Kan of Chang Beery, please

Kanchanaburi Travel Blog

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Bridge on the River Kwai
On a whim, I followed the boys in their plans to head north. Karl, John and I threw a couple days' worth of clothes into a bag and disappeared into the black hole that is Kanchanaburi. We planned for two days. Seven passed before we finally left the small Thai town. It's not that there's a lot to do in Kan'buri, but that was precisely the point.

The area's historical significance attracts a steady flow of tourists. During World War II, Allied POWs were forced by the Japanese to pave the way for the Thai-Burma railway. This meant cutting through bamboo jungles, solid rock and hauling it off without the help of machines. The soldiers completed a 5-year project in the span of 16 months. As a result, nearly 100,000 of them lost their lives during work on the Death Railway, as it came to be known.
Erawan Falls
Much of the railway was destroyed by Allied forces after it's completion, but the film-famous River Kwai Bridge and a cutaway section of the mountain known as Hellfire Pass still stand for visitors to experience.

It took us awhile, but we eventually became some of those visitors. Multiple days passed that began and ended with the statement, "We should really go see some of these sights." Until finally the evening came where we booked a tour and were left without a choice.

A minibus took us and a handful of other tourists on a predetermined path. We started our day admiring the seven tiers of Erawan Falls; hiking a path along the spilling waterfall and stopping at each tier to jump in its pools. The scenery was gorgeous, the water was agreeable and the fish were biting! Within seconds of submersion, every fleck of dead or otherwise deliciously deemed bit of skin was breakfast for a school of tiny silver fish.
Jolly Frog's garden of eden
No matter how much we tried to tell ourselves it was just like a free pedicure, it would inevitably end in a yelp and brief stint of flailing about to shoo the hungry little creatures away.

From there, we went to Hellfire Pass (named for the shadows projected onto the wall as workers slaved away in the firelight) and followed the path of the old railway. An audio recording of the history and personal soldiers' accounts relayed the story as we walked. As the majority of the war prisoners here had been Australian, the boys were especially interested and informed.

After a special stop-off to see some monkeys on the side of the road (and thereby completing my list of life desires) we ended the day with a ride on the remaining section of the railway.
party on the pier
It was a short trip to the Bridge on the Kwai, followed by an even shorter one down the street to our hostel. Having now sufficiently completed our tourist duties, we could guiltlessly return to the business of doing a whole lotta nothing.

Kanchan and the Jolly Frog guesthouse swallowed us in their placidity. It was a place you didn't really bother with makeup and passage of time was irrelevant. You slept away the heat of the morning, and unintentionally stayed up til the wee hours of the night. We inspected the local drinking holes and instigated pool tournaments for the entire bar. Or stocked up at 7-eleven and carried the party to the table of locals out front or river pier by our guesthouse. We survived the days' heat with dips in a nearby pool, and played BINGO afterwards with the owners.
Hellfire Pass


It was also at this time that the world and I learned who the next American president would be. I woke on the 4th with butterflies in my stomach, closely followed by anticlimactic disappointment at the realization that the 12-hour time difference meant I'd have to wait until the following day. I slept like a kid on Christmas Eve. Waking every hour in hopes that Santa had come and left me a shiny, red-ribboned Obama in his wake.

The morning of the 5th revealed that Santa -- and the American people -- came through and made me one very happy camper. It was the first time on my trip I would have loved to be surrounded by Americans, but they weren't to be found. In this remote destination, I had met plenty of French, Finnish and Thais, but came up short-handed with other Yanks.
My celebration was curbed to high fives with the Aussies and a jaunt down the street to the used bookstore and its American expat owner. He was a fleshy older man, who could be found in the same position, on the same stool, every business hour of the day. But he was my sole compatriot and his jubilation, however disconnected it may be by now, would have to do. So we high-fived and woohooed and his Thai wife gave me a strange, but tasty, kiwi pancake. And the world was right again.
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Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridge on the River Kwai
Erawan Falls
Erawan Falls
Jolly Frogs garden of eden
Jolly Frog's garden of eden
party on the pier
party on the pier
Hellfire Pass
Hellfire Pass
remaining section of rail
remaining section of rail
in between yelps
in between yelps
monkeys!!
monkeys!!
Bingo buddies
Bingo buddies
Frenchies (with mad card trick ski…
Frenchies (with mad card trick sk…
Jolly Frog
Jolly Frog
where it all happens
where it all happens
bringing the party home
bringing the party home
our favorite hostel employee, kity
our favorite hostel employee, kity
intense game of kings
intense game of kings
view from the train
view from the train
River Kwai
River Kwai
on the bridge
on the bridge
pool tourney competitors
pool tourney competitors
ask and ye shall receive
ask and ye shall receive
girls that gave me a TERRIBLE hair…
girls that gave me a TERRIBLE hai…
Kanchanaburi
photo by: wbboy29