So yesterday morning I left Bangkok to head to Kanchanaburi, a small town on the River Kwai. Because I’m not very bright, I decided to walk from the train station to the bus station in Bangkok where I needed to catch the bus. On the way I got lost/stuck in Queen Sirikit Park for longer than intended. In 90*. While wearing two backpacks. But at least it was pretty.
I decided to pick up a snack for the bus ride so wandered into the 7-11 there at the station
It tasted sort of like thin lemon yogurt, which I know sounds weird but was actually pretty tasty. It was, like so many Thai foods, sort of tangy and sweet, all at the same time.
I got some of these too, I’m not quite sure how to describe them. I wasn’t really into them, more for textural reasons than an issue with flavor.
I saw these in the airport when I first landed, but didn’t buy them and have been regretting it since, but here they were again! With free “Lepan Banana Gros Michel” banana pendant! I can’t wait to put it on my cell phone case or whatever you’re meant to do with a banana pendant that comes free with pastries.
After the two and a half hour minibus ride, where I made the mistake of sitting near the door so every passenger could climb in and out over me, we finally arrived at Kanchanaburi. I’d booked a guest house in advance, and decided to walk the 4k there, because I was already drenched. On the way, I passed this beautiful cemetery.
And this adorable puppy, which was chewing on a coconut, but started chewing on me when I stopped to pet him.
The guest house looked so lovely in the pictures, and had a great write up in my guidebook, but the bathroom in my room is less than picturesque:
Not only does the bathroom double as the shower, but you need to supply your own toilet paper, AND there’s no flushing mechanism. You have to use that maroon bowl to take some water out of the bucket and pour it down the toilet. Now I really feel like I’m traveling!
After dropping my stuff I decided to walk to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, the movie of which I’ve never seen. A woman was selling clementines out of the back of her truck.
Turns out the bridge is really beautiful, although not original, as the original was bombed by the allies in WWII.
I’d been seeing commercials for these gift baskets while I was on the Sky Train in Bangkok, and finally saw one in person. I’d been so curious as to what they are, and it turns out, they’re chicken essence! I guess that’s a big thing here, giving chicken essence as a gift? They have them in every little grocery store.
So, I’m going to admit my complete ignorance of the WWII situation here in Thailand, but apparently Japan occupied the country during the war. The Allied forces had cut off their original supply routes, so they decided to build a bridge in order to resupply their troops in Burma. They forced 200,000 local people (Thai, Indian, Chinese, etc.) and 30,000 English, Australian, American and Dutch prisoners of war to build the bridge. The original estimate for the time needed for the railway to be completed was 5 years, but when they decided to use forced labor, they readjusted their estimate to be 18 months. They drove the men so harshly that it was completed in one year. The conditions were horrible, and 100,000 locals and 16,000 POWs died of starvation and disease. There is a cemetery in town that was built to honor the foreigners, who lost their lives, and it holds the remains of nearly 7,000 POWs. The cemetery itself is beautiful, and immaculately maintained. All of the men were so young, and the inscriptions were some of the saddest I’ve ever seen. I cried reading them.
On a lighter note… I stopped to visit the cemetery on my way to the train station. I didn’t manage to buy a ticket, but the trip wasn’t a total waste, as there was a night market just outside.
Tomorrow I’m going to visit Erawan Waterfall, the real reason for my trip to Kanchanaburi