Kanchanaburi


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Asia » Thailand » Western Thailand » Kanchanaburi
December 20th 2012
Published: December 23rd 2012
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Day 1

After settling in to our new abode, Dean was a little nervous that I wasn't going to be entirely happy with the accommodation. But it is such an amazingly calm place that you can't help but be sucked into its relaxing atmosphere. An amazing BBQ meal whipped up by our host was eagerly eaten. Absolutely delicious. Not a big chicken fan, but this bird had been cooked to perfection. Best ever! Over the course of the evening we gorged ourselves silly, met some other interesting characters and enjoyed a few cold beverages sitting amongst the tropical setting.

Day 2

Today was pretty slack really, although we set out with the best intentions. First stop was brunch. As ever, our lives revolve around finding and consuming various local delicacies. A Kanchanaburi soup provided us with the fuel needed for stop 2, the war cemetery. The Commonwealth Graves Commission keep this in good nick and it is a sombre reminder of the town's role during WW2. It was pretty warm even at this early stage in the day so we kept to the few shaded areas.

Stop 3, the Tourist Police, for information on where some Internet cafes might be located. We left clutching a hard to read map, but hopeful our search wouldn't be in vain. Along the way, we dropped in at Stop 4, the world's worst museum. That might not be the official title, however the JEATH museum could quite easily claim that title. Twenty minutes of my life I will never get back. About $1 to enter, but none of it is obviously spent on maintaining the exhibits. Or maybe the monks (who run the place) are trying to provide a simulated experience of life in a POW camp. Who knows, but based on that, a typical government school classroom could be classified as a museum. Faded, ill-kept posters hanging off the walls, broken furniture and a building that should be condemned. Anyway, it's all an experience, albeit one I don't want to repeat any time soon.

Noticing an Immigration Office on the map, we popped in there and extended our visas for an extra week. Not the 15 day one we'd get if we crossed into Burma, and we'd have to pay for it, but it meant that we didn't have to waste a day doing it and staying somewhere we
Lighting the lanternLighting the lanternLighting the lantern

A delicate operation.
didn't really want to go to anyway.

Stop 6 for the day involved an extended visit to the Tesco Lotus complex. This supermarket was on steroids - like Kmart but actually stocked with products in a huge Bunnings like warehouse. I mainly wanted to go here because of the air conditioning, and to tell the truth, I couldn't face another mangey market just to buy cheap shampoo and batteries. Picking up some supplies and dancing along to the Christmas tunes (Eleanor was embarrassed), Dean spotted an optometrists outside so he headed off to have his eyes tested. Eleanor and I wandered around for a bit longer then we all had lunch in the food court (no Western food here, much to Eleanor's dismay) before collecting Dean's new glasses. Two hours later we emerged back into the afternoon.

The last stop for the day was the bridge over the River Kwai. Hoards of tourists were also descending on this infamous bridge, however not all of them actually walk over it. Weaving in and out of the groups at the beginning, the crowds thin out over the other side so we had a nice walk and photo opportunity on the bank opposite. A train came through just as we were beginning to walk back over, so we waited for it to pass before heading back to the car. It looks like it would be a very slow journey to Bangkok.

Back at the ranch we ate another magnificent Thai meal for dinner. The green curry was one of the best I've eaten and the fish curry was pretty good too. Dean finally had an opportunity to let off his fireworks, so we had a laugh at those. Then the owner lit a huge paper lantern and we watched that ascend into the night sky.

Day 3

Another touristy day which began well and ended not so well.

With Kyle, a young Texan, on board we headed off to visit Hellfire Pass. The museum was brilliant, although it involved a lot of reading. The walk down to Hellfire Pass wasn't too steep but what goes down must eventually come up. Yep. Lots of steps. We did the loop, so I'm sure we climbed more steps than we needed to. But that's okay because it was worth it.

Next on the agenda was Sai Yok Noi waterfall. It was also our first time seeing busloads of Russians in action. We had heard about their shenanigans in Kanchanaburi, but to witness it was almost better than viewing the actual waterfall. There are written signs (in Russian, Thai and English) and visual ones which ask people to be modest in their attire. If wearing speedos and bikinis is modest, then they certainly abided by the request. But the most amusing part was how they posed for photographs. We're no models, sure, and our photos won't be remembered for our zany posturing. Their poses were very dramatic and were not limited to standing in front of the waterfall. Hands outstretched, stomachs extended, legs splayed...we were loving it. I also admire that whatever shape or size, it didn't matter, they were wearing whatever swimming costume they wanted (even if it didn't fit).

Still giggling, we got back in the car for the drive to Eraswan Waterfalls. Seven levels of cascading water and hundreds more Russian tourists. There could only be lots of joy here. Kyle left us to go as high as he could before it closed and we went up to level three. Dean and Eleanor tentatively made their way into the slippery waterhole and proceeded to have a little swim. Then things went horribly wrong...

