Published: January 29th 2011January 29th 2011
Kanchanaburi- Naughty monkey!
Getting up early in Bangkok before the partiers started to nurse their hangovers from the night before, we grabbed a taxi and headed to the bus station. It was actually really easy to get here, and we even got to split a songthaew (modified pickup truck with benches in the back to taxi people around) with a couple of fellow backpackers to get to our new home, the Jolly Frog. Our room proved to be extremely basic, but for 200 baht a night (about $6.50) what can you expect? We DID have our own private bathroom and a fan, complete with a cold shower and an interesting toilet. When you look at the picture, notice the 5 gallon pale to the side with a bowl resting on the water. Simply dump it into the toilet after you do your business, and, wallaahh! The toilet is “flushed”. We shared our balcony with some noisy friends, lizards all over the ceilings and walls outside, and actually needed a key to turn the electricity on in our room. The worst part, however, was having miniature ants in the bed, so small that you could barely see them. Yeah…we’re definitely
sleeping in our sleep sheets at night!
Our first night we ventured into town and took a walk down to the Kwai River and over the historic bridge. The view was beautiful, and the bridge filled with tourists. As we walked about half way down the bridge, we heard the whistle of a train coming…yes, onto the bridge we were standing on. We quickly realized that those weren’t look out points on the bridge, they were to get your butt out of the way when the train comes. It was funny how many people thought it was a good idea to stay on the tracks as the train came over the bridge to get a good picture. The engineer just kept blowing that whistle as if to say, “Are you kidding me? Get out of my way. I’m not stopping!”
At night we started thinking about what a weird vibe the town had as we began noticing all of the western men here, not women, only men. Of course, 90% of them were accompanied by a Thai woman, what a surprise. We do have to say, all of the locals were very nice to us and we let
our high guard down a little bit with nobody trying to run scams on us at every turn. So, we sit down to a delicious dinner with a non-typical movie choice that included scenes of people being disemboweled and decapitated, not to mention naked women, when Nate feels something crawl up his foot and quickly onto his calf. He looks down and immediately smacks something off of his leg and onto the floor. He grins at Jessie and says, “I just had a cockroach crawl up my leg.” As her eyes widen, she snaps her head down to look and while lifting her feet off the ground. “Oh my God I hate those things!” We both decided it was better it happened to Nate so Jessie didn’t jump onto the table and knock all of our food onto the ground in front of everyone. We guarantee you, that's EXACTLY what would’ve happened. Let’s just say she watches the ground at all times now, jumping well out of the way of any bug on the street, or smacking her arm at the slightest touch on her skin. You really can’t blame her though.
We decided to get a history lesson
on Kanchanaburi, since that’s what it’s known for, to learn a little bit about the bridge and what makes this town so historic, so we spent some time at the Thailand Burma Railway Center. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, but we definitely got the history lesson we were looking for. Inside there were displays upon displays of the brutal conditions the POW’s from World War II were forced to endure while constructing the railroad and bridge for the Japanese. Honestly, neither of us ever knew anything like these even happened here, so we were glad we went. Although the treatment of the POW’s wasn't quite to the same extent, we couldn’t help but think about how similar this seemed to the concentration camps in Germany. It was an absolutely BRUTAL project for the workers, who literally looked like a kindergartener’s stick figure art project due to the lack of food provided for them.
Our most exciting day came when we took a day trip to Erawan Falls for a day of trekking up the mountain to see the different levels of waterfalls. Arriving at the 1st level, we noticed the monkeys in the trees after having just
seen a sign that said “beware of aggressive monkeys”. We thought about how we should keep our distance but then noticed the monkeys weren’t interested in us at all. They were honing in on a small family starting to enjoy some snacks on a bench close to the trees. One of the brave ones slowly crept down the tree and waited patiently, intently staring at the family. The dad grabbed a plastic bag with 2 bags of chips inside and set them on the table. The second he turned his back, that brave monkey was on the ground running up to the table, snatching the bag, and flying all the way up the tree before he could even get turned around again. We couldn’t help but laugh! Part of you thinks to yourself, that little shit! On the other hand, you know they were here long before tourists ever started to visit the falls, so can you really get upset at them? After our free entertainment, we started on our trek upward. Many of the falls proved to be absolutely beautiful, although not quite like the pictures you see around town that advertise them with photos from the wet season
where the main waterfall is flowing much heavier than this time of year. Jessie was the only one of us who decided to get in a cool off. Nate, on the other hand, decided that cold water and fish biting his feet to eat any dead skin they can find was enough to keep him sweating instead. We had a lot of fun but also decided there was a part of us that was ready to be away from the mass amounts of tourists for a while. Not to mention, on our way down, we noticed the hundreds of kids (girls from all girl schools) who were visiting the falls on a field trip. Hearing the screaming little girls jumping in and out the pools made us cringe a little bit at the thought of having kids. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE kids, but it’s still a bit of a scary thought!
After having a couple of relaxing days in Kanchanburi, we were off to Sukhothai. Having done our research on how to get there by bus, we had concluded we would have to take 3 different buses (switching at 2 bus stations), and it would we would
probably get there around 5:00 p.m. The reality, however, was a different story. We first started on our scooter cart taxi at about 9:30 in the morning. When all was said and done, we had taken 4 different buses and arrived in Sukhothai at 10:30 at night. We didn’t think about the other variable…how many locals the bus drivers would pick up along the way off the side of the road to take them to their destination along our route, or the miscellaneous items the locals would toss onto our bus to be delivered somewhere down the road so they didn’t have to haul them. It made for a long day, but yet again, the locals were extremely nice! Being the only westerners mixing in with all Thai locals, we stuck out like…well, like you’d expect 2 white people with blue eyes to stick out at bus stations filled with Thai people. As soon as we were spotted getting off the bus, someone working at the station would ask us where we were going and direct us where to purchase our tickets or where to get on the next bus. It was very different from Bangkok and a breath of
fresh air! So here we are now in Sukhothai, were we’ll spend the next few days before making our way to Chang Mai.
See ya there!
Xoxo Nate and Jessie Traveler Tips Getting There
Grab some other travelers to cut costs and take a songtheaw to the main road with all the guesthouses. Staying
We stayed at the Jolly Frog, which is right in the middle of everything and an easy walk to the bridge. Don't expect luxury here, everything is basic but very reasonable. The restaurant has a huge menu with very cheap food and there is a large lawn area with hammocks and chairs overlooking the river. There are some other budget options for accomodation but most are small with no common area. Eating
Along the main road are quite few restaurants and food carts, we stuck to the Jolly Frog for most meals do the the price. Transportation
Walking around town was easy to get to a few of the sites and museums. To get to Erawan falls you'll need to catch an autorickshaw back to the bus station and take a bus for 50B to the falls and back (about an hour ride).
We jumped off the bus early on the way back by the Burma-Thailand Railroad Musuem and walked back to our place.
There are more photos below