Published: June 2nd 2012June 1st 2012
Well who would have believed what we would do today!!!
To begin with we headed off to the Jeath War Museum. Jeath is a mneumonic and stands for: J –Japan; E-England; A- America and Australia (maybe Australasia); T-Thailand; and H-Holland. The use of JEATH as opposed to DEATH is because the latter is deemed to be too horrific. The atrocities towards the local people and the Prisoners of War were too cruel to contemplate with 100,000 people losing their lives. These people under the control of the Japanese, were forced into building a bridge in 16 months that experts said would take a minimum of five years.
The Bridge over the River Kwai was built to bridge the gap between Thailand and Burma but was bombed towards the end of the war and rebuilt to what it is today. The museum, one of many in the town, although there to attract tourists is very poorly presented with a wide range of newspaper cuttings, photos of the time and many descriptive paintings depicting the life of the prisoners and the depravity they endured. All resources were in very poor condition. Another museum in town was a
much better example as it had better resources, better presented and staged scenes.
Consequently, the visit took no time at all and from here we walked the short distance passed some local stalls to our accommodation on the water. For the rest of the day and night we stayed here and it was actually like a floating restaurant and pulled by a small boat with a 6 hp motor at very slow speed. Still it has been relaxing moving down the river and being able to see some industry and landmarks from it.
The first stop off point was at a Thai temple and initially I was thinking whether or not I could be bothered until I saw that there was this enormous dragon on the hill and steps going up into its mouth. Our guide informed us that there were over two hundred steps if we went to the top of the dragon and the top beyond the dragon was pretty vertical and a long way away with yet another hundred or so steps. So nobody likes a challenge more than me so I was up for it. I also considered it training
for the trek as the first day will be pretty gruelling. The heat made it tough going with the perspiration just dripping off me. I am sure you will appreciate the effort when you look at the photos.
The voice droned on. Yes. The whole time we were in hearing distance of this particular temple, a voice continued to espouse doctrine from its scriptures but to whom? We were tourists and did not understand and there appeared to be few others around the place, and even fewer monks were observed. On our return from up the river we stopped outside this temple and it would have been 10.oopm before the voice stopped.
So back to the floating boat for a lunch provided by Intrepid and off to the next temple. This one you could see from miles away as the complex was enormous with many different building structures ornately presented in traditional colours with all the buildings placed on the side of a hill. Once again it was to be a day of steps and another 160 to conquer. I expect my legs will be sore tomorrow. The structures of these temples are amazing
and would have taken considerable time to build as well as a large labour force. I am blown away by the beauty the monks create and the quality of the tiles and their design and colour’s used on every floor. Shoes are never worn inside the temples.
On our return from the last temple of the day, we were given the option of putting on our togs and tubing down the river behind the boat. Well that was readily received by nearly all of us and as I had already had a swim in the river the day before and came to no harm I decided I would join in the fun and fun it was. Firstly I had a tube that was too small and gave me no control and understandably for me I did not really want to fall into the river so Casper and I swapped our tubes over with much hilarity...he was much happier about getting into the water proper actually letting his head go under the water. Sar said that the water was as deep as 12 metres in part and nothing much in the river that could eat us.
The meals we had prepared for us were excellent with a range of spicy hot to just tasty. With a nice beer it just topped off the evening meal whilst we discussed who was likely to sing as part of the karaoke evening planned for us. Sadly, one beer before tea for me was enough to send me to bed long before the karaoke began, but I did listen to Stuart and Casper attempt to sing. Not sure if it was their singing or not but it was not long before I was sound asleep.
Sleeping under the mosquito neat outside on a hard mattress with the heat of the evening made the sleeping a stifling experience and required some self- control. The biggest consolation was that I never heard anyone snore, although I was told this morning that people had.
The day started with the light and most of us were up waiting for a light breakfast of fried rice or toast and jam and bananas. Whilst we ate, the small boat towed us back up the river and back to our starting point. A short bus ride back to the accommodation
of the previous night and a hot shower was a great way to get the day underway.
Once our ablutions were out the way we hopped into the air conditioned minivan and headed for Ayutthaya which is about one hour from Kinanchiburi and also Bangkok. Travelling through the countryside made one realise how similar the landscape has been in the small towns and villages. Here though the industry was agricultural with heaps of paddie fields lining the roads.
After lunch and a quick swim it was time to visit three more temples. The heat was too oppressive for it to be totally enjoyable as one moved from shade to shade. At one of the temples there were 160 well- trod steps to climb and done with heavy treads due to sore muscles from the day before.
To ensure my readiness for the train journey tonight I have just eaten my tea of fruit salad and a banana shake made with real bananas and ice. I feel quite full especially as I had a pancake at the market that was impregnated with banana and smothered in condensed milk. I am sure very
fattening, but thoroughly worth it.
Ahh the train ride. Very modern in comparison with New Zealand trains. The seats all folded out to very comfortable bunk beds and privacy. A Thai man came along and made our beds for us with very fresh clean linen including a pillow and blanket and also hung a curtain so that we had privacy from other sleepers. We were supposed to leave at 7.30pm but finally got on the train just before 9pm. I had a figured that if I took the sleeping pill before we left the station y the time it was time to hope into bed I would be right although I panicked a bit when they train appeared to be further delayed. Still, I got into bed and settled down and was asleep in no time and unlike the others I did not hear any snoring.
The morning began really early though and anticipating an early start off the train I took the time to relax and read a new book I have started. Harold had just finished a Jonathan Kellerman book called Mystery and as I like the author he has loaned it
to me. My book I gave to Emma. Sadly, three hours and no breakfast later, the train finally arrived in Chiang Mai and we were finally off to our hotel.
The hotel is called the Peoples Palace and it has no lifts and we are all on the fourth floor. It was a mission to cart my heavy backpack and me to the top floor and then find that the air conditioning did not work in the room. After a quick shower I was off to eat. Harold was the only one with nothing better to do as others had gone for supplies and four more off to the elephant show. I therefore by proxy got Harold and we went off and had a lovely Thai lunch together one of the many local markets. A young Burmese boy served us and he had faultless English.
After a quick wander around the markets and the purchase of a pair of shorts that I bartered for and a quick change from my hot skirt into the shorts, Harold and I explored the market place. As we were walking passed one shop Harold spotted a pool table so we
went in and for the price of a drink we were allowed to use the table. Two games and a win each and it was back to the hotel for the next adventure which strangely enough will be yet another temple but more exercise too it seems. Only 300 or so steps...photo will be tomorrow for this one.
There are more photos below