Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kanchanaburi

This is my last weekend before the teaching begins. After a couple weeks in the city finishing the TEFL Course, I figured I should really take advantage of the 3 day weekend so I came out to Kanchanaburi. Kanchaniburi is the name of the town and the province to the west of BKK. I was here 3 years ago and it was one of my favorite places I visited. It has been just as amazing this time around. I came back to the Jolly Frog and I cannot say enough about this guesthouse. A single room is only 70 baht. Sure, the rooms are basic and the beds are average but the location more than makes up for it. The property is right on the river, the garden area is beautifully landscaped, it has hammocks and a lot of chairs overlooking the river with mountains in the background, the food is good and it’s in a convenient location in town. Oh, the air is clean too. I feel like I am countries away from BKK even though it’s only a short 3 hour bus ride away.

I arrived here yesterday afternoon. After I put my stuff down on the bed, I went straight for a hammock and just vegged out. I worked on lesson plans and put together some powerpoints at the bus station and for 3 hours on the bus. By the time I got here, it was time to relax. I cannot describe how happy I was… so you’ll just have to take my word for it. (There was also no pressure to go see the sights either. Usually I am on the go, but since I had done a lot in this area it felt more like coming home.)

Eventually I got out of the hammock and went for a wander. The infamous bridge from the river kwai is located here in town. The sun was setting by the time I reach it, but it is lit up by rotating colored lights.  After walking back and forth across the bridge I headed down to the night market with a new found friend from Holland, grabbed some food, hung out then called it a night.

I woke up at 7 this morning and signed up for a tour. Now I am usually hesitant to do the tours and last time I was in this area I hired a motorbike to get around. But last time I had 4 days. This time I only have one full day. That’s one of the big advantages of backpacking – lots of time. Now that I’m going to be working here I will only be able to do weekend trips.

It ended up being a fantastic tour and a very good deal. We started off with some elephant riding and the mahouts let us ride on the neck of the elephant (way better than the seat).

Then we floated on a bamboo raft down the river. I would have been happy if that was all we did for the day but we were just getting warmed up. The minibus met us and we drove north up to Erawan National Park for lunch, swimming, photos opps and relaxing. The park has a series of 7 waterfalls that are some of the most beautiful and famous in Thailand. Today was my second visit to the national park and I know it will not be my last. It’s very popular with thais and its proximity to BKK helps.

All of the waterfalls are beautiful but waterfall 4 is def the most fun. There are 2 natural rock slides so we played around on those for quite a while. After Erawan we went to a cave along the railroad. During WWII some of the POW had to live in it…it would have been terrible. There is a giant Budda in it now and it has an overwhelming smell of incense. After that we took the train on the railroad back towards Kanchanaburi (so fun – I LOVE trains!), stopped for a few mins and saw the bridge over the River Kwai and that was the end of our tour.

This is still one of my favorite areas of Thailand and I know I’ll be spending quite a lot of time here. There are about 5 national parks in the province, many caves, wildlife sanctuaries, river floating opportunities, and more. It's time to head back to Bangkok for my first week of school!

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