Uthai Thani to Kanchanaburi

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November 23rd 2021
Published: November 24th 2021
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We are fresh and well rested, and had a good night's sleep. Even the gecko didn't bother us.

There were a couple things we wanted to see in Uthai Thani before we moved on. We started with the Crystal Temple, Wat Tha Sung. We wanted to see the thing the town is most famous for - the floating houses first, but we couldn't find them, and people around there didn't understand what we wanted. So we started with the temple.

I know I've said that we were all 'Watted out', and I stand by that, but the Wat Tha Sung is special. It isn't super ancient or important, but instead of covering everything in gold like most other temples, this one has a huge main hall with lots of pillars and a Buddha and shrine at each end, and everything, and I do mean Everything is covered in mirrors! The walls, the pillars, the ceiling. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Even the floor is polished light marble. You almost need sunglasses! The temple commemorates the famous monk who built it, and his body is mummified and kept in a glass and mirror coffin.

The place was very
Wat Tha SungWat Tha SungWat Tha Sung

The crystal temple
organized, we stood in line for a bit before being allowed in, and we had to show our vaccine papers and sign in, but there weren't too many people there so it went quickly. As well as the local Thai tourists there were a few monks. I wasn't sure of the etiquette of taking pictures of them until I saw one taking pictures of his friends with his cell phone.

We left the temple and decided to go to the town's market, to find some snacks for the road. As we entered the town we noticed lots of the houses were painted purple. It turns out that the Thai princess was born here (she still owns a house in town), and her birth color is purple. In Thailand, each day has its own color. The princess was born on a Saturday, so purple is her color.

We got to the market on the bank of the river, and that's where we found the houseboats! Yes! The one thing that the city of Uthai Thani is famous for! These are true houseboats. Some of the only ones remaining in Thailand that are not a tourist attraction. People actually live in them, and their main occupation is fishing and raising fish. We crossed over the pedestrian bridge (painted purple), and saw some of the houseboat residents in their daily life. Tending their fish cages, taking groceries indoors by boat, a baby peeking out of the doorway.

Apparently, the Thai government does not allow any new houseboats to be built. The owners can fix and renovate, but if the house is destroyed for whatever reason, it can't be replaced. The result is that now there are only about 200 of these authentic houseboats left, and some of them are pretty run down.

We got a snack of peeled pomelo - it came with a small bag of salt & sugar mixed together to help upgrade the flavor. Thai pomelo is watery and much less flavorful than the Israeli variety.

Our next stop was Ban Chai Khao - Thai-Switzerland. As we drew nearer this little gem the view became spectacular! The land is flat, covered with rice, corn and lots of sugar cane, and out of the plain rise great big rocks! Just mountains and cliffs sticking straight up from the flat plain, covered in jungle. We took much longer than planned to reach our destination - we just had to stop for pictures!

Ban Chai Khao, it turns out, is the result of a local family understanding that the view attracts people. They set up a restaurant and a raised lookout platform to generate some extra income. We enjoyed the view from there for a few minutes before moving on. Our next destination - Hup Pa Tat cave, just a short drive away. But as we turned a curve in the road we spotted a cave in the cliff, and a Buddha in it! I stopped the car and we got out to see. There was a small natural cave in the cliff face, at ground level. Inside was said statue, some writing on the wall, little bells hanging from the stalactites and another small Buddha statue in one of the nooks in the ceiling. At the back of the cave the ceiling had collapsed, so light came in, and there was another, undecorated entrance that looked more natural. We explored a bit and enjoyed our little surprise!

A few minutes drive later and we were at Hup Pa Tat. We paid the entrance fee, got flashlights and went in. This is a special cave. It was once very big, but the ceiling collapsed in two places, leaving two large craters with a rock arch between them. The craters got taken over by the jungle and some unique creatures live there now. To enter the craters you have to walk through the original entrance to the cave, a 60 meter long tunnel (hence the flashlights), and then you emerge into this tiny jungle. There's a paved walkway around it, to leave as much of the place as undisturbed as possible.

Gilat and I walked around, admiring the beauty of the place, the rock formations, the palm trees with giant palm fronds, the birds, the frogs (or are they toads?) that look like stones. Despite our efforts we didn't get to see the most unique creature of the cave, the pink dragon millipede. You can never trust animals to do what you want, can you?

We still had a long drive ahead of us to our hotel in Kanchanaburi. Time to head out. We were still amazed by the scenery in this area but managed to refrain from taking too many pictures.

We stopped
Fisherman at workFisherman at workFisherman at work

Maybe he's weeding the garden
along the way at a small roadside restaurant for something to eat, and continued to Krasiao Dam for a rest stop. We sat on the dam and drank iced tea and watched the birds fly around the lake. There were some vessels on the water that looked suspiciously like houseboats out on the lake, despite our research telling us that those could only be found in Uthai Thani.

We made it to Kanchanaburi soon after dark and found the hotel. The place has a nice décor but it was kind of gloomy. The lighting in the room was far from sufficient. Still, it's just for the night so we'll survive.

We went out for a massage and a meal and found the town to be almost deserted! It must have been hit really bad by the pandemic! Here we were, 8 in the evening on the main tourist street of the city boasting the Bridge on the River Kwai, and most of the businesses were closed. We did eventually find a few massage parlors, and after our massage got a restaurant just before he was ready to close (at 9:30! Who closes a restaurant at 9:30?). They started cleaning up the kitchen while we were eating.

So, bed time! Tomorrow will bring us a new adventure.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Ban Chai KhaoBan Chai Khao
Ban Chai Khao

Thai Switzerland
What to do with eggshellsWhat to do with eggshells
What to do with eggshells

Use them to cover yucca spines! Safety first!

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