Bridge over the river Kwai


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Asia » Thailand » Western Thailand » Kanchanaburi
November 16th 2006
Published: November 16th 2006
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Kris

You are what you eat: a Rentokil nightmare



I feel I must add a quick note before I move on to the next site of our travels...
Just before leaving Bangkok I bought a bag of deep fried insects to eat from a guy in the street. This attracted some attention from a passing American couple with lots of "OMG! Dude! Are you going to eat them??". I laughed in the face of the danger and like "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" I tucked in. I devoured a little caterpillar - it tasted like Twiglets. Then ate the biggest, nastiest locust you ever did see. Then I plled a third morsul out of the bag and identified it as, undeniably, a male Blatta orientalis. Thats an oriental cockroach by the way. As an ex-Rentokil employee this came as quite a shock. Was this guy catching his wares around the toilet bowl??? I threw the rest of the bugs away and decided to take a break from my insect diet. Hmm. See accompanying pictures.

Kanchanburi



Kate
We caught a bus from Bangkok's Southern bus station to Kanchanaburi, on the central plains about a 2-3 hour ride from Bangkok. Its on the river Kwai, and famous for the Bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway. We took the public bus and it was surprisingly easy, we got pointed in the right direction for the bus and told when to get off. At each major town people get on the bus to sell you food and drink so you dont even have to have that prepared.
At Kanchanaburi bus station we got a rickshaw to the guesthouse. This old Thai bloke on a bicycle pulled me and Kris and all of our luggage across the town. He must have had calves of steel, some kind of superhero in discuise perhaps. Our luggage is heavy enough for us to carry.
We found a room at the VN guesthouse for 400 bahts per night, overloooking the river with air con and en suite. We then went for a wander round Kanchanaburi.

I must admit, although I studied the 2nd World War at school and even did it for GCSE, my knowledge of the war in Asia was decidedly ropey, and Kris's was the same. Apart from the name of the film, we knew nothing about the bridge over the river Kwai or the Thailand to Burma railway. So here's a little history lessson:
During the war, Japan had invaded most of South East Asia under the pretext of rescuing the people from the Collonial French, Dutch and British. The Collonial soldiers and those living in the area had been captured as POWs. Japan wanted a rail link between Burma and Thailand to provide better transport links and help the expansion into India. They used the POWs to build it, completing it in just over a year. The POWs were worked really hard and there was little food and alot of disease, and the railway had to go through mountains and through rock faces, so about 7,000 POWs died and many more SE Asian workers captured from lands Japan had invaded. It is said that there is one sleeper on the line for each man who died. This is why it is now known as the Death Railway. There is a really good museum in Kanchanaburi called the Thailand to Burma railway museum, which tells the story with interviews and accounts from men who were there. It looks over one of the graveyards were the prisoners who
Erawan FallsErawan FallsErawan Falls

One of the first pools we came to at the Erawan Falls. It might have been pool 2.
died during the building were moved to and burried. It was weird that such a great tragedy happened during the war that we hear little about in Britain.

We also went to visit the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, which you can walk along, which is abit hairy since there are no safety rails to stop you falling in.

Erewan Falls and the Death Railway



The following day we booked onto a tour, over the Erewan waterfalls and Death Railway. Erewan means "elephant' in Thai, because apparantly the falls look like an elephants head. There are seven tiers to them, each with a pool to swim in. Tier seven is about 1500 meters from the bottom. We walked to the top and had a swim in the pool, with our feet being bitten by little fishes! On the way back down, we were sat overlooking the falls, when suddenly a monkey ran down a tree, stole a bag of rice from the family next to us, and then ran back up the tree again! Our very first monkey! You cant take food up the falls so you dont leave rubbish in the National Park, and
Fishes trapped in the pool at Erawan FallsFishes trapped in the pool at Erawan FallsFishes trapped in the pool at Erawan Falls

All the pools had lots of fishes that seemed to be trapped in them. How did they get there and how did they get out? They nibbled our feet when we were swimming. The little ones were cute, the big ones were abit shocking.
this family were eating at the place where they kept all your food for you while you went up. You could see that these monkeys lay in wait for people every day!

We then went onto the Krasae Cave, which was used as a POW camp while the railway was being built. It is now used as a shrine by the Thais and has a giant Buddha statue in it. Its really hot, and you cant imagine how hot it must have been working on the railway and staying in the cave. We got the train from here along some of the wooden viaducts that were built. After Japan surrendered, the British took control of the railway, and they didnt want a link between Thailand and Burma so they removed part of the tracks. So, after all those people died, and this great feet of engineering was created, it only lasted about 2 years.

We will put the photos on when we have a better internet connection to do it. Now off to an elephant camp.


Additional photos below
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More waterfallsMore waterfalls
More waterfalls

This was number 3 I think
Tha Krasae stationTha Krasae station
Tha Krasae station

where we caught the Thailand to Burma Railway. Not all the way to Burma though, only 4 stops
Travelling along the Death RailwayTravelling along the Death Railway
Travelling along the Death Railway

It was like a Michael Palin voiceover was going to come on at any moment!
Travelling along the over the wooden viaductTravelling along the over the wooden viaduct
Travelling along the over the wooden viaduct

Its very old, and abit scary to travel over....especially with the number of tourists on the train
Bridge over the River KwaiBridge over the River Kwai
Bridge over the River Kwai

When they built it I bet they didnt imagine it would end up surrounded by floating restaurants that pumped out Kareoke?


16th November 2006

I don't eat invertebrates for fun you know....
I ate a fly the other day but that was by accident. Actually, I think I sort f inhaled it more than ate it. How come you get to goto Thailand and eat invertebrates without dying whereas I goto the civilized megopolis, New York City, and immediately get cholera? I guess I lack the tough northerner constitution. Is elephant camp like celebrity fat camp?
17th November 2006

Memories
Wow, reading this is bringing back so many memories of when we went to Thailand! You're doing the same things we did and saying the same things about it! Spooky! Great to read how you're doing (esp when I'm supposed to be working!), even though it's making me want to leave this miserable country. Did you slide down the rock into the pool with the bity fish at Erawan? Love Lisa xx
18th November 2006

You got Cholera in New York??
Or was it just a dicky tummy and are you being typically dramatic??
18th November 2006

cholera
yeah, it was just a dicky tummy. I felt rubbish for 2 days though!
24th November 2006

No sliding Im afraid
We missed the sliding down rocks into fishes pool, we were looking for monkeys! Ah well. Glad you are enjoying our tales. Hope you are good.

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