Amazing Thailand
( 24 may - 13 June 1998 part 2)

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Kanchanaburi
Koh Tao
Bangkok part 3

Day 9 Kanchanaburi

In the hotel we managed to get a brochure from the travelagency with the times of the trains leaving southwards. The first train to Kanchanaburi left at 7.50 and only two trains a day go so we took this one because the other leaves late in the afternoon. We took a tuk tuk to the boat and there we went with the boat for 1B across the river (the Thonburi station is right on the other side). The train had only 3th class seats and we paid 25B pp for that. It was 133 Km and it took the train 3 hours.

Already in the train people of the guesthouses approached us. We ignored them deliberately and when we arrived we took for 20B a samlor (rickshaw) and went along some other guesthouses. The first one we didn't like and the second one, the VN guesthouse looked a lot better and there we stayed.

Kanchanaburi is famous because of the "bridge over the river kwai" but we went first into the center to visit the Jeath museum. I read about this and it would be the most impressive museum. After quite a long walk we found it at the other side of the center.

The museum is a replica of a bamboo hut from one of the camps. All the photos, drawings and newspaper articles give a realistic view about the life in the camps and made a big impression. Entrance to the museum is 30B.

When we were outside somebody approached us another time and asked us if we were interested in a boat trip to the Chungkai cemetery, the Wat Tham Kao Poon and the bridge. We wanted to got the bridge anyway and that's on the other side a few km outside the town we agreed on a price of 300B.

I found the Chungkai cemetery quite impressive because it is well taken care of and the line on the stone in front of the cemetery is good " their name liveth for evermore". On this original cemetery Dutch, English, American and Australians are buried.

ChungKai cemetery

Chungkai cemetery

The Wat Tham Khao Poon is a temple with the most important attraction a holy cave and it was a bit disappointing. After the temple the bridge and as expected not really spectacular and only interesting because everything that happened here.

 

Bridge over the river Kwai

Bridge over the river Kwai

When we walked back to the guesthouse Rob started to complain about headache and fatigue. He went straight to bed and slept until the next day without eating anything. I stayed at the guesthouse that night, had a wonderful pineapple curry (40B) and talked with some other tourists. Evenings are very pleasant there because of the cooling wind that seems to be always there on the side of the river.

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Kanchanaburi

Day 10 Kanchanaburi

Rob was still feeling not good and wanted to go to the hospital as a precaution. There they did a blood test and didn't find any trace of malaria (normally malaria has an incubation time of at least 7 days). They did find something like a virus but couldn't identify it and because he had fever they wanted him to stay for one night to see how his situation would develop. The virus probably causes a kind of influenza. When i walked back to the guesthouse it became clear that Kanchanaburi is developing in a big town. The hospital was quite new and looked good.

I didn't do much that day, went back to the hospital that afternoon and in the evening i went with the Englishman i met the night before to the apache saloon. An expensive bar with a band but we didn't stay for long.

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Day 11 Another time Kanchanaburi

Rob was released from the hospital but because he wasn't really fit we stayed at the guesthouse. There we met a French family that was travelling already for 6 months with two children. They started in Zimbabwe then Australia, Malaysia and finally Thailand. They recommended us to go to Koh Tao. At night i had another wonderful curry. Only for the food i can recommend the guesthouse already but despite that at night it's wonderful along the river thanks to the wind.

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Start Kanchanaburi

Day 12 Ratchaburi en Chumphon

After recommendations of the Englishman and the French family we decided to go to Koh Tao. We took the local, non airco bus to Ratchaburi and in about 3 hours we arrived there. Here we had a couple of hours before the first train in the direction of Chumphon would arrive.

We spent part of the time by going to a bank because the weekend was approaching and we were going to an island. After about 15 minutes walking from the train station we arrived by the first bank. Here we got a lot of attention either because they're not used to tourists there of because of us terribly sweating. It was really hot there that day. Anyway it was the way they helped us because in no time they offered us tissues to dry our faces and gave us some cold water. Beside that we got the best exchange rate ever in Thailand.

At 15.40 the train left for Chumphon. We only were able to get 3th class tickets of 121B. That's really not much for a distance of 370 Km on tough wooden benches but of course there's no meal included. We were the only tourists in that part of the train but came in touch with some Thai people soon who i think enjoyed the possibility to practice their English and for one time didn't want us to go somewhere like buying clothes.

