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May 12th 2008
Published: May 12th 2008
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Well, here we go again. I am sitting in Vientiane in one of the many internet cafes and I am tiered as hell. We just arrived from a 12 hour train trip from Bangkok and are happy to stretch our legs.

But let’s start from the beginning.

As you all know we left Sydney on Friday morning. The flight was at 9.40am, but since I wanted to get a window seast I made sure that we all were at the airport at 7 am. Guess what, the ticket counter wasn’t even open so we had to wait for about 30 minutes to be checked in. Now I am pretty much every time on time or earlier, but this one was pretty much over the top. Ah well, shit happens.

The flight from Sydney was pretty much uneventful, as every flight is. The only funny part is that Peter, who is on a really tight budget, thought that one has to pay for the drinks, so he sipped water all the way. About an hour before we touched down we informed him that the drinks are free. You should have seen his face. Priceless.

After we arrived in Bangkok we checked into a hotel in the Chinatown part of the city. Felt like we were at home in Sydney.

And then we started walking. Now Peter, Michael and Allan have never been in BK and I haven’t been there for about 4 years. As you can imagine the weather is very hot and humid and coming from the cold Sydney weather is was a bit of a shock.

At night we checked out the Patpong district, which is where all the bars are. When I was there 20 years ago it was a sleazy area and had a certain charm to it. Today it is all slick and modern and somehow the feeling is not the same.

On Saturday morning we had a pretty early start at 6 am. We had organized a driver, for US$100, to drive us around all day. First we hit the floating markets, which is just a tourist trap. You paddle around in a boat and get from one trader to the other. All what they sell is tourist crap and after about 10 minutes you want to get out of the boat.

From the markets we had about a 2 hour drive to get to our next destination, the bridge on river Kwai. Now I think that everybody has seen the movie, so one has certain expectations. Well, don’t have any romantic ones. It is nothing like in the movie. The bridge is there and when you think about the history you would think that they treat the area with a bit of respect. Not here. The whole place is like Disneyland. Shops everywhere and tour groups from one end to the other. The only interesting part was to walk over the bridge.

After about an hour boxing our way through the masses and some lunch we took off again to Hellfire Pass. Now Hellfire Pass is an area where the prisoner of war during the Second World War cut through mountains with more or less their bare hands. Over 12.000 people died building the train line in the most horrific ways. At Hellfire Pass the Thai government build a small museum that is well worth visiting. It is done with respect and gives you an idea what was going on. After the visit to the museum you then walk about 300 meters to reach the actual pass.

It is very strange to walk around the railway track that was build by these poor souls 60 years ago. To think what has happened right at the spot one is walking is a strange think and one can only imagine how much mental strength it would take to get through that ordeal.

After about an hour at the pass we decided it was time to get back into BK. It took us nearly 3 hours to get through the traffic which is just a mad thing. Think about Sydney peak hour traffic and then multiply it by 10. It is just crazy.

On Sunday we just walked around and did some shopping. Nearly all of us just brought the bare essentials and the rest we have to buy. Everything from underwear to shirts and backpacks was purchased.

At 7 pm we went to the train station were our train was due to leave at 8.40. Thai time! We left about 10.30 pm.

Well, and now we are here in Lao and getting ready for the hash House Harrier run tonight.

That’s what happened so far. Tomorrow night we are off to Vhan Vhien for some tubing down the river and some R&R. I think we need it after all the walking and the run tonight.

Additional photos below
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12th May 2008

Whooooooooo hooooooooo!!!! Wish I was tubin' with you!!!! Have a couple of coldies for me!

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