Caves, falls and fireworks

Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
Trip End Nov 29, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, November 10, 2011

I’m writing and uploading this sitting overlooking the River Kwai in the middle of no where - the wonders of modern technology!

We are both absolutely exhausted today - even though we slept until 8am (which on this holiday is very late). We can see the camp better in daylight - there are tents all round a central grassy area (with sheep on it - the first we have seen all holiday), each tent has a veranda with chairs and table. The “room” where we had breakfast and also the bar overlook the River Kwai - the small River Kwai, there is also a large River Kwai nearby which is the one with the famous bridge over it. There are densely forested hills all around and it is very beautiful. These hills are limestone and the scenery is reminiscent of the North of Vietnam. The camp is actually built on the famous Hellfire Pass so its steeped in history from the 2nd World War.

First thing this morning we drove 1 hours to Patwan (?) Caves. After climbing steps up the hillside for 1 km we got to the cave entrance. There is no way this would have got past the HSE in the UK - a very narrow gap in the rock face (David had to take the rucksack off to get through) and a very slippery steep path down to the main cave. As I hate caves at the best of times this was not a fun place! The caves themselves had the usual stalagmites and stalactites and lots of very impressive flows of limestone which looked like folded material.

Then on to Erawan National Park to a waterfall which comes down the hill in 7 separate falls - we got to fall 3 and both David and I were too hot and tired to go any further so we retreated back down to the car park and had our lunch at the Wimpey bar there (two Chicken burgers, chips and coke for just over 2) - comfort food I think! There were a lot of people swimming in the pools at the bottom of each of the falls and in the stream between - most of which seemed to be very fat Russian men wearing "budgie smugglers" - not a pretty sight!

The River Kwai has dams in places for hydro electricity and this has produced some lakes which looked rather like the Lake District (and had a lot of tourist resorts round them).

We then spent the rest of the afternoon sat on our veranda reading our books. We have just had dinner - they have set up tables with candles in the area outside our tent and put lanterns in the trees- it looks very pretty, The people in the local village are starting to celebrate with fireworks (mainly firecrackers by the sound of it).

There are numerous tourist resorts in the area - I wonder what the survivors of the Burma Railroad (if there are any still alive) would think of people going on holiday to visit the site where they suffered so much? There is a booklet in the tent about the building of the railroad and the place where we are staying was one of the camps - there is a poem by someone who was imprisoned here and he says is was a “Filth ridden hole” where “lice and rain destroyed their souls”. We are going to see the famous bridge tomorrow and the war graves - I think it will be harrowing.
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