Published: April 11th 2012April 10th 2012
About 4 hours Drive West from Bangkok is kanchanaburi Province. Our accomodation was bordered by the River Kwai which flowed quickly and carried everything from speedboats to floating houses and restuarants.
Our firstday trip was to the Erawan waterfalls, 7 tiers and 5km of pathways... each with pools deep enough to swim in. Plenty of locals as wellas tourists and school groups spent the scorching hot day in the cooling pools and showers on water from the mountain. Even while you swim small fish bite at your ankles; the same fish they use in massages in the street in Bangkok.
The next outing was to one of Kanchanaburi's many temples. This one required a steep climb through the body of a concrete dragon up the mountainside. Inside we were blessed by the resident monk and learned how to worship temple Budha statues, burning inscence etc.
The next temple was much larger and grander, it was Tiger themed and at the top of it's tower it housed a supposed fragment of Badha's bone. Here the monks taught us meditation, apparently they meditate at least 8 hours a day. We spent around half an hour trying both sitting and walking
meditation... can't say I was overly enlightened, it was far too hot to relax. Staying at the temple was a German National Kung Fu Champion who had been teaching the trainee monks, we also gave us a few lessons on basic moves which just made the heat even more uncomfortable, but was fun to watch small monks flighting each other.
The next day a few of us took a speedboat trip to the River Kwai and the acompanying museum and semetary. All interesting history, however I did feel the effect of the Bridge itself had been ruined slightly by the tourist train you can pay to cross on which is painted like a rainbow.
Next day was the Tiger Temple and rescue centre. Here the monks and volunteers care for a show around 30 Asain Tigers apparently rescued from the local area around the Burmese border. The adult Tigers were all lying around and totally unbothered by the crowds around them,and only reluctantly got up to be walked. Apparently this was because they were so tired from their excersise, but I'm almost sure I saw a monk slip a pill down one of their throats. However there is
no denying the temple is helping to rescue and breed Tigers from a dangerous area so I guess you can't complain. We were later able to play with the adolescent Tigers, with paper bags and balloons attached to bamboo poles which they love to jump for. Having 15 or so half grown Tigers leaping around and toward you is quite a thrill.
On the way out of kanchanaburi, we stopped at another war museum at "hellfire pass". We walked down to the place where prisoners of war had been forced to cut into the mountain during the construction of the Burma railway. In the middle of a bamboo forest it is certainly a beautiful place, with a tasteful memorial overlooking the area at the museum.
There are more photos below