The train took about 6 hours to Chumphon and there we went for a restaurant first. Right across the train station is the Puen Jai restaurant. With a big sign they attract attention for selling boat tickets as well. We wanted to take the night boat at first which would leave around midnight. Ok, we thought that's a good combination but food they did sell and tickets they didn't. Besides that the restaurant was probably a brothel as well because of all the women that were walking around there.

The people in the restaurant directed us to a travelagency about 1 Km further in the same street but that was already closed of course. Some friendly neighbors brought us to the Mao guesthouse next. The owner, a very friendly woman persuaded us to stay for the night. On the other she would have brought us to the boat as well at 23.00 PM because she sells tickets for all the boats as well. The ticket for the express boat in the morning was 400B transport included and that boat makes the trip in about 3 hours instead of the 6 hours for the night boat.

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Ratchaburi

Day 13 Koh Tao

Already on the boat we were approached by people from the island to stay with them. When we arrived more people were there to talk us into their accommodations. We decided to check out the place where the French family stayed but when we took a taxi (here they had only pickups) and saw it we didn't like it all because you had no view on the beach and all the bungalows were standing close to each other in a circle.

At the port we were approached by an Australian guy who was very nice and had a quite new resort called "Coral View resort" and because he didn't push us into going there we decided to go for it. A small problem was that the taxi couldn't bring us because you need a 4-wheel drive to get there and those, they don't have on the island. We went back to the port because i left his card there with his phone number. Luckily the card was still there and when we phoned him he asked us to go to the another resort in the bay before and there a boat would pick us up. Walking was possible also from there but with luggage i wouldn't recommend it because of the steep hill in between the bays.

Aow Thian OK

Aow Thian Ok
from the hill between the resorts

The resort is on the southside of the island and in a bay full with coral. They have a restaurant along the hill with a great view of the bay. Right across they have nine bungalows with limited view on the beach but beautiful located between palmtrees and in a nice condition. The price for nice place was good, 250B per bungalow, excluded the very good kitchen. Disadvantages they have of course also, because they have power until the generator runs out of diesel in the night and that meant the fan doesn't work much and it's hot in the nights.

Bungalow location

View from the restaurant
towards the bungalows

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Day 14 Rest and snorkeling

Another consequence of the generator became clear in the morning they couldn't make fruit-shakes because the generator still had no fuel. This day was dedicated for the rest to snorkeling. In this bay the neighbor rents fins and snorkel and i tried to hire both but he only had small fins so i had to do without them.

Beach view

View on the sea
from the bungalow

The bay worked out to be a great place for snorkeling because about 5 mtr from the shore the coral already started and i was surrounded by all kind of fish. With some sun that day i had a lot of fun and a reasonable sunburn on my back.

 

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Snorkeling

Day 15 Beach

The bay doesn't have a great beach because there is a lot of coral washed ashore and you can't swim very well because of all the coral. The next bay called Ao Leuk on the other hand is a great place to swim because it only has coral on the sides and is really small and beautiful. We had to walk across the next hill and in about half an hour we arrived there. A bit disappointing was that there was a big speedboat in the bay with about 20 people who occupied the small because. But we were lucky because almost 15 minutes later they all left.

Ao Leuk

Ao Leuk

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Day 16 Mae Haad

We are not really the beach types so we went to the only village on the island, Mae Haad. Through a very steep climb we arrived walking in one hour and 15 minutes in the village. We had enough of travelling and thought it was enough on this island so we decided to go back to Bangkok. Here we booked the boat and the train. They both worked out to connect very well. The travelagency could get us the train-ticket the next morning. In the village it was even possible to send email although it is expensive compared to Bangkok. Here i paid 50B for sending two short emails offline and no possibility to read email.

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Day 17 Back to Bangkok

The boats worked out a bit confusing because two small open speedboats leave on the same time on both sides of the pier. We were in the wrong one and the people of boat discovered that minutes before leaving by checking our tickets when we sat already on board. Fortunately we were just in time for the other boat.

The boat was just out of the bay and we discovered how rough it can be. There was not much wind and the waves were small but the boat came down quite hard on those waves so i got afraid of getting seasick but fortunately it became calmer later. The boat took 2 hours to get us to Chumphon although normally it takes about 1.5 hour and we paid 250B for it. The train we booked left about 45 minutes after we arrived and we still had to go to the train-station so we had about 10 minutes left when we got there. We paid for the train-ticket 550B and that was quite much because some other people that came with us from the island managed to get one at the station for 390B.

