Kanchanaburi was amazing! After a wonderful 2 hour bus ride in the AIR CONDITIONING (yes, we spoiled ourselves), we trudged across town to the Nita Rafthouse on the Kwai River. This place was pretty neat! The entire guest house was built on floating rafts tied together with strips of bamboo. There was also a huge, comfy hangout area with couches, books, and fans where we could relax and watch the kayaks floating past. Just outside our windows, we had some friendly roosters that were a bit confused. They started crowing at 1 a.m. and kept up the good work till mid-afternoon.
Exploring the Bridge Over the River Kwai -On our first day, we rented bikes and spent a gorgeous morning riding along the outskirts of town, past fields of pineapple, banana trees, and acres and acres of sugarcane. By the time we arrived at our destination, we were quite a mess. Apparently, our Thai bikes forgot to come with gears and we spent half the time pushing them up the hills , climbing on, and having fantastic races down the other side. We came coasting into the entrance to the caves covered in dust with huge smiles on our faces – the monks couldn’t help but giggle with us.
We also biked up to the “Bridge Over the River Kwai”- quite a popular landmark in this area. The huge iron bridge was part of the death railway, linking Thailand with Myanmar. It was built by allied prisoners of war under Japanese supervision during WWII. The history about this time of the war is very interesting, as well as devestatingly disturbing. I suggest reading up about the Burma Road or Death Railway! (book advice from Ash!)
Tourists are able to walk over the bridge, take pictures, etc. Since we decided to ride back on the other side of the river, we had to bring our bikes on the bridge with us. Bad idea. The walking space on the bridge was about 10 inches wide and we had to fit our bikes and ourselves on the narrow wooden plank. A mere two inches to the left or right and PLOP, right into the river below! So we shuffled along, bit by bit, against the oncoming foot traffic of grumpy tourists who had to get out of our way to let us and our huge mechanical beasts past. Oh yes, a train came along too, giving us perhaps 20 seconds to heave our bikes onto the tiny little platform and hold on tight as it rushed by. What an adventure! I don’t think I looked up the entire way over the bridge. It was much easier to hold my breath, stare at my feet, and hope that my balance was as good as I thought it was.
Erawan Falls -We rode a bus up to the Erawan waterfalls and spent a day hiking around the beautiful falls. I climbed to the top with some fun Chinese guys and we took turns sliding down the moss covered rocks to the pools below. Silly Ash – I slipped trying to climb up and have a bit of a gash in one knee and an icky, bloody foot. I don’t think I broke it, but it made for an interesting afternoon climbing the rest of the way up the mountain and then back down.
Nita Rafthouse -There were about 12 other travelers staying at the hostel with us and our nights were spent lounging around sharing stories, drinking beer, and playing games of cards and dice. Many of the travelers were from Canada, Australia, and France – all wonderfully funny people! Natalie and Rob are a great couple from Canada and heading along the same route as we are. We will be meeting them in Chang Mia for some intense lessons in rock climbing! I’ve always wanted to rock climb – very excited!! 🙂
Kanchanaburi Sightseeing -The girls took of yesterday afternoon to see some temples and I spent the day on the back of Paul’s motorcycle exploring the lake and little villages hidden in the mountains. My Canadian friend wanted to buy a shirt so we pulled over to a small family store on the side of the road near town, hopped off the bike, and started looking through the racks of clothes. Two little kids were eyeing us and kept giggling and we just smiled back. Finally, they ran inside to get their mother and she kindly came out to inform us that we were sorting through somebody’s clean laundry. Whoopsie!!
Tonight we arrived back in Bangkok and picked up our Laos visas. My travel bud is happy because she thinks they are the prettiest ones that we have received so far. Did I mention that we took the wrong bus and spent a long 4 1/2 hours on bus #40 on the entirely wrong side of the city? Who knew that traveling would be so tiresome? Still having a great, wonderful, very hot, but totally fabulous time!!