Up at what seems a reasonable time and meet Peter with Joe and Ashley in the lobby at 7:30 then head off on our day’s adventure. Our first item of interest was passing the salt flats west of Bangkok – they fill the ponds then in a few weeks they dry up and the remaining salt is removed. It is then sent to be cleaned and sold. There were many stalls selling salt from small containers to 50 pound bags!
We then made our first stop where we were given a demonstration of making coconut sugar. Still not quite sure how it’s done but Peter pointed out a bunch of stuff then shredded a coconut, then some folks were boiling it and it made sugar. The demonstration took five minutes then we had 45 minutes to shop.
Then off again to the floating market at Damneon Saduak. Peter got us a boat and we were paddled around the canals going past food and souvenir stalls. Folks at the stalls had hooks where they could grab the boats to hold in place as they made deals. There were paddle boats and long tail boats with powerful motors all in the same space – about 15 foot wide canal. It was quite hectic and there was almost nothingthat a local person could be interested in other than the food boats. Still it was interesting to get a glimpse of what it was probably like.
After we got off the boat we visited the local stalls and got a few items that were probably overpriced. We also saw a snake man getting people to have pictures taken with his snake, and probably the politest policeman directing traffic I ever saw! He smiled at everyone, bowed when he asked cars to stop.
We then continued on for over an hour to Kanchanaburi where we had lunch on a floating restaurant on the Kwai River with the famous bridge in the background. We had a nice buffet lunch then went to look at the huge school of fish that Peter was feeding, then off to the bridge itself.
It is still an active bridge although over half of the original rail line has been abandoned. The original tracks were of a narrower gauge and are still on the bridge. The curves supports are also original. We walked across the bridge and then back again – it was really hot! There was also a large Chinese temple next to the bridge. Anyway, we went in to some stalls and I got a t-shirt.
We then headed over to the cemetery of those prisoners who died – although 18,000 died most of the remains had been returned home. There were also 80,000 Asians who died making the railway as well. The cemetery was a somber place with names and dates and unit. In the brief time we spent there we noticed that the deaths seemed to occur in clusters – like an epidemic or something.
Then to the JAETH (Japan, England, American and Australia, Thailand, and Holland) museum with many photos and drawings of what went on during the captivity all in a reproduction of one of the shelters. The photos were of the early war years then drawings, from what looked like the same artist, documented the various maltreatments of the prisoners. There was also a relic museum with various items that the prisoners had exchanged with the locals for food or other items as well as the bomb casing from one of the bombs dropped on the bridge in 1944 that failed to explode.
We got back in the van and headed back to Bangkok. Ione stop at a gas station with really smelly toilets and then into the traffic jam that is Bangkok. We saw many motorcyclists with babies in front, and they just weaved through the traffic to get to the front. We finally got back to the hotel and said goodbye to Joe and Ashley as we’re leaving at noon tomorrow – they’re headed out at 11:00 PM.
Back to the rooms for a bit then down to the lobby and ask about dinner. The concierge recommended a restaurant across the river and called a water taxi for us. We got lost trying to find the pier but eventually found it. The boat was about to leave but we got on and headed over the river.
A bit surprised at the menu in that it included curried frog and wild boar, but we got curry and some other dishes. The curry was really hot but all in all pretty good. Back across to the hotel and Alice went to her room and we went and did a little shopping to use up some money. Then some packing and to bed!