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Published: October 13th 2007
After 5 days in a city the size of Bangkok, we realized that we needed a change, so we set our sights on a smaller place and had hopped on the train and headed for Kanchanubar (70 miles west of Bangkok).
We were without internet for a few days and hope that you don’t mind receiving two blogs close together.
We both enjoy train travel and unlike the United States, there are many trains here in Asia. In Thailand they have 1st, 2nd and sod 3rd class train travel. The particular train that we needed to take to Kanchanubari only offered 3rd class travel. Our car offered wooden seats with all tall back similar to a church pew. We were hoping for air conditioning and we were disappointed…. we had open windows and ceiling fans!! Actually I’m making fun of the situation but it turned out to be very comfortable. I’m not sure how it would have been in a rain storm but we didn’t have to encounter that. The price for our 3 hour train trip was a little over $3 per person.
Do you remember the movie, “The Bridge Over the Rive Kwai”? The bridge is
located in Kanchanubari. The movie is loosely based on the facts regarding the railroad. Over 100,000 people lost their lives building this railroad. Over 60,000 POWs from Australia, England, the Netherlands, and America worked on the bridge under brutal conditions. 20 percent of them died as a result. The Japanese also “conscripted” 270,000 Asian workers to complete a 6 year project in 16 months with little modern technology. About 13,000 POWs died along with up to 90,000 Asian workers. The brutality is overwhelming to consider.
In our short time here we have learned so much history from the 2nd World War that we knew nothing or very little about. We visited two museums locally. One is the Death Railway Museum and the other was the Hell Fire Pass Museum. Both tell the grisly story of the railway. One has a cemetery across the street for many Allied soldier’s graves in remembrance, the other was funded by the Australian government in remembrance.
On a more positive note, we had the most wonderful time taking a Thai Cooking Class. Our teacher was Mickey and he had a very good command of the English language. He took us to the market
shopping for all our supplies and taught us a great deal about the noodles and vegetables in his country. Then it was back to the kitchen for several hours of cooking. We learned to make Pad Thai, Spring Rolls, Tom Yum Soup, Green Curry and Sweet and Sour Chicken (even though it is Chinese) He put a Thai flare to it and it was wonderful!! We can’t wait to try them in our own kitchen, but that won’t be for quite some time.
After cooking class we exhausted (or so we convinced ourselves) so we went and had a 3 hour massage. One hour of foot massage, one hour of Thai massage and one hour of oil massage. We were completely relaxed when it was over. I wish we could have taken our blood pressures when we were finished. The total cost for this complete treatment was about $41 for the both of us!
Our lodging in Kanchanubari was at a small guesthouse overlooking the Kwai River. Each morning we were awakened by roosters crowing and at night the orchestral sounds of frogs lulled us to sleep.
We took a day trip that included the beautiful waterfalls,
the Hell Fire Pass Museum, natural hot springs, a visit to a local cave, and a trip along the famous “Death Railway.” At the end of the trip, we walked across the bridge over the River Kwai, which is still in use for transport.
Kanchanaburi is a wonderful little village and we are so glad that we had time here. We learned a great deal about World War II and how it affected so many lives, both Allied and Asian.
According to the Bangkok post, Bangkok has 120,000 stray dogs. I hate to think how many are in Thailand all together. Since we are pet people it is hard to see these dogs roaming the streets. They look dirty, tired and hungry. Many of these dogs have been hit by vehicles and had no medical care so they walk around with broken legs and pelvises. It is so very difficult to see. One night we were having dinner and we heard the breaks and the howl of a dog in Kanchanaburi. A lump came to my throat and it was hard to get through it. I know that this is a different world and that most of the
animals are not considered pets but it is very hard. I’d like to go through many 3rd world countries with our friend Marena and give them some baths, love and medical care.
We took a transport back to Bangkok, and hopped an overnight train to Chiang Mai, which is in the northern part of the country. We’ll tell you all about it in our next blog!
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