunch for us to keep on schedule…oops. nice lunch of fried rice tho.

i’ve always wanted to ride on an elephant…i’ve finally done it! the next stop was chang wang-po elephant farm. we rode for about half a mile across the farm…slowly but thrillingly…on our elephant driven by a local mahout (elephnat trainer). we even got to in turn, ride on the beast’s neck rather than on the padded seat on it’s back…awesome. mum, i know you’d have loved it!

at the same location we joined a group riding rafts up the kwai, a motor boat towed us for about half mile and we were left to slowly drift our way back, very relaxed and calming after the unpredicatble motion of the elephant.

off again in our minibus to the death railway and cave. the railway built in ww2 connected the japanese in thailand to the british war front in burma. the pows did 6 years work in 13 months. 100,000 died constructing the 450km of railway. the disturbing visual…one railway sleeper for every man dead. the cave was used by the japanese to store ammo buit now holds a sitting buddha image…my first one seen 🙂

finally we ended up at the river kwai bridge made famous by the movie. unfortuately after spending so much time atother sites we didn’t have enought time to walk across it, but we’re tired by this point and did have time for a little street food and a drink before home.

we invited the people we met on trip to join us for dinner and meet out other companions (only anna and i did this trip) dinner at the frog, and few (too many) drinks and the friend bar up the street and some invaluable knowledge from a local ex-pat about getting about laos, vietnam and cambodia and suddenly it was 4am and way past bed time. luckily the tiger temple trip is not until 2 this afternoon and i managed a lay-in (not cockrels this morning thankfully).

    • Jen
    • January 30th, 2007

    Fantastic journey so far and it’s only the beginning!! Cant wait to hear all about the Ligers.. I mean Tigers!! 🙂

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