Published: January 19th 2009January 16th 2009
Display at the War Museum
Not sure what this has to do with WWII. maybe it was the buffalo brigade!
We arrived back in Bangkok bus station without any real plans on what we were going to do for the last few nights before Pam flew back. We decided on the Patpong area because someone had recommended it and it was close to the skytrain route. Patpong is quite a touristy area famous for it's night market, pole dancing bars and ping pong shows. Since we only had a couple of days before Pam flew home we opted for a more upmarket hotel (one with hot water, AC and a slightly smaller mosquito count), which compared to the accommodation we'd had during our previous few weeks was real luxury.
Pam was quite keen on seeing more tigers so we booked a one day tour up to Kanchanaburi; home to famous bridge on the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.
We were picked up from the hotel at an eye watering 6am and driven the 3 hours north/west to Kanchanaburi where we first visited the Commonwealth Cemetery for the POW's that were killed during the construction of the "death" railway followed by a visit to the WWII museum. The museum was a little bit poor, I don't want to take
anything away from the horribleness that went on during the war, but it surely deserves a better memorial than that, there are very crudely made models and murals and a few original cars and bombs. We were given two hours to visit the museum and bridge and we must have done it all within one hour. Next we went for lunch at a very cool floating restaurant, the food was quite simple but the view of the river was quite breathtaking. We were bundled back in the bus again and taken to waterfall that the kids were using as a waterpark. It turns out that it was national children's day in Thailand and I guess it's the day that all the kids get to go out and have fun. It was really interesting to see how little heath and safety there was, they just don't have the same blame culture we have.
Finally we got to the tiger temple or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua to give it's proper name. It started out as an animal sanctuary with a few orphaned tiger cubs. Tigers are now the mane focus of the place (although there's lots of other animals wondering
around) and certainly a huge tourist attraction. For 500 baht (£10) you get access to the temple and can have your photo taken with about 5 different tigers (only by yourself). If you feel like splashing out an extra 1,500 baht (£30) on top of the entrance fee you can have a "special photo" in which you lie down with the tiger's paw around you, or its head on your lap and you and 4 more people in the background. It felt like a really crazy system. It was nothing like the tiger experience in Chiang Mai where you got 20 minutes in the cage with the tigers and could actually play with them. This felt like a conveyor belt of people being taken between the sleeping tigers, snap, snap, snap and you're done. To be fair there was a little area with a few tiger cubs that you could go and stroke but overall my experience of the day was a little disappointing.
We didn't realise it but because there was an election on the Sunday, the government suspends all alcohol sales (as if you'd get drunk and vote for the wrong person) which put a bit of
a dampner on Pams last night, luckily we had a minibar in the room from which we managed a few bottles of beer and a bottle of gin.
It was really sad to see Pam leave the next day, it's a bit weird to be living in somebody's pocket for three weeks, then all of a sudden they're gone. At least it was only for three weeks till the next time we see each other. We said our goodbyes, she got into a taxi to the airport and I headed to a nearby hostel called LUB*D which sounded a little ominous but tuned out to be quite nice and modern.
I spent the rest of the week getting lost around Bangkok, didn't have a lot of energy and didn't really feel like socialising too much so I spent a lot of time chilling in the park watching the lizards trying to catch birds and managed to get to the cinema three times, the movies weren't really up to much (Madagascar 2, Quarantine and The day the earth stood still) but I did see 2 of them in the IMAX theatre which really was breathtaking. The cinemas in the
Siam shopping centre are really good, probably better than most of the one's back home, but there is one very strange tradition that seems to catch a few non Thai's out. Before the movie starts they play the national anthem and show a little video of people going abut there lives with pictures of the King in the background. During this you're expected to stand, but there where always a few westerners nearer the front who sat through the whole thing - oblivious to the dirty look they were getting from the Thai's.
Whilst I'm on the subject, there are photos of the King everywhere - every shop, home, even by the roadside there's one of about 6 different photo's of His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great in various poses. The Thai's truly love him, you're even warned in the guidebooks not the insult the royal family. I think he's seen as a semi-divine figure, chosen by god.
My last night in the hostel was a bit of a nightmare, somehow the room had become infested with mosquitoes (or maybe it was just 2 or 3 very big ones), a few people actually left the room. I woke
up the next day covered in bites. I must have at least 50 on my body and I counted 17 on my face alone.
For my last day in Bangkok I treated myself to another foot massage and insisted on getting the strongest looking girl in the shop to do it (the last one I had was a bit pathetic). I felt like I was walking on air afterwards.
I've joined my last Intrepid group now that will take me on the last leg of my journey down to Singapore. They seem like a good bunch but there's a bit of a sex imbalance with 9 girls and only 3 boys. But because the other to guys are in couples it means that I get a room to myself every night, so I'm not complaining.
There are more photos below