By Road, Rail, Boat And Elephant
Mar 10, 2009
|What an extraordinary day of mixed experiences and emotions.
We left Bangkok at 7am to head up towards Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai. But this was to be a day filled with a wide variety of experiences.
Our first brief stop was the salt pans to see the harvesting of sea salt (to the south east of Bangkok near the Gulf of Thailand). This was followed by a brief stop to see the extraction by traditional methods of sugar from coconut oil.
The main stop of the morning was to take a "long tailed" speed boat along a man made canal (linking two main rivers) to a floating market - filled with the smells of cooking, spices and herbs, fruits and vegetables. The market is filled with boats somehow missing each other and the noise the "shoppers" and boats all around. We had to make some purchases so we settled on two large bags of saffron (at 50 Baht each - about a pound) and some cinnamon).
Another brief stop to see some excellent wood carving craftsmen and women working in teak. some wonderful intricate work.
Then on to our restaurant for lunch overlooking the River Kwai and one of the main bridges that make up the Burma Railway / The Death Railway. The Japanese had expected this bridge to take 2 months to build from hand cut wood (by POWs!) - It took 17 days !!!!
It was a hot day today and we were running with perspiration and it was very humbling to think that the POW had been forced to work on minimal rations in what were then jungle conditions. It is also ironic that this is a very picturesque area and it is now a hotel and resort area - but sue respect is given to the areas past.
After lunch we went by train on a section of the railway over the aforementioned bridge.
The train progressed slowly and seemingly solemnly over this section and it was hard not to think of the effort that had gone into constructing this part of the railway.
We next headed for a place to take a very different view of the River Kwai and a somewhat close one! An elephant ride!. All was going well as we sat in our seat on the back of the elephant the handler took the elephant down into the river and back up the steep bank and through some of the forest area before stopping, jumping down and offering to take our photo. he then suggested that I (John) slid down onto the elephants neck and that I should "drive" so mahoot John was now driving memsahib Sandra on an elephant. Waht a great experience.
We finished the day at the Krungshi Kwai River Hotel right on the Kwai. A quick swim and now very exhausted!