Bangkok - Khaosan Road.
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
403Trip End Dec 31, 2018
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Where I stayed
We stayed in Khaosan Road where all self-respecting backpackers gravitate to in Bangkok. Two things struck us immediately (1) how clean the streets are, and (2) that happy cheerful woman are, again a visible element in society. It was very apparent to us we were not still in India!
Having not been to Bangkok before, even though we have been to Thailand twice previously, we enjoyed seeing the sights and getting the feel of the city
The story was quite pertinent to us as we had heard it told at a work convention.
Bangkok is also home to Wat Phra Kaeo, an amazing (and to our minds, garish) temple to honour another Buddha, this time Emerald, in the grounds of the Grand Palace. It is just too much for the eye to take in, of colour and shine in the form of glittering mosaic encrusted pillars, lots of gold leaf towers and pagodas and highly polished bright green and orange ceramic roof tiles.
A day trip to see the Bridge over the River Kwai was quite an experience just in the style of trip itself. We had only paid 500baht ($15A) each for a budget tour that included lunch so weren't quite sure what to expect
Our tour first went to the town of Konchonaburi where there is an allied war cemetery where the remains of thousands of Australians, British and Dutch are buried who died while building the Burma railway. A huge POW camp was based in this town and we found a visit to the museum really informative in explaining the importance of this railway and the bridge over the Kwai to the Japanese. The plan was to connect Yangoon (in Burma) with Bangkok via rail for the transport of military supplies for the eventual push into India. In the 415kl section of railway built, more than 100,000 PO W's and many more civilian natives lost their lives. Engineers estimated that this section of railway would take 5 years to build but it was done in 16 months at this amazing cost of lives.
One of the reasons (we learned in the museum) was that all the survey work through the jungle and for the bridge crossings was done undercover prior to the war. Two Japanese engineers married Thai girls in the clothing business who had freedom to move between Thailand and Burma to sell their products
We walked on the bridge made famous by the movie and then took a hour and half journey on a section of the railway to Nam Tok which is almost to the Burma border. We had a late lunch on a tethered house boat with a Thai family on the River Kwai and ended the day at a beautiful cooling waterfall.
Our next day was to start early leaving Thailand for neighbouring Cambodia.
Footnote: Wat Pra Kaeo features in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die.