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Published: January 13th 2009
Khao San Road
The famous backpacker's hangout in Bangkok, it was all our traveling nightmares come true at once!
We crossed the border by bus back into Thailand a week before we are due to fly home to bonnie Scotland. As we drove into Bangkok we felt a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the city, huge modern skyscrapers rose up into the night sky illuminated by neon lights. It was as if we had travelled into the future, a bit strange after rustic Cambodia.
We spent a few days in Bangkok staying in the Banlamphu area near Khao San Road, a favourite backpacker destination. We hated it, it was busy, full of overpriced bars and restaurants and the people hanging around looked a bit haggard and hungover. Don't even get us started on the ridiculous outfits we saw people wearing here...anyway we took refuge for most of our time in a nice air-conditioned internet cafe catching up on our blogs!
From the outset of our SE Asia chapter of travel we had always intended to see a little more of Thailand before we flew out. So we chose to escape the grime of Bangkok and head two hours to the west for the town of Kanchanaburi. We found ourselves a cheap room on the edge of the
river Kwai which couln't have been a more perfect place to spend our last few days as it had a lovely swimming pool and chill out area, something we would make great use of over the coming days, swimming, sunbathing and reading. However, we did manage to drag ourselves away from the sun loungers one day to hire another motorbike to explore the town. Kanchanaburi is famed for the bridge on the river Kwai, also known as Death Bridge. This rail bridge was built by Prisoners of War during World War II. The living and working conditions were horrific, around 160,000 POWs and civilians were killed during its construction many dying from malnutrition, overworking and diseases such as malaria and dysentry. We went to visit the bridge and the nearby War Museum where we viewed pictures taken during the war and read all about the apalling conditions the prisoners endured in the camps. It was a really interesting visit, particularly as Karen's Grandad was a POW in SE Asia at this time giving her an increased appreciation of his ordeal, and eager to find out more. We also went to pay our respects at the Chong Kai allies cemetery. A
Tony and Leander
beautifully tended cemetery created by the Thai Government to honour the soldiers of several WW2 allied armies who died during the defence of SE Asia. We spent some time reflecting on the soldiers' sacrifice and the folly of war. Apart from this day out we lazed, relaxed and chilled, soaking up the sun between dips in the pool, which we had to ourselves and quenching our thirst with pineapple shakes.
We have returned to Bangkok a day before our flight home to meet up with Tony's older brother Leander and his girlfriend Jess. They have been on their own trip in SE Asia for the past month or so. Thankfully we managed to coordinate via email to meet up for a night in Bangkok, this time in a much more tranquil and leafy part of town. Leander and Jess treated us to a great meal and beers in a nice bar. It was fantastic to see them, as our last meeting had been over two years ago, even more so because we were on the other side of the world. We enjoyed catching up and swapping travel stories, it was lovely to see some friendly faces and took our
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Big smiles on our last tuk-tuk ride
minds off the fact that it was our last night.
We are writing this a few hours before we fly home, we are just about to pack our rucksacks one last time before heading to the airport. For the past few weeks now we have had very mixed emotions as the end of our long and winding road draws nearer. We are very excited about seeing our family and friends, who we have missed hugely, but we also have a bit of a yucky feeling in our tummies when we think that its all coming to an end. We have had great adventures, seen wonderous sights, met fantastic people and learned so much about the world and ourselves...all in all it has been the best year of our lives. We could not have achieved so much without the help and support of so many of you and we are eternally grateful for this.
So back to the homeland of Scotland it is...we hope you have the hot water bottles ready!
We think the song Caledonia sums up our feelings right now:
I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come
In these last few days I've been afraid
That I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that's the reason why I seem
So far away today
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me
And now I'm going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything I've ever had
Now I have moved and I've kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have tried and have kept on trying
Stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have traveled hard with coattails flying
Somewhere in the wind
Now I'm sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They've withered now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Last Day of Relaxation
Karen enjoys the pool to herself
I will disappear...
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