Kanchanaburi

Submitted by derms on Fri, 14/01/2005 - 12:16pm.

We've been in and around Kanchanaburi - about 130km West of Bangkok - for five days now and it's been a lot of fun. Kanchanaburi's most well known attraction is the River Kwai Bridge - made famous by the 1957 movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai". We're staying at a "raft house" - a bamboo house that floats on the River Kwai. It's pretty cool - whenever a boat speeds past our house rocks up and down in the water. At times it feels like being on a small fishing boat going through some rough sea.

One of the main reasons we came here was the Tiger Temple. It's a temple that has turned into a sanctuary for abandoned animals - including tigers. All of the animals, except for the tigers, roam free and mingle together. It was quite amusing to see the wild pigs, deer and a some birds stampeding togeher. You could also touch the animals, including the tigers! It was quite an experience.

There are a number of cave temples around Kanchanaburi. The locals converted some caves into shrines for Buddha. We went to one of them and it was quite errie. It was extremely silent and the place was packed with unusual statues of Buddha. We didn't find out until later that it was full of bats. Quite a few swooped near our heads and we decided that maybe it would be a good idea to leave.

We also went on a two day tour around the Kanchanaburi town area. This included

  • HellFire Pass - a notorious stretch of the "Death Railway", which was a railway the Japanese decided to build between Burma and Thailand during World War II using POW's and local labour. The people that worked on the railway were treated extremely badly and a hundred thousand of them died while constructing the bridge.
  • Hot Spring - where the water was 38°C and the first thing the local buddhist teacher told me was that I couldn't get naked or have sex in there (do I really look that dodgy?)
  • Jungle trek - we trekked for around 6/7 hours total through a tiger infested bamboo jungle, part of which involved walking at night through a river and over slippery rocks with only "bamboo torches" to light the way. It also wasn't very reassuring that our guide was half pissed nor was his willingness to brandish a machete at will - often for no apparent reason. It was an awesome experience though. We slept in a bamboo hut in a rural Thai Village where a local took it upon himself to teach me to play a traditional Thai guitar, which was a lot of fun.
  • Elephant Riding - We went elephant riding for about an hour through the jungle. Amusing.
  • Bamboo Rafting - Ok, but there wasn't much of a current in the stream.

Last but not least, the River Kwai bridge. I have now seen the bridge too many times to count, rode a train over it, had lunch in two different restaurants that overlook the bridge, been to three museums where the bridge was featured and have also canoed under the bridge. I am now considering writing a book about the bridge and may adapt it into a shadow puppet show. I have also developed a type of martial arts based on the bridge - Kwai Fu - that primarily involes getting down on all fours and then arching your back as much as you can, hence performing the lethal "bridge" stance (well it will probably be lethal for you anyway ;)

*DISCLAIMER* Kwai Fu is for novelty purposes only and performing Kwai Fu in public will result in you being beaten up by everyone over the age of one.

( categories: Thailand )