Kanchanaburi - Part One

Kanchanaburi Travel Blog

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Adam on arrival at our guesthouse, Blue Star

Feeling rough as it's possible to feel, Adam from a night of vomitting, and Steph from the pain of a concrete bed and listening to said vomitting, we were up at 6.30am to get a taxi to the bus station. The taxi our guesthouse had booked was a nightmare. A common enough experience in Bangkok as there is no expectation that a taxi driver will be able to navigate the city. He was told in Thai by the guesthouse reception where we were going but whether in an attempt to bump up the fare or just have a laugh at the rough looking tourists expense he decided to head off in the wrong direction. By this time we had got hold of maps and a guidebook and bearing in mind we had been to the bus station yesterday his was a very bad decision.

The Allied War Cemetery
Of course he couldn't have known the mood we were in but just as you don't play with a wounded animal so you don't try and con a wounded Adam!! Taxi drivers, Tuk Tuk drivers, and con persons everywhere take note!! Starting politely it was pointed out to the driver that we knew exactly where we were supposed to be going and that his selected route was not the most direct. His response was the old toothless grin, head nod and carry on regardless routine!! Ooops, another bad decision. We got him to pull over and showed him the map and pointed out where he should be going and he realised he was stuffed. He drove on in the right direction then decided to try a U turn and get onto the expressway which heads out to the airport. We literally had to grab him by the scruff of the neck and force him to pull over.
Two of the snuggling cats at our Guesthouse
At which point I think he finally realised that his game was up. Reluctantly he opened the boot, our luggage was extracted and a new taxi hailed. He was still banging on about his 'fare' but a few colourful words and a face to face with a 6'2"  white guy, vaguely smelling of vomit, convinced him it wasn't going to happen.

Our new driver was a dream and the rest of the trip was uneventful. Our bus left the station bang on time and the expected two and a half hour trip was even cut short by 10 minutes. Our guesthouse in Kanchanaburi couldn't be more different. We are staying at 'Bluestar Guesthouse' and it has a really sleepy feel with a lovely terrace area serving great coffee, breakfasts and other food.

The smallest, sweetest kitten who resides with her mum and family at our guesthouse
The room we are in is only 350 Baht about US$12 for a night and its clean etc etc. After settling into our room we had a bite to eat then set off for the Death Railway Museum which was really well presented and gave a moving account of the motives behind the building of the Thailand to Burma railway and the suffering of prisoners of war and forced workers from Asian nations behind the building of the Thailand to Burma railway. We figure that by now with all the evidence of cruelty mankind has inflicted that we have seen in museums from Tokyo to Hirosima, Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh that suffering one group of people inflicts on another should not come as a surprise, but it always shocks and appalls. This was especially bad as the denials of any culpability that we'd seen from the Japanese in the Tokyo museum was brought back to the surface.
Tiny kitten at our guesthouse

Emotionally charged we headed across the road where the Allied War Cemetry cares for the remains of 7,000 of the allied dead who died constructing the railway. A fraction of the total the majority of whom were Asian workers that were burried in unamed and unmarked graves near the camps along the railways length. The cemetry is the most beautifully kept and manicured site we have seen and the row after row of grave stones are inscribed with the names and ages of the dead with moving inscriptions from loved ones left behind. It is an incredibly moving thing to see and a testament to a generation of people who suffered in ways younger generations will never understand. Whilst wars inevitably continue and lives are still lost in various pointless conflicts daily, the scale of WWII , the call ups and the length of time families were apart is not a factor in modern warfare. Adam's Grandad was stationed in North Africa during the war and didn't see his wife or son for six years! Unlike those whose graves we saw, he came home. A stranger to his son and to an interrupted life, with little help form a government crippled with war debts! It's a sad fact that the corn row brigade of kids that we saw in Bangkok failled to make the trip out here preferring to get out of it on the beach instead!!


Virginiagoodings says:
Love your account of the naughted driver!!! Well done Adam!
Glad you are seeing all the memorials...I agree with you that current generations should see them and realise that we are able to live the lives we live thanks to those who fought in the past.
Posted on: Mar 10, 2008
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Adam on arrival at our guesthouse,…
Adam on arrival at our guesthouse…
The Allied War Cemetery
The Allied War Cemetery
Two of the snuggling cats at our G…
Two of the snuggling cats at our …
The smallest, sweetest kitten who …
The smallest, sweetest kitten who…
Tiny kitten at our guesthouse
Tiny kitten at our guesthouse
Tiny kitten and mum, snoozing the …
Tiny kitten and mum, snoozing the…
photo by: wbboy29