We arrived a little later than expected but checked into the Bluestar Guesthouse in no time and into the wrong room. We were soon upgraded to what the Lonely Planet describes as extraordinary A-frame tree-houses. To be fair, "extraordinary" could be taken either way. I (andy) wasn't too fussed, especially as it was dusk, there were loads of flying things, the tree-houses were above what looked like swamp and the walls were bits of ply nailed together, not to mention the gaps in the floor boards. Still we had air-con, running (hot!) water and a flush toilet so we weren't roughing it too much. However we weren't sure what to do with the huge blue towel on the bed. we decided it was too big for a bath towel and plus there was only one. I suggested a mat for the floor and this seemed quite attractive given the aforementioned gaps but we decided to leave it on the bed. A few minutes later we figured it out - the lurid material on the bed were fitted sheets so it must be the duvet! Nice.
We settled in for a noisy night in the jungle with 2 mozzy machines plugged in and the aircon on max. I must admit though that we had a perfectly good night's sleep and soon realised that this place wasn't actually that bad at all. Kanchanaburi itself is fairly big - a couple of main roads with loads of bars, restaurants and small shops lining the roads. Scrawny cats and dogs everywhere. We've just seen some little old lady get her Christmas tree out to get some extra custom for her "spa and salon" - a hairdressers. There's also a wicked night market selling various food items, belts, buddhas, mobile phones and other knick knacks.
We're here for 4 nights. Yesterday we went to the Erawan National Park by public bus. It sounds like something from the Lord of the Rings and I must admit the 7 tiered waterfall was quite magical. It is a 2km hike to the top and at various points on the way are these waterfalls that you can dip your toes in or swim in. By the 2nd tier we were getting hot so thought we'd cool off a bit (having come prepared in trunks etc - good prep by George). Only problem was a few fish. Big 'uns - some 18" in length. Sarah was going in first with me paranoid about the bags but she didn't like the look of the fish so I walked out on the log to slip/dive in. Except the little buggers started nibbling my ankles! I say nibbling, I didn't hang around to find out! I think they may have "just" been sucking them but nonetheless we hopped about a bit before bottling it and moving on. By the 4th tier we were properly hot and this time, again with plenty of pathetic peering at the water and almost going in, Sarah dived in and (some minutes later) I followed. Lovely (altho we didn't stop moving whilst in the water!). We trekked upto the top for more of the same and then caught the public bus back to town. The highlight of the trip so far for me. There's apparently more to see at the place but we were catching the last bus back so didn't have time for more exploration.
We've started being more adventurous with the food. It started with some local fayre at the train station as we had assumed there would be "proper" food there - there wasn't - but we haven't been disappointed, especially with the price (typically 60p each for rice or noodle dish). It might not look the nicest but the food has always been tasty. In fact, we're well under budget for food - we're spending about 6 quid a day vs 12 we budgeted. In the night market we found a place that has stoves on each table and you get to cook what you choose from the big buffet table. Very hot work but good fun, altho we struggled to identify all that we ate. The liver I chose got wasted for one but we had mussels, chicken, squid, king prawns, pork, crab and other meat (again not sure what). We even cracked a egg into it but I think we need some more training - hence our cookery course tomorrow. Should be interesting, we start in the market and then cook what we buy.
The other thing we did today was a very touristy but still good trip to the Tiger Monastery. It's a bit of conveyer belt but see for yourself some of the photos. We nearly got run down by rampaging pigs and other cattle whilst there but all part of the fun!
Today we attended the cookery course at Apple's Guesthouse. Good fun and we learnt to cook Pad Thai, Tom Yum soup, Massaman curry, Beef with Oyster sauce and Thai stir fry. And then we ate the fruits of our labours. Yummy.
We are off to Ayuthaya, the old capital (well one of them), tomorrow by public bus.
It's unlikely that Thonburi station in Bangkok will ever be called a "Destination Station" like the new St Pancras but we were pleased to find the signs in both English and Thai and it was easy enough to buy our (heavily inflated) tourist tickets to Kanchanaburi. We eschewed the tourist mini-bus or taxi as we settled into 3 hours of 3rd class travel. Surely a first. The seats were clean enough (looking) but lacked any sort of comfy cushion and the seat backs were at 90 degrees so by the time we had whistled slowly past the fields and so on, the backs were a bit sore. Still it was pleasant enough and we felt like authentic travellers.