A June 2002 trip
to Kanchanaburi by markiemark
Quote: From Phetchaburi, I'm now in another "buri"! Kanchanaburi of "Bridge On the River Kwai" fame.
Hotel | "Canaan Guesthouse"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2002
Links Golf & Racquet Club
917 Thomas Avenue North
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29582
Cycling out to Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi was a tougher prospect than I anticipated! Not having ridden a bike for a few years, my bum wondered what had hit it! Still the journey out to these temples, taking a backroad on the west side of and parallel to the river, was an interesting day trip. I called in at Wat Tham Khao Laem first, a 3 km diversion north from the river bridge on Mae Nam Mae Khlong Road. There is a cave shrine here which is overhung by numerous stalagtites, and there's a nice view over the surrounding countryside. The two friendly monks I met there spoke a little English, but didn't seem to want to sit too close together for the photo I asked to take of them!
Back in the right direction for Wats Sua and Khao Noi, the first couple of kilometres of the sideroad left after the river bridge was gravelly and pot-holed due to the heavy quarry lorries using this short stretch. After this, the road became flat and easy to ride although pretty hot work! Wat Ban Tham was about halfway to the other wats along this road and featured a long staircase into a dragon's mouth up to the main shrine. Sua and Khao Noi are situated on a hill which affords great views of rural Thailand and the river. The temple complex struck me as looking a little like a Buddhist theme park with its big pagodas and statues of bright garish colours! There is even a funicular railway to take visitors to the top! There were plenty of food and drink stalls, though no other tourists that I saw, and lots of barking dogs! The haul back to Kanchanaburi felt very long and had to be done standing up on the pedals! Was I happy to get back to my guesthouse! Although the temples I visited were nothing special, it was interesting way to see some of rural Thailand that few tourists get to see except from the windows of a tour bus.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 6, 2002
Up at 7am, we started our tour by catching the 8am number 8203 bus down the Sangkhlaburi road to Hin Dad Hot Springs, 3 hours away. These hot springs are not on the regular tour circuit, and when we got there, there were only half a dozen local women soaking in the water. The temperature hovers around the 40 degree mark and the water is very relaxing. If it gets too hot, the river is just feet away to cool off in! It costs 5 baht to go in and is well worth the effort to get to as it was my first hot bath since I began my trip 15 months ago!! From here, we sat by the roadside for 10 minutes awaiting a passing bus to take us the one hour ride to Hellfire Pass. The new museum there is excellent, and includes many photos and exhibits as well as a startling, very moving video with voice-overs by some of the POWs that worked on the "Death Railway".
Hellfire pass was one of the most difficult sections of this railway, having to be cut through solid rock with only the most basic of tools. Tom told us that the young Japanese tourists he's brought here have no idea what went on; they're told nothing about it at school! They're genuinely shocked when they see the what the museum tells them! From Hellfire pass, we had to jump on another passing bus to get to Namtok railway station in time for the 3:15pm train back to Kanchanaburi. This uses part of the track laid by the POWs and goes over a spectacular curved bridge before reaching the famous "Bridge On The River Kwai" at 6pm. We were absolutely exhausted when we got back to the guesthouse, but Tom's enthusiasm, humour, and many anecdotes act as the fuel for this tour. I suppose he really could have taken us anywhere, it was our host who made the trip. Unfortunately, he now spends little time at Canaan guesthouse being a pastor at Kampaeng Phet near Sukothai. If you're lucky enough to be at the guesthouse when he is, then take this tour; it's a lot of fun!
london, United Kingdom