Our Bus Trip From Bangkok To Kanchaniburi
It was a two hour bus ride from Bangkok to Kanchaniburi. The bus ride was okay, it was an air conditioned bus. It was very old, but we were shocked to see the floors were beautiful solid teak planks. We paid the whopping 20 baht more (less than 70cents) to be put on first class. We really have no idea what this means. I think we were put on the same bus as the locals who were paying the 2nd class fare. They did have a tourist table in the bus station with a person that could speak some English. This was nice as he directed us to which bus we needed to take and what time it left.
We were a bit late arriving for the bus. We had our bags put underneath and boarded the bus to find there was only one seat left. We weren’t going to have one of us stand for two hours. Jack motioned to get off the bus and we started to try to communicate that we wanted our bags and would wait for the next bus to leave.
This caused a huge commotion, the ticket lady for the bus kept demanding we give her our tickets and would not let us off the bus. She was actually blocking us from getting down the aisle. The bus driver was getting angry and wanted to get going. Finally the lady went through the bus going from person to person asking for passengers tickets. Everyone else on the bus seemed to be local Thai’s except one other couple. She finally got a lady and her baby to stand up and exit the bus.
We felt really bad and wondered why this lady had been kicked off to allow us to sit. There was no point trying to communicate this to her. Besides as soon as the lady exited the bus the driver was backing out to get going.
We later talked to a British guy who has been living here for several years and he said not to worry about it, that this happens all the time. They over book the bus and the lady they took off had most likely not paid yet so this is why they would have removed her.
Ploy Guest House
In Kanchanaburi we stayed at a place called the Ploy Guest House. It was a very relaxing place set right on the river Kwai. The location is within easy walking distance to the River Kwai bridge and many other of Kanchaniburi’s attractions.
It had a casual bar for drinks and a restaurant that overlooked the beautiful view of the river. The rooms are comfortable and spotlessly clean. We had a large bathroom as well. The cost was 550 baht per night. (about $15 Canadian dollars) this included air conditioning, hot water and an American breakfast. We are loving how cheap it is here. This is a splurge, if you are really budget conscious you can get rooms for as cheap as $3 dollars.
One morning Jack got up early and went to sit and enjoy the river view. He got to see a long monitor lizard swimming along the water. At first he thought it was a crocodile as he saw the head. It soon climbed out of the water over some bamboo and then he got to see all of its body.
We sat another morning and watched one of the guest house ladies pick some kind of greens from the side of the river. It was quite funny to watch her as she tried to balance herself on a half sunk wooden palette. She did finally take a bit of a plunge and laughed as she saw we were watching her.
Kanchaniburi Is A Relaxing Change From Bangkok
This city was a nice change of pace from Bangkok, it is still somewhat busy, but nothing on the scale of the big city. We felt very comfortable and safe here. It was a great place to just wander around the streets and soak up the atmosphere. We walked by peoples homes and saw kids playing, small toddlers being bathed in wooden tubs and pet birds in cages. One evening we came across a night market that was full of cheap goods and lots of different foods to try.
We have noticed that each specific area has their own way of getting around the city. This place is full of scooters, many more than Bangkok. People act like we do at home in our cars while they ride them. They race down the road talking on their cell phones and eating their food. We see entire families on them. Dads fly down the street balancing tiny babies in one hand in front of them. The small toddlers as young as 2 stand in front of dad holding on by themselves, it is hard to watch, we are so afraid they are going to fall off.
They also have a lot of motorcycles where the front has been chopped off, it is attached to a square metal cart with two wheels. They transport everything in these. Many of them are mobile kitchens!
Bridge On The River Kwai And Death Railway Musuem
We spent one day going to the Bridge on the River Kwai. We also went to the museum describing the Death Railway. It was really neat to see the bridge, it looks just like the movie for all of you who have seen it. The museum goes into great detail to explain the building of the railway and has many pictures and old relics found from the time of the building. It also has bomb fragments from the many allied attacks on the railway.
It was really devastating to learn of how the POW’s and forced Asian laborers were treated during the construction of this railway. One hundred thousand Asian workers and 16,000 POW’s lost their lives during the building. Due to overwork, malnutrition and disease. There was no mercy shown to anyone. The one strange thing the Japanese did allow was for proper burial of the allied men. Sadly not one single Asian worker was buried in a marked grave. While we were at the bridge a large Thai military group of young men arrived to march across the bridge.
We visited the Allied War Cemetery a short distance from the bridge. It is a beautifully maintained property. The headstones go on forever. So many of the men were only in their early twenties when they died.
Right beside the allied cemetery is a Chinese cemetery for the population that exists in the area. It has very unique looking tombstones.
There is an excellent restaurant at a place called Apples Retreat and Guesthouse. We had our dinner there both nights. They have delicious Thai food. They also offer full day cooking courses, you can choose to make whatever you want on the menu. You can go in the morning with the chef and buy your ingredients at the market. We were served here by our first ladyboy waiter. It was an odd experience to say the least. He was not petite and feminine looking, but very tall, broad shouldered and masculine.
We were already booked into our accommodation for the duration of our stay and quite happy with it. Otherwise Apples looked like it would be great place to stay.