The River, the Bidge, the Un-birthday!!!
Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
19Trip End Jun 01, 2013
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Where I stayed
The day we left Bangkok for here was hot! We opted to get the train the short hop toKanchanaburi.For a couple of reasons, primarily we were sick of stuffy buses, we thought we'd rock it with the locals, plus it was the beginning of the historic railway built under the horrendous Japanese regime.
We had to take a taxi to Thonburi sttion across the Chao Phraya river.The train only cost a pound and took a couple of hours. We arrived in to Kanchanaburi in the lashing rain. The train journey itself was pretty pleasant. However arriving in the rain wasn't exactly ideal.The train station was about 2km from our accommodation (which I was quite excited about). With not a taxi or tuk-tuk in sight we decided to walk. So with or ever reliable brollies ( a steal at two dollars in Singapore), we strapped on our bags and away we went.
We eventually reached our house for the next three days, and we were mighty wet. When the woman on reception eventually found our booking (it was a bit like communicating with a deaf person), off we went up to our room.It was really nice, everything I had expected it to be
We arrived at the riverside restaurant and sat to choose and eat what was the best Thai food we have eaten so far. It was amazing. Noi who took our order was also the owner, the head chef, creator of the menu, and the teacher for the cookery class. She advised us what best to order, and we thoroughly enjoyed each morsel.
So full as ticks we left the restaurant and crossed the road to bed, tired and satisfied.
Rising late in the day, we crossed to the restaurant where we ate breakfast while watching the boats go up and down on the river. Down river from where we were was the famed 'Bridge On the River Kwai', however this was not always the river Kwai (Yai). The film 'Bridge On The River Kwai' was loosely based on the building of a bridge on the Mae Klong, which was the rivers original name.The river was renamed in approx. 1960 after the film had been released
Anyway after an interesting breakfast we headed off for a look around Kanchanaburi town. We had decided to go to the Thailand Burma Railway Centre to have a look at what the bridge was all about. After spending quite a few hours here and learning of the harrowing experience these people went through we walked up and across the famed bridge. The original centre section of the bridge was blown up by the Allies, however the majority of the bridge was in its original form. The place was crawling with tourists and it was quite a warm day. It made me think if there was no bridge would anyone even bother to visit the wee town of Kanchanaburi? So Andrew bought me a coconut for my birthday and we walked back home the long way, acorss the bridge and avoiding the tourist crowds. Back at the guesthouse we showered and got ready for dinner. We decided to venture in to town and go to a restaurant recommended in the rough guide. Unfortunately it was rank! A massive disappointment after what we had eaten the night before. Andrew also decided I was going to eat a whole plate of spring rolls because they had mushrooms in them. What a very lucky woman I am!!
After a emotional few hours it was bedtime. A birthday it was going to take a long time to forget but not for any of the right reasons!!
Today we decided to go on a tour
Seven tiers of falling water up a very steep and muddy climb to the top, was Erawan waterfall. We didn't make it all the way to the top. It was hellishly hot, slippery, and muddy. My companion Mr. Happy 2012 didn't make the journey any easier plodding along beside me in a sullen sulk. Anyone would think it was his birthday I did nothing to mark the day before and not the other way around!!. So I made the decision to go back to the bottom and go for a swim. After the heat and exertion of the climb, sitting under the cool clear blue of the cascading water was heaven. After half an hour of getting pummelled (very pleasantly) by the water I emerged to rejoin Mr. Happy and get some lunch.
After a lovely lunch and lively conversation with two Dutch girls the group got back on the bus and we made our way to the Hellfire Pass museum. This was a museum dedicated to all the men and women who died and suffered building this railway. The building of this line was made even more difficult by the need of the workers to cut through the rock of the mountains on the Thai-Burma border in order to join the line and gain the access the ports of Burma in order for the Japanese plans of South East Asia domination to take place. The workers cut through these mountainsides using hand tools and dynamite. Work was carried out through the night in which fires (likened to the fires of hell) would burn to give off light and enable the work to carry on. Hence the name Hellfire Pass. After a pretty sobering 1.5 hours touring the museum and walking through Hellfire Pass (also called Cuttings Pass as it was a pass cut in to the side of the mountain) we returned to the bus and made our way back to Kanchanaburi via 'The Bridge' after a brief trip on the death railway across one of the many mountainside hugging wooden trestle bridges
Once again we returned tired, exhausted and dirty from a day adventuring. We got ourselves decent and decided to stick with the reliable and cross the road to have heaven on a plate. After talking with Noi we decided to do her cookery class the next day and possibly leave via Bangkok to Chiang Mai if we could book a train which we would check out in the morning when the train station opened. After filling our faces once again with fantastic Thai cuisine (including blue rice) we went to bed excited about sleep.
Waking to the alarm clock at 07.00 on a Sunday is never my idea of a good time. Feeling extremely tired I decided that maybe we should just give the train station a miss and stay another night. I had no interest in either getting up or packing. Lying in bed until 08.30 until we had to get up for our cookery class sounded like the way to go. So after lying in bed for another 1.5 hours we got up showered, and crossed the road for breakfast. After the slowest service ever we inhaled our breakfast and I went back to reception to book another night. After discussing this with the receptionist the day before and her saying another night would be no problem she now decided she would refuse the request
Me: We'd like to book another night please
Her: Blank look
Me: But last night you said we could book another night, so could we book another night please?
Me: Why can't we
Her: Fully booked, no room, no stay. Check out and leave bags. Go.
Well there's not much you can say to that really is there. There is no point getting mad, fully booked is fully booked. Part of me was laughing, part of me stressed out, and part of me wanted to lie down. I went and broke the news to Andrew. It was now 09.20, we had precisely ten minutes to pack and be in the restaurant for the class!! In the process of the rush to pack and ram everything in and get back across the road in time for the class I somehow managed to twist/strain my back. Now I just wanted to cry!
I managed to make it a mere ten minutes late
On the orders of wash your hands and sit down we were given an outline of how things were to go from here. Noi we would cook, we would watch, then eat, and then cook it ourselves. It was just going to be that simple!! Oh and then we were going to eat four courses after all that. Big day! It was a very enjoyable day. Noi is so passionate about her cooking, and provides very easy instructuion.
When we were all finished the cooking and eating I retired to the 'loo' on returning Andrew said we had to leave 'now'. I was a bit confused by this. Apparently in my abscence Noi had asked if we booked the train. When Andrew said no she got on the phone and arranged it all for us. A taxi from accommodation to train station to buy ticket, same taxi to bus station to get the bus to Bangkok, then a taxi to Hualamphong train station to catch the 19.35 to Chiang Mai
After much clinging to the edge of our seats, and consultation with the map to see where the hell we were we pulled up at the station at 19.30. Practically threw the fare at the driver, grabbed the bags and ran. This wasn't the easiest run of my life, twenty kilos of luggage, wet flip flops, and dodgy back. It very nearly ended in tears. We ran to the platform, figured out which train we were meant to be on and began the long walk to find our carriage. At 19.33 we boarded the train. We had just made it by the skin of our teeth. Soaked in sweat, knackered, dying for both a pee and drink in that order we had made it. I was very excited about sleeping on a train. I got the top bunk. And after what I would describe as a not to shabby a dinner, we settled in for the next 17 hours. Thank God for beds, night trains, very kindly ladies, and Zopiclone. Night, night xx