Monday, April 28, 2008

kanchanaburi my heart

Oh, is that title a winner.

So Khoa San road in Bangkok was a perfect break from traveling. It's a bit like Navy Pier in Chicago: touristy, totally unauthentic, and relatively expensive. Like the street vendors' pad thai was $0.90. Highway robbery, right?

Khoa San is unquestionably convenient for a westerner, but it's not very Thai, you know? One day was plenty. Off to the train station: to Kanchanaburi! Why Kanchanaburi? Because I'm making my way to a hephalump rescue, and Kanchanaburi is the closest town. And I kinda like riding the rails. You really get to see a country from a train. Some beautiful sights:

A wat (wats are a dime a dozen in Thailand, like squirrels or something; I just happened to snap a decent shot of this one)

A public park

River life

So I get to Kanchanaburi, and have several options for guesthouses (read: hostels). One is called the Jolly Frog. Now, I'm the BULLFROG, and this is the Jolly Frog, so, I mean, obviously, it's got my name all over it. A single room is $2.50 a night. But, wait, what's that? Down the list at $5 a night was a "rafthouse." Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod. I love water THIIIIIIIIIIS much, and... [checks pocket]... I can afford $5 a night. Here's the view from my aquadigs:

WOWZER! My pad floats on the Kwai River in western Thailand. River Kwai? Like Bridge on the River Kwai? One and the same. The bridge, built by British POWs during WWII and made famous by the '57 film, is about a half mile upriver.

Kanchanaburi is dripping with WWII history, so I rented a bike ($1 per day) and pedaled to all the tiny memorials, museums, and sights. I got lots of stares and smiles and toots on the way; Thai adults aren't that tall in the first place, and this was a kids' bike. The POW cemetary is truly moving, it's simple, small, sincere, and kept immaculately clean. It's the cleanest place I've seen in Thailand.

And parts of the Death Railway are still in use. Here's a pass (that's the Kwai river on the right, obviously). The inner rails are the originals laid down by slave workers and POWs, at Japan's one meter gauge. The outer rails are the new ones. (The train only comes three times a day, so I wasn't in much danger).

After a long day of history, I think I earned myself a coconut shake (30 cents) and my first ever professional massage ($4 for an hour). Had such a good time that first day I decided to call Phot, who runs Hephalumps & Friends, and told him I'm going to spend another day and a half here.

Took a trip up to Erawan National Park, which was beautiful! (Until it rained for hours and then the water was all brown and muddy, but shhhhh...)

I don't know if the fish are hungry or territorial, but they like to nip.

Super secret lizard trick. At dusk, turn on an outside light, like the bathroom light (um, that's an outside light when you're paying $5 a night). Wait 20 minutes. See, little bugs are attracted to light, and lizards are attracted to little bugs. I got at least 6 lizards last night:

Um, what else?

Some of Kanchanaburi's WWII sights are on the tour bus trail. I don't really need to take pictures of the famous bridge on the River Kwai (wanna see it? the internet has more photos than I can take). But I do like taking pictures of people taking pictures.

Maybe one day I'll be at such a tourist attraction that I can take pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures. Or if someone were taking a picture of me taking pictures... that might get recursive.

Anyway, tonight I'm meeting this German couple for dinner, then I'll probably sneak in another massage and coconut shake. Tomorrow morning, Phot's picking me up and we'll be on our way to his hephalump rescue. They have no internet (or power, for that matter), so I'm signing off for a little while.

Much love, as always.


Yaya said...

Oooh pretty! You haven't melted from the heat yet? At least you made it past getting your head chopped off..

Glad to hear you're taking advantage of delicious tropical fruits and ridiculously cheap professional massages. You should try a foot massage after a long day of walking sometime, it's PHNOMPENHal.

Leah said...

jakey jakey! i love your blog! and the pictures!

Jake Cooper said...