Published: February 28th 2012February 8th 2012
Can I keep him?
Can you believe my parents wouldn't let me bring this guy home?
On Wednesday, Griff and I did a tour that took us to Kanchanaburi Province, about 120km from Bangkok. The tour was to include some war history, traveling on the Death Railway, an elephant ride, and going to a tiger sanctuary. We were told that we’d be picked up by the tour company at 6:30am. Sooooo early. What made it worse was that they were early picking us up. I gulped a banana (grown locally – so good!) and hopped into the van. We drove through Bangkok for maybe half an hour, and then the driver told us we had to switch vans. We were right across from a hotel with these two girls waiting outside, but we didn’t pick them up. At the time, I was thinking that maybe they were doing another tour, but no, we saw them later on. After we were in van #2, we drove through Bangkok some more and met up with another van. We hopped in, and there were maybe eight other passengers inside. 3 vans and we’re finally in the correct one, right? Wrong. A moment after the lady took our voucher, she asked us to get out of the van and into a
Standing on the tracks on the Bridge over the River Kwai.
taxi with this Thai man. We drove again through Bangkok for awhile before getting dropped off in a hostel district. There were several 15-passenger vans there with passengers. We were taken to a woman who was coordinating all the vans. She gave us different coloured stickers for our shirts to indicate some of the excursions we would be going on and put us in a van. For those counting, this was the fifth and final vehicle we rode in that morning, and this was about an hour and a half after we were picked up. It took just over two hours for us to get to our first destination, the war cemetery.
We spent about twenty minutes at the war cemetery before going to the war museum. That was covered with our tour. The museum was rather graphic in terms of how some of the soldiers were depicted.
We had about forty minutes to go to the museum and check out the old railway bridge going over the River Kwai. As we were walking towards the bridge, we saw a leopard cub being bottle-fed by a tourist. It was adorable. When I learned that I could also do
My new tiger buddy decides to hide on the camera.
this for a nominal donation towards a facility that helps to take care of abandoned animals. For the record, I’ve never bottle-fed a human, never mind a leopard. It was a really humbling experience. It was so cute and cuddly! I was even invited to kiss it. Griff took the opportunity to feed the cub as well. It nipped Griff after he fed it. Nothing serious though.
After, we went back in the van and went to a railway station. We caught the train and went up the Death Railway parallel to the River Kwai. We sat in third class seating. It was pretty good! We could’ve upgraded to the “special class”, and received complimentary beverages and had a guaranteed seat, but we were only going to be on the train for an hour. As it turned out, we were able to find a seat in our car. I got chatting with an older gentleman about my camera and the pros and cons of having such a slim point and shoot camera.
Next was lunch. We drove to a floating restaurant. It definitely wasn’t like Jumbo, the floating restaurant we went to in Hong Kong, but I liked
Lest We Forget
A view of the War Memorial.
that it wasn’t commercialized at all. Some of the members of our group were actually going to stay on that raft for a couple nights. It was…rustic.
We had to eat our lunch quickly to go for our elephant ride. We drove for about twenty minutes to an elephant farm(?). Surprisingly, we were the only tourists there at the time. Griff cut his leg boarding the elephant and was first aided upon our return. I offered to first aid him, but he decided to go with the folks there. The elephant ride was a lot of fun. We toured around the area. We also had the opportunity to feed it some bamboo shoots. That was probably my favourite part. Our guide also took photos of us with my camera when we stopped to feed it. He was really nice. We bought a photo of us after our ride for 200฿. Quite reasonable, considering it came with a frame (made from recycled dung!).
We met some of our tour group back at a local waterfall. We only had a couple minutes there, because we’d done our side venture to the elephant farm. Our time at the tiger sanctuary was
View from the bridge of the River Kwai.
limited due to our packed schedule. We were able to pet a few different tigers and pose with them. The sanctuary staff were really good about taking photographs for you. We went to one section where we were led by the hand to a few different tigers with another staff member taking photos. I probably got to pet about a dozen tigers in total. After that, we got to go “exercise” with the tigers – go for a walk with them. It was like taking a dog for a walk, except that I didn’t get to hold the leash, of course.
At that point, we went back to the entrance and the tour guides coordinated the vans of passengers. In our 15-passenger van we had…15 passengers. The A/C was weak, it was about 40 degrees with the humidity, and we were sitting near the back. It was packed. Some tourists had luggage as well because they had done one of the multiple day tours. The drive back to Bangkok was a pain for a few reasons:
1. It was rush hour.
2. We had a billion passengers in the van.
3. We then had to drop
Kate rides the 3rd class car.
off all these people. It would be like going to Stratford for the day, but then dropping off passengers between Mississauga and Pickering. And of course we were the final passengers dropped off.
It took 4.5 hours to get back from the tiger sanctuary. I had been most excited about the tigers, but I think the leopard cub stole the spotlight on the day.
There are more photos below