The River Kwai
Kanchanaburi Travel Blog› entry 9 of 49 › view all entries
May 5th, 2006 – by: umbralwalker
Bangkok. They aren't kidding, you can find anything you need there. Except, apparently, friendly and helpful hostel staff. Megs and I found ourselves at a very clean hostel off of Kao San Road called atHome. The room was exceptionally warm and the staff, like at Big John's, didn't really care about being much help. Yesterday morning we packed up our bags, packed a box of unneeded gear we brought with us (about 8kg worth), checked out, went to the post office and mailed the box home then went back to Phantip Plaza to buy a camera.
Phantip Plaza is amazing; a place where you can find any kind of electronic hardware, DVD, CD or computer program for as cheap as they come. Actually, you could probably get the hardware a little cheaper in Taiwan, but not the other stuff.There were the latest video cards for ~$50, programs for $2.50, DVDs for $2, it was crazy. Megan ended up having some problems with her credit card--they closed it down after her first purchase in Thailand--but I'll let her tell that story. In the end we managed to get a great camera for less than we paid in the states for our old one.
Up the street from Phantip we found a great series of street vendors and had amazing food for cheap. Though we were apprehensive about street vendor food when we first got here we've gotten over it. You still need to take some obvious precautions, but in general the vendor food is tasty, cheap and plentiful. We were told that at any one time in Thailand, half the population is cooking and the other half is eating, which is easy to believe.One of the best things we had were corn-cobs roasted over buckets of coals with a combination of butter, salt and some other spice. Each cob was really big and was 10baht (about .25c).
While we were eating we ran into a really nice guy from Kansas City named David. He and his wife Wan invited us to stay at their place if we were ever back in Bangkok. David's been back and forth between here and the states a lot over the years and is considering moving here permanently to start a business with his wife in southern Thailand. I've actually been surprised at how many people we've run into from the states, way more than I ran into on my last trip.
After lunch we spent a lot of time haggling with taxi drivers who keep refusing to use the meter for us 'farang'.They insist on outrageous prices (for Thailand anyway) to take us from place to place. I've quickly discovered that Megan is a shrewed and brutal haggler and I'm glad she's around. I suck at that. Eventually we got to the Cambodian Embassy in the heat of the day, carrying our packs, to find out they only issue Visas from 9-12 in the morning. By that time I'd had enough of the heat. We decided to get out of Bangkok.
We got a wacky taxi driver named 'Yo yo' to take us from downtown out to the Southern Bus Station. Sweet guy. I was a little concerned because he was definitely NOT the driver pictured in the 'Passenger Safety' placard in the front of the taxi, but he ended up being a lot of fun. From the bus terminal we headed out to Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanaburi was recommended to me by an Englishman named Tim I met in Ko Tao. The Erawan National Park near there has a 7-tiered waterfall with pools you can swim in. We got here last night and got a 40b ride to the Sugar Cane hostel by a dude driving a rickshaw! His calves were enormous.
The Sugar Cane hostel is really pretty and has rooms that float right on the River Kwai (yes, as in 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai). Apparently that's a redundant name as Kwai actually means River in Thai. The sunset last night was one to rival Ko Tao.
At dinner we met a wonderful couple from Austria named Niko and Andrea. After dinner we went with them to a Reggae bar, sat on elevated platforms, drank coke and whiskey we were assured wouldn't make us blind, and played Connect Four--a game we seem to find everywhere in Thailand.They live in Islamabad now, but also have a place in Austria and invited us to stay with them in either place. Like nearly all the people we've met who have been to places we've been told are 'dangerous', like Burma and Pakistan, they've told us it is bunk. Like any country there are places you shouldn't go, but the people in these places are friendly and kind. They were telling us that Pakistan has fabulous news programs and newspapers that cover the world in a massive number of languages.
This afternoon we are going to the Tiger Temple, tomorrow we are heading up to spend the day at the waterfalls. We may stay through the weekend then head up to Chang Mai in Northern Thailand, or go back to Bangkok to get Visas for Laos. I would love it if the next time we see Bangkok is the day before we leave for home.
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