Published: December 9th 2011December 9th 2011
Our guide book promises 'Kanchanaburi is a rewarding place to visit at any time of year.' If you ask me, timing your trip to 'Kan' with the Bridge Over the River Kwai festival is the only way to go. What is billed as a mere sound and light show is, in reality, much more than that. We were treated to a full-on historical reenactment complete with Japanese guards and prisoners, a steam train, a (remote control) plane dropping (firework) bombs and a flag-waving, firework-exploding finale. All in all, very rewarding indeed.
'The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.' So said Rudyard Kipling but that's not necessarily good advice in Asia. It stinks. Think sweat and sewers, think drying fish and exhuast fumes, then imagine the whole stinking lot mingling, hanging like steam in a sauna. In stark contrast, when you arrive at Koh Chang (perhaps the least developed of Thailand's developed islands, if you see what I mean) the air smells of fresh herbs and fresh sea-breeze. But for all its sweet-smelling promise, Koh Chang would be the place that divided opinion. M liked it; I did not.
'But it's an island paradise,' M said.
'Then why is there so much litter?' I wanted to know.
And that, in a nutshell, was the case for each side. For four days, the jury was hung. Then the grey clouds descended, the sunshine got in a boat for the mainland and we followed shortly after.