Dean fell over onto Eleanor's foot which jammed it onto a rock. Bleeding heavily, Dean carried her out of the water and miraculously there was a ranger with a walkie-talkie. He communicated with someone one level 2 who was organising transportation out immediately. The ranger piggy-backed Eleanor down the hill and cleaned the wound up a little before bundling us into the back of a ute. By this stage Kyle had met us and climbed into the ute too. Speeding out of the park, we were taken a few kilometres down the road to a local clinic. Dean and Kyle had to go back to the waterfall to collect the car before the carpark closed. That left Eleanor and I and a doctor and nurse who didn't speak English.

As soon as the doctor (I presume he was one, although his Hawaiian shirt and bare feet were slightly disconcerting) saw the wound he said 'sutures'. I didn't need to speak Thai to understand that Eleanor was about to be sewn up. EEEKKKKKKKK!!!! I tried to ask if she was going to have an anaesthetic but my charades weren't going well. He got something out of the fridge and a needle, so I thought that would be it. Unfortunately for Eleanor, I think it was just a tetanus jab. As each stitch went in, she felt it and it was really awful. I didn't want to look because I thought I was going to vomit, but after the third stitch I asked, 'Finished?' No. One more. When it ended, I fainted, so that cheered Eleanor up a bit.

When Dean and Kyle arrived, I was on the floor with the nurse and Eleanor was being bandaged. Fun times. Handing me some antibiotics and pain killers, the doctor told us, 'No water, seven days'. No swimming for seven days! The stitches also have to be taken out after a week, so that will involve another trip to a clinic. Not accepting payment, we left a donation in a box and drove off, with Eleanor feeling sad and sorry for herself and myself reliving the horror. Sad times.

Back at the bungalow, Eleanor and I had a quiet night while Dean went out with some others to Nong Bua for dinner. We watched Mr Bean on DVD (thanks Tesco Lotus!) and had takeaway soup and fried chicken. After a painkiller, Eleanor fell asleep and after moving all our stuff away from the ants, I did too.

Day 4

Happy anniversary for Dean and I!!!! I gave Dean my present - two dodgy CDs complete with spelling mistakes, courtesy of Tesco Lotus - and received nothing. Great. We were supposed to be leaving for Bangkok today, so we jumped in the car nice and early (or so I thought!), said our goodbyes and drove off towards the highway. After a little while, Dean pulled over and surprised me with his present - a night in a FANCY resort. Oh the joy. No ants, a pool, a proper bathroom. Happy times again. It was a little too early to check in so we drove into the backpacker area to find an Internet cafe, laundry and pharmacy. It didn't take too long to locate all three, although we couldn't find them two days ago. We picked up some crutches for Eleanor and a bandage, booked some accommodation for the next week and dropped off our laundry. Once we took care of the necessities,
Pre injury swimPre injury swimPre injury swim

The scene of the accident.
we drove back to the resort.

A magnificent room overlooking the pool and with glimpses of the River Kwai, it was just what we all needed. We ordered room service to cheer up Eleanor, watched Mr Bean again and set about organising our next few weeks. It was a lovely, lazy day and night. Because Eleanor's movements are restricted we decided to have dinner on site at their restaurant on a rice barge. With music from a disco boat in the distance, we had some nice Thai food with an Australian wine. After dinner, we sent a lantern into the sky and then headed back to the room for some ordinary Thai television.

Day 5

Today we really did have to leave Kanchanburi and have the car back by 12pm in Bangkok. By the time we picked up the laundry, did a few u-turns and collected a t-shirt left behind at the other place, we were cutting it fine to arrive before 12. Traffic wasn't too bad and there were only a couple of roadworks where we had to slow down so we were making good time until we hit the toll road. At that point, we
Post surgeryPost surgeryPost surgery

The ride back in the car was quiet.
had no idea how to exit it at the right turn off. A few u-turns, petrol and toilet stop later, and we were five minutes from 12 but no closer to finding the entrance. By some fluke, we turned onto a road which looked like it would take us into the airport. Things were looking good. The minutes were counting down and at 11:59 we found ourselves stuck behind a taxi which was picking up two people with what looked like 10 bags and a couple of body boards. When the taxi took off, we pulled up into a car space and offloaded everything pretty quickly. We had made it.

Then we had to spend 3 hours and 40 minutes in the airport. This is the old airport and basically has nothing in it. A few restaurants and couple of shops, and that's it. Our gate was as far from the check in desk as it could be so it did take Eleanor a fair while to make it down there. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a wheelchair because we were so early. On the positive side, Eleanor's throwing arm is going to get a good workout over the next
A $5 pair of crutchesA $5 pair of crutchesA $5 pair of crutches

Eleanor was now mobile!
week! Anyway, we managed to spend the time playing Boggle, reading and watching people get twitchy over their flights. When it was time to board, we had to catch a bus and then walk up the steps to the plane. Eleanor certainly wasn't getting any special treatment. Hopefully things would be better at the other end...


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Letting the lantern goLetting the lantern go
Letting the lantern go

Happy Anniversary!


24th December 2012

Seasons Greetings
Have a merry christmas and a safe new year. Hope Eleanor's foot is on the mend. Love Mum & Rob

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