Kanchanaburi is a city in the west of Thailand that is known for some WWII historical sites, most notably the "death railway" as well as some waterfalls. I arrived in the town at about 10:45 and got a ride via bike taxi to my hotel. Finding a ride to my hotel, the Tara Bed and Breakfast, was a bit difficult at first due to communication issues. I pronounced this hotel "tare-uh bed and breakfast," the Thai apparently just say "talabed." So luckily one taxi-bike driver had a brochure from the hotel to confirm where I wanted to go. I settled into my room and then headed back down to the lobby to schedule a tour. I scheduled a full day tour for Friday and headed out for a solo adventure for that afternoon. I took a bus about an hour and a half to the Sai Yok Noi waterfall. This waterfall was very beautiful. The rocks were very smooth, but not slippery at all, which makes this an ideal place to swim and play around in the waterfall (which is allowed). There wasn't much else to see around here, the waterfall was just off the side of the highway, so after about a half hour or so I caught the bus back to town and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
I woke up early Friday morning for my tour, which started at 8am. My group included an Israeli family and an Italian couple. We drove to Erawan National Park first to see the Erawan waterfall. This waterfall is actually a series of seven different falls stretching across 2 kilometers. The falls are absolutely beautiful because they empty into bright blue pools of water. I haven't confirmed this but I think there must be some sort of mineral deposit on the rocks causing the blue color. Again the rocks were all very smooth here and the water just glides over them, it is really beautiful. Swimming is also allowed here, and believe me after walking all the way to the top, you need a swim to wash the sweat off! We met back at the parking lot of the park to have lunch, and I sat with the Italian couple and taught them how to say "I don't understand" (mai kow jai) and "I don't know" (mai lou) and told them what other Thai foods they should try, besides Pad Thai which was apparently all they'd been eating. After lunch we drove to an elephant camp, and although I don't exactly approve of captive elephants being used for entertainment/tourism, I have to admit it was awesome being able to ride an elephant. At first I was sitting on the seat on the elephants back and the mahout was on her head, then he took my camera and jumped off. He took a couple of pictures and then told me to move down and sit on her neck. So I guess you could say I rode an elephant bareback. It is hard to balance on such a big animal and it was a little scary. It is so amazing how huge they are, the ridge of the top of her ear was about as big as my forearm. After the elephant ride we took a brief ride down the River Kwai on a bamboo raft and then headed to the death railway. We took a little ride on the death railway train and ended our day at the bridge over the River Kwai. This railroad and railway bride were built during WWII by allied POWs and Asian laborers. The Japanese were trying to expand west across Asia and wanted to build the railway to Burma. Apparently over 100,000 workers died during its construction, mostly due to malaria.
A common bridle snake struggling in the river. Lucky spot! :) (harmless colubrid)
grabbing a snack
the River Kwai
Bridge over the River Kwai
so many bananas!!
hotel kitty :)
When we finally got back to the hotel I ran to 7-Eleven to grab a quick dinner and then got on the minibus my tour guide had helped me arrange, which would take me to a more convenient location in Bangkok than the regular bus. A Dutch woman who was headed to the Sai Tai Mai terminal in Bangkok needed to get there by 9pm to catch the last bus to Koh Chang, so our driver went VERY fast. When we got back to Bangkok we drove through the tourist area near the river and Khao San road. I haven't really spent much time in this area so it was really cool to see it at night. All the trees were lit up with white lights and it was really beautiful. I was dropped off at a BTS station and took the Skytrain to my usual hotel. Unfortunately the day before when I'd tried to book the room for Friday night there hotel was all booked up, so I had to find a new one nearby. I had to stop at the first hotel though to get the rest of my luggage. I then lugged my huge bag and two backpacks up the stairs to the Skyrain and took it three stops to the Rainforest Guesthouse. I will not be staying here again. I got there at about 10pm, and the man at the front was sort of mad because apparently I thought have gotten there by 9:00. How was I to know that? Anyway he carried my bag up the three stories to my room at least. When we got into my room it smelled like poop, literally. the man definitely noticed it but did nothing about it and I wasn't in the mood to do anything but shower and sleep. I showered and found that the toilet leaked profusely when flushed, which is probably why it smelled like poop. Then I tried to turn on the TV, and I noticed something that definitely looked like a spark inside. I probably left it on a little too long to see what would happen and my room ended up smelling like burned plastic rather than poop. If you thought it couldn't get worse, you would be wrong. At 3:00am I was jolted awake by someone vigorously trying the handle of my door. I have no idea what that was about but it scared me enough for me to get my machete and leave it on my bedside table for the rest of the night. So, basically, avoid the Rainforest Guesthouse at all costs, the free breakfast was not worth the trouble.