Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

I Have About An Hour

And don't type very fast. Yesterday was my first day since I arrived when I was mostly acclimated, and had nothing on my calendar. Boss has not said anything about me visiting, so I had two choices of places to go for a day trip:
Chanthaburi, I have been there many times, for the gem exchange, which is only open weekends.
Kanchanaburi, the only Thai province I have never as much as passed through, to see the bridge over the River Kwai.

I took door #2. Long taxi ride to the southern bus terminal way out in Thonburi. Bought a ticket for what I thought was a tour bus, but when I went to board it, it was a van. I nixed that and bought a ticket for what looked like an air conditioned tour bus, got on board, and it pulled out before I could see it was a dilapidated old tour bus which had not been maintained at all in 20 years. We were stuck in traffic for the first 1/2 hour because, contrary to the sign on the bus which said it made only two stops along the way, it was a local. what should have been a 2-hour trip took 3. The closer to Kanchanaburi we got, the more often we stopped. The windows were too dirty to take photos.

Finally got there. It took a while to find a place to eat, then I made the mistake of taking a rote-song-teaw to the bridge - the driver had a PA system in the back which would have been the envy of any low-rider, and he cranked it up so high I almost jumped off and walked.

He dropped me off quite a ways from the bridge, at the Japanese memorial, which has seen better days (1944 to be exact). walked a ways, found the river, found the bridge and found two surprising things.

First, the name of the river is Kwa. It sounds like a duck quacking. We don't have that exact vowel in English, but if you spell it "kwa" it would be the "a" in "animal" or "ask". There is no "i" in the Thai word.

Second, this is the bridge which the Japanese had the allied prisoners build. Only the approach to the bridge was blasted, it was mostly intact, and the Japanese reinforced it with a steel girder. The original bridge was mostly wood, but by the end of the war the wood had been replaced by steel.

I really wanted to take the train to the waterfall, but didn't figure out how until it was too late. I started walking across the bridge, there is no  real pedestrian path but there are steel plates which are mostly still bolted down, and the one in the center of the tracks looks the most secure until you have to actually walk on it. Every 15 feet or so there are viewpoints which also get your butt out of the way of the train, which I had to do several times.

3/4 across the bridge, the rain came down in buckets. I thought there was a train platform at the end of the bridge and I could take the train back across, but the last train I followed just kept going, so I waited under some trees overhanging the bridge, and  finally decided it was warm, and only water, I had put the camera in my backpack when the rain started,  so I walked along the railing, all the way back across the river. And went downstairs to the floating restaurant, had way too much food which was brought way too slowly. Paid too much, too.

Back topside, I figured I may as well take the train back, if there is still one to take. I went to the tourist info booth and they said the last train was in 15 minutes. I chatted with the two tourist info gals and the tourist policewoman until the train came, and took the 3-hour ride back to Thonburi. The guide books said it was 5 hours. They lied. The train never gets stuck in traffic. This was a 3rd class car, so the windows are open, great for photos. But we're near the equator so it got dark by 6:30. Thanks to the rain it was pleasantly cool.

The trip took a lot out of me, so after the 20-minute taxi ride to the Skytrain station, and the 2-legged Skytrain trip back to the hotel, I was on empty, so just took the time to download the photos and go to bed.

Put the battery in the charger, but it didn't turn on the charging light. After a little troubleshooting, it was clear the charger was dead (someone let out the smoke).

First thing on the to-do list for Sunday was go to MBK and get a new charger.

Will post photos soon.
Tags: thailand travel
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