all that jazz

james' blog about scala and all that jazz


Well, today I spent most of the day in the area surrounding Kanchanaburi. To start off with, I had a traditional Thai breakfast of rice soup with prawns. It was quite weird to be eating rice in soup, I don't usually do that. I've had a rice porridge before, but this wasn't like that. Very satisfying none the less. We then jumped in the back of a ute for a half hour drive to Hellfire Pass. One of the things that I'm really starting to notice about Thailand is that although the people are poor, the infrastructure is good. The roads out here in the country have been really good, similar to Australian country roads.

So anyway, Hellfire Pass was very moving and sombre. Reading the stories in the museum inspired in me an anger that I had never felt before towards another race. I can now understand why the ex servicemen are so strong about not allowing enemy soldiers to march in the Anzac day parade, seeing the brutality that those prisoners suffered really leaves an emotional scar that for many, is unforgivable. One thing though that you don't see in the old black and white pictures of the prisoners at work is how green and lush the jungle is. It was really quite a lovely walk down the rail bed.

After Hellfire Pass we headed to the Erawan Falls, a 7 tiered waterfall about 2km long. We hiked up to the highest tier, and swam there for a while. The water was a beautiful cloudy green, caused by the calcium in the water from all the limestone in the area. I've only ever seen water that colour in still ponds that you would never swim in. Behind the 7th waterfall there was a cave, dripping with water from the roof, it was very cool inside. We sat there for a while and just relaxed. There were also a lot of fish in the water, big and small, which if you stayed still, would nibble at your toes.

Overall, it's been quite an exhausting day with a lot of walking. Tonight, if the weather holds up, we're going to the Kanchanaburi night markets, and will probably find a nice bar to settle at and have a good time.

New friends

Well, I'm now on my tour, and so finally have people to hang out with and talk to.

I spent most of yesterday wandering around the malls. I'm amazed at how American these malls are, more American than Australia. One particular one I went into, nearly all the food stalls were American fast food chains. I was very surprised to see a Sizzler, I didn't think Thai's would be interested in that, but obviously they are. And yes, the Sizzler did serve the nice toast.

At about 4:00 I met my new room mate, Jason. He's an American, but he's been studying at Macquarie Uni this semester.... so he lives about 15 minutes walk from where I work. There's only one other person on the tour, Jennifer, she's a Canadian, and like me, this is her first time overseas. Apparently a further 12 people will be joining us in Chang Mai for 6 days I think, and the n it will be back to just us again. It's nice having such a small group, because we get more attention from our guide, and it's more easy going because we only have to get 3 people to agree on what to do, rather than 15.

Both Jason and Jen only arrived in Bangkok less than a day before the tour started. So, having been there 3 days, I got to play guide last night. I took them to the Khao San Road by tuk tuk, where I tried a banana pancake made on a cart on the street. We also had a drink at one of the bars. It then started raining, so we decided to catch a taxi home. The taxi driver didn't speak any english at all, and couldn't work out where our hotel was from the map we gave him. He ended up dropping us off undercover at a shopping centre, by which time it was absolutely pouring with rain.

When it rains in Bangkok, it really rains. Some streets were 10cm deep with water. We were about 20 minutes walk from the hotel, I managed to get us within sight of it, through shopping centres and undercover walkways, but there was no way to get all the way undercover. So, we ran through the rain, and got totally drenched, arrived at the hotel all laughing and dripping wet. We then called it a night.

Today it was up early to catch a bus to Kanchanaburi. Kanchanaburi is a town about 2 hours by bus west of Bangkok. It sits on the River Kwai, and is famous for its World War 2 cemetry and Death Rail Museum. This afternoon we will visit those places and also the bridge over the River Kwai built by the POWs. Our guesthouse is fantastic, floating on the river where it's very cool, quiet and peaceful. Overall, Kanchanaburi is much more laid back than Bangkok, and much cleaner. It's a nice change from the city, though that's not say that Bangkok wasn't a great city :)