Temple tours and tired tigers

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

6.30am we rushed a breakfast down our necks in order to be in time for our tour guide collecting us for our day of sightseeing, Paula was gutted about missing out on her sunny side ups. Fifteen minutes later a tour guide showed up looking bright and breezy, smiles all round and muttered our names under his breath to confirm our booking with him, it turned out we were the only two people on his tour that day, so as we jumped into the back of the air conditioned minibus with tinted windows we felt like true VIPs.

We were quickly driven to the Mother Temple only a few kilometres away and thought our luck just kept improving since this element of the tour hadn't been highlighted, bonus addition to the trip!! Outside the temple women were selling bags of live fish and turtles to be released into the river and providing 'good luck' to the purchaser who released them. Half way through the visit Vikki had to quickly take herself off to experience the facilities since an underlying grumbling was proving to be a suspicious danger, Alun's saying of "never trust a fart" sprung to mind. Poor Vikki came back looking traumatised since the facilities turned out to be a men's public toilet with, how shall we say, less than average hygiene, and for men. As Vikki was taking her time to clear herself out, Paula had the pleasure of viewing hundreds of golden Buddha statues which all looked the same and was trying hard to look enthralled by the guides enthusiastic commentary on the stories behind each pose...

Coinciding with Vikki's return the tour guide was in the middle of a conversation on his mobile and with an ever urgent look growing on his face. Phone call ended he turned and told us that in fact we were not his 'tourists', he had picked up the wrong two people and the woman he had been speaking with was our correct tour guide, she was livid with him, in turn he was a little agitated that we hadn't realised he was not our guide?? Back into our soon to be departed VIP minibus we sped back to our accommodation with no guarantee that our guide and group would wait for us. Twenty minutes later we were back at the guesthouse, flung out, and guessed that the minibus over the way was in fact our correct transport, opening the door we found a group of dull frustrated faces looking back at us and knew it was the right one! Uncomfortable silence ensued for the main part of the journey to our first 'planned' destination. Yey! We almost wished we'd stayed on the temple tour.

Finally underway, ............oh my God, let us out!!......... the driver was a kamikaze maniac and the normally chilled out Vikki was a little tense, strangely Paula was much calmer, maybe accepting that Vikki was worrying enough for two people. We did however arrive at the floating market on time and disembarked the minibus from hell to be greeted by the lovely scent of the stagnant water that made up the winding labyrinthine waterways of the floating market. Stench aside, the floating market was an explosion of colour and craziness - like Venice on acid! We avoided the pontificating of the rest of our group and climbed aboard a rickety dug-out boat and set sail into the heart of the melee, accosted from all sides by traders in conical hats selling all sorts of tat (that's the Christmas presents sorted then!) - it was the epitome of what you would imagine an Asian market to be, lots of cheeping and sparkly useless baubles being thrust in your face from all directions! We were only interested in a cold drink as by now the hangovers had well and truly kicked in! no sooner said than done, a woman in a boat laden with huge blocks of ice furnished us with two cans of Sprite and some bottled water, and all was right with the world again...

After being mesmerised by the endless curios from the 70's we disembarked the boat and within seconds had a ceramic plate shoved in our faces, and yes looking back at us on those plates, a photograph of the two of us sitting in the boat when we embarked! After a good hard laugh we considered the plate and thought what a good present it would make for our housemates Rach and Mia, job done, plate purchased for the princely sum of £1.30.

With hangover bellies kicking in we went in search of some food, we happened to pass a billboard poster of a rotund Asian woman holding out a bowl of noodle soup and even though her face looked like she had plastered it in talcum powder we thought that we needed to find someone just like her. We rounded a corner and, as if by magic, there she was! The living breathing talcum powder lady, a vision in cerise! We screeched like girls and then ordered some Tom Yum soup from her which she expertly prepared on her floating kitchen...just what the Geisha ordered! We ate in the shadow of a lounging dog with the biggest gonads you have ever seen and then returned to the jetty to board a long-tailed boat for a tour of the floating village interspersed with sewerage canals - nice....

The minibus saga continued afterwards with some initial confusion about who was going where, who was going to drive them and why - shortly followed by a hair raising kamikaze ride to our lunch stop which turned out to be a Thai version of a motorway café with lots of flies. After a quick, indigestion inducing lunch we hopped back on the bus of doom and slogged our way through traffic madness to Kanchanaburi - the site of the bridge over the River Kwai and the Jeath Museum where we were given about three seconds to see the sites. We were literally flung off the bus, given no direction or guidance and wandered bewildered for some time until we spotted the bridge! Despite the sombre past and the sad history of the bridge (one PoW life was lost for every railway sleeper laid) the area was beautiful, with floating restaurants, manicured gardens and ornate temples. We walked over the bridge contemplating the huge sacrifice that was made to build it, and then returned very reluctantly to our bus to continue the rollercoaster ride to our next destination: 'Tiger Temple'. It was at this point that our miserable driver was joined by, what can only loosely be described as, our 'guide' who was equally miserable and ignorant!

Arriving at the Temple, Paula was told that she would have to remove her bandana as the Tigers would go for the red colour - we decided to take our chances and walked through 'Tiger Canyon' where we joined a long queue to pet several tigers chained to the ground with a monk sitting on one of them and spraying it in the face with water every now and then. We made a mental note to only do activities that had true conservation in mind from now on - this seemed very inappropriate to us and we were sad for the poor majestic animals. After leaving the enclosure we discovered a very young cub hidden away in what appeared to be an old cage beneath a papier-mâché den - it was really distressed and more so when large camera lenses were thrust in it's face! We felt so sorry for it. Moving on, we happened upon a happier and healthier adolescent cub who was posing for photographs (the trials and tribulations of being a spectacle). We stayed out of the madding crowd to avoid distressing the cub but the cub caught sight of Vikki just a few metres away and, with intrigue, decided to investigate! She must have had the fragrance of a big steak as the little cat decided he would bat a paw at her arm to see if she wanted to play - much to the frustration of the waiting tourist photography pack who rushed to get a shot of the curious exchange.

Leaving cats behind we passed some brown bears lolling and lazing in their dens - it didn't take long for Vikki to point out that the bears had something in common with Paula - equally stressed in their environment the poor bears fur had become patchy and follicly challenged!

We decided it was time to leave and started our journey home and with the end in sight the driving manoeuvres became ever more erratic - to the point where Vikki told him off in a very firm voice indeed! He slowed a bit. A couple of hours later his impatience was obvious as he threw everyone off his bus in the middle of a major roundabout! Tosser!

Undeterred, we went for a really yummy Tom Yum Gung on the Khaosan Road - job done, hand out, Tuk-Tuk home...(via a pit-stop with a street vendor to buy lovely canary yellow shirts to wear on the Kings birthday tomorrow).
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annewardell on

Poor baby kittens, and poor little bears with alopecia (bring them back to UK so that we can look after them!). Really looking forward to seeing the high-quality Christmas pressies!! Xxxxxx

Sue on

Hope you found something tasteful for Chris and Heather's wedding gift...

Nutter on

I liked this day a lot. x

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