Kanchanaburi - River Kwai

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Ahhh... I'm in a good mood this morning!  I wake up slowly after falling back asleep at least twice.  Life is good!  I pack up my stuff and head to the lobby to grab breakfast before starting my days adventures, whatever that may be.  I'm supposed to meet up with Nicki, but that's only for a few hours before she has to go meet her sister around 2, so I'm still trying to figure out what all to do this afternoon.  I enjoy a light breakfast and stay at my table leisurely for a bit having a coffee... I know, I've started to have a coffee from time to time just because I can.  I have nothing to be awake for, but it's actually starting to grow on me in terms of taste.  Anyways, I digress... This morning, as I'm chillin having my coffee, two particularly cute girls walk into the lobby and sit down at the table next to me. 

Now, it isn't my fault that I have ears like a fox, but I guess I could have just ignored them.  Obviously I didn't, so as soon as I figured out it was German they were talking I asked them which part of Germany they were from... near Nuremburg but once again details I don't need to get into.  Anyways, they are extremely nice but clearly not well planned out as they don't really know what or how they are going to do things.  So... I offer some advice about Bangkok and the surrounding areas and then go on my way.  Once back in my room, I realize that my trusty Rough Guide to South East Asia has some useful information on the place that they said they were headed to later in the day. 

Let me clarify that this was on my list of things to do before talking to these two cool ladies, Yiknur and Helena... yeah, Yiknur was her name!  Anyways, I head back out and offer to let them borrow the book for 10 mins while I shower to which they asked me to join them.  Who am I to say no?  And now I have travel partners to do something remote and off the beaten path, sorta... Anyways, we decide to head to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai for an adventure.  I call up Nicki as I'm running an hour late (I honestly tried but her hotel didn't have her on their list so I'm sorry Nicki if you were waiting for me...) and we head off to the train station via water boat.  Once there, we find out that we have almost 3 hours before our train departs.

I'm not about to sit around for 3 hours so I decide to make a quick trip to Wat Phra Kaew which is retarded... I mean, this place is AWESOME! 
I don't know how to compare this temple to those we saw in India, but I will try.  This had no muslim influence, but it did take many aspects of the Hindi architecture and what I presume is Chinese.  The details are perfect and everything is in immaculate condition.  Without a formal tour guide its hard to determine/know if things have been restored or preserved perfectly, but either way, I'm in awe of the vivid colors, how fine the edges are, and how intricate the details are.  There is a story that is told in 178 painted facades that runs the course of the outer wall of the complex and spans a full kilometer.  The story is the Ramayana (Hindu story of good's triumph over evil) and the paintings are so captivating.  We only have time to make it to the climax of the story, when Rama kills the 8-headed dragon before we had to rush off to catch our train.

We get back to the train station just in time for me to grab my bag from the "cloak room" (I gave myself a 50/50% chance of having my bags when I returned to the train station, and was mentally prepared to be without a bag only to be pleasantly surprised to be reunited with The Eagle... yeah, I think time has come to name my bag...).  The train ride is awesome.  I find myself smiling for no reason as I realize that I'm in Thailand and travelling with two girls who I just met a few hours earlier!  Who does that???  The country side is beautiful in its own right... nothing out of this world, but very different from anything I've seen so far.  The train is rudimentary but clean and relatively efficient.  All the windows are down which acts as horrible A/C because its hot as heck outside.  The 2.5 hour train ride goes quickly and we arrive in ??? to find Sam's Guest House that has availability. 

The girls get a room and I get my own at the steep price of 450 baht ($15) per room, including breakfast!  The rooms are nothing special but they are on stilts over the River Kwai... this is freaking amazing!!!

We sit down to dinner at a restaurant that, like all the others in this country, just set up shop on the side of the street and are purely outdoor affairs.  I order a coconut milk soup at the recommendation of a friend... thanks Jen... needless to say, I was full-blown crying in a matter of just a few seconds.  I honestly have never had anything that spicy in my life and it took me another 10 minutes before I could even think about trying another dish.  The Pad Thai was really good, as were the spring rolls, but my mouth stung the rest of the night no matter how much beer I tried to quench my burning mouth with.  
After dinner, we all did just that and sat down at an outdoor bar.  The owner, a Thai guy named K who grew up in Switzerland and Germany, studied in England and now lives in Kanchanaburi, so he plays interpreter for us when needed.  K explains Buddhism to us and what life is like for the average person in Thailand, although he is clearly not normal given that he speaks about 17 languages and runs an outdoor bar in a quaint little backpackers town...

Night time is extremely peaceful on the water and the stars are out in full force as I chill out on my balcony over the water before running under the cover of my bug net that I'm finally using for real!  Sweet dreams to everyone.
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