Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

We visited the Kanchanaburi province, two hours northwest of Bangkok. First, we went to the city of Kanchanaburi, best known for containing The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Some of the elder readers may have seen the movie. The bridge was built during WW2 by Allied Forces POWs and Asian laborers by the order of the Japanese army. Japan's goal was to create a trade route between Myanmar and Thailand. Over 100,000 civilians and 15,000 POWs died during the building of the railway; the labor camp conditions resembled those of Dachau concentration camp from earlier in our trip. Many died from jungle diseases, poor camp sanitation, or torture. Now, Thais have created an Allied Forces cemetary to comemorate the lives lost during the building of the Death Railway.

The cemetary holds 6,982 soldiers, primarily American, British, Dutch, New Zealand, and Autralian. It looks quite different from the Thai/Chinese cemetary next to it.

We spent the day learning from a bamboo museum imitating a POW camp and visiting the WW2 history of Kanchanaburi.

After a long day of walking, we returned to our riverside bungalo. I spent a few minutes reading before turning out the lights for the night. As I adjusted myself into my sarong (light blanket), a sharp pain hit my right butt cheek. I swiped my hand at the pain and it went away. Later that night, I changed my sleeping position and felt the same pain on my elbow. After swiping again, I knew something was amiss. All the lights came on and I started the bed bug search. The result was seven red ants crawling on the bed!!! Those small buggers have a powerful bite. I'm glad there were only seven and they avoided my nether-regions. I slept lightly but bite-free for the rest of the night; Laura slept through the whole thing.

The province of Kanchanaburi is full of thick jungle hills with water streaming from all directions, making an abundance of waterfalls. We traveled to Erawan National Park to visit Erawan Falls. The falls are 1500 meters (that's right, METERS) long. The turquoise water is mezmerisingas it flows over limestone rocks. The park service has divided the falls into seven tiers, each tier being a major fall.

Amazingly, the limestone was not slippery, making it easy to walk right in the falls. This became a typical rest stop.

The best part was that the falls have created innumerable pools that visitors are allowed to swim in. Many visitors avoided dipping into the pools because of the Erawan Falls locals; the Erawan fish loved sucking on human skin anytime one was still. It was quite an awkward feeling. It was, however, great fun watching the virgin swimmer first get nipped! Guess I can check off the "swimming in turquiose water under a waterfall" on my life "to-do" list.

Laura, due to Erawan's over-friendly fishies, won't be able to yet.

Today, we were headed to the Damnoen Saduak floating market but Laura picked the wrong pork sausage at the outdoor food market and is quite sick in our bungalo. Hopefully, she'll be ok for our trip back to Bangkok for the next shot.


Greg said...

Pa-ka L&J,

At the moment 16.5 F and snowing at the official weather station here on Lake Road, No stinking red ants here. Reminds me of fire ants in Texas. Indeed the buggers are a real pain in the arse.

Man what a great adventure. I still have swimming underwater falls on my list. although I have checked-off walk behind in Zion NP.

Tainted pork in warm climates is just a little [or big from Laura's current viewpoint] reminder why some religions prohibit eating pork.

Played with you nephews yesterday. And have invite to do so tomorrow at venison cookout -IN as it has been snowing for days and days. What a blast Brady is.

These weather reports should be enough to encourage more adventure on your part.

From one of your "elder readers"
I can hear the whistling now.
Fri, 11/23, 2130

Anonymous said...

swimming in a waterfall infested river in late November is just not what a true Vermont BOY SHOULD BE DOING. just try and do that at the falls right here in Orleans, at least there won't be fish biting at your torso!!!! sounds like another great experience you two have found to enjoy and share with us. DAD

Anonymous said...

Wow! great pictures! Did you switch cameras? The aspect ratio looks different...

And, I've actually seen that movie- I fear that qualifies me as an elder??!!!

Hope the bad piggy goes through the system quickly...

Wouldn't want to try that swimming stunt here in CO- you'd have some serious "reductions" right where the ants didn't get you :-)p


PS, first real snow and spectacular sunny next day here in CO.

J.Pallotta said...

Hey Jim,

Didn't switch cameras but had a better photographer. Laura was doing most of the work. She's much better than I. Thanks for the great comments ...can't wait to hear more from snowy CO.