 

Lost Glory

Lost glory in the
harbor of Chumpon

Around 19.40 PM we arrived in Bangkok and went to the same hotel again. I could finally read my email and we could watch the first game of world soccer championship that night. People in Thailand are real fanatic soccer fans so it was possible to watch it in every bar and restaurant.

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Day 18 Chinatown

We took the boat for 5B to Chinatown. After two weeks in Thailand we were finally able to resist all tuk tuk and taxi drivers and we walked to the boat stop about 10 minutes from Kao San.

I loved Chinatown. All market for kilometers long in small streets and alleys. We looked here for camera-lenses and they were also a lot cheaper but with some effort we were not persuaded to buy again.

Chinatown market

Chinatown market

Of course it happened to us also that we got lost but with some asking and searching we managed to find the boat relatively easy.

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Chinatown

Day 19 Vimanmek

Again we took the boat this time to raise the cultural level of our stay a bit. We went to the vimanmek mansion that's an old summer palace from the king that was located on Koh Si Chang. They took it apart and rebuild in in Bangkok. The palace is completely made of teak wood and you can't find metal nail in it. They used only wooden nails.

Besides the palace we saw some other interesting building. Most interesting was the photo museum where they exhibited quite a lot pictures taken by the king himself. Here you get to know a bit the person who is so important for the country. Besides photography he seems to be fond of making music because we saw pictures of him playing saxophone and piano.

Vimanmek mansion

Vimanmek mansion

On the way to there we had to walk quite a bit from the boat so on the way back we tried to look for a previous stop. We didn't succeed to find it so after some walking the surrounding looked familiar and it became clear that we were already in Banglamphu and walked the rest also.

It was the day before we had to leave so the rest of the day we spent the rest of our money on buying more clothes and then i found that the prices on Kao San are even better than Chiang Mai. Furthermore i took the last opportunity for a Thai massage again.

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Vimanmek

Day 20 National museum and departure

Unfortunately we had to leave this day but our departure time from the airport was 22.30 PM so we still had the whole day. Now we got used a bit to Bangkok we went walking again and this time to the national museum. The museum was about 10 minutes from Kao San Road. It is a quite large museum with a lot of different things to see. I found it a bit disappointing because i found it confusing how it was organized and the emphasis is mainly on the last century. Altogether it was worth the visit after all and they do have some interesting things to see,

On our arrival we took the train into town and that we liked so we took the train back to the airport also. Concerning the distance and the possibility of traffic-jams and maybe not to many trains to get onto it is a good thing to take your time to get to the airport. We had no problems at all. We left the hotel at 16.30 and about 2 hours later mainly because we had to wait 45 minutes for the first train to leave we arrived on the airport. The flight was alright despite a 3 hour delay in France because of repairs to the plane.

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National museum

Final remarks

 

I find Thailand a beautiful country. People are very nice but very eager in making some money outf of you and that makes it difficult to know if they mean their friendliness or not. The suspicion you get is not nice but necessary and i don't blame them. It's their way of living, their country and in their conditions i would probably have done the same.

Furthermore i liked the way of travelling very much. In Thailand it is excellent possible to travel without reservations and organized trips. In three weeks i spent almost the same as three weeks in Spain ( I included the flight that was a bit cheaper than normal) so my choice is made i want to go back another time to Thailand.

Another thing that i noticed was that it is probably the best time to go because it was quiet and we hardly had any rain. The busiest time is from November until January (coolest time also) and the most rains falls from July until September.

The second time we were in Bangkok i had enough of the pollution and the heath and wanted to leave the city as soon as possible. Eventually the 3th time i enjoyed the city because it has a lot to offer and to see and after some days you get used to the smell and the heath.

At the moment of writing this it's almost 3 weeks ago that we returned and i'm already thinking about my next holiday. I definitely want to go backpacking again. Because of my holiday i had to do a lot of catching up on my Spanish course and that gave the decision to go to South America again next year.

One last thing i have one larium tablet to go and i still sleep lousy every night. I didn't have a good feeling about this heavy drug when i started taking it because it doesn't give a high, reasonable protection but now having these side-effects i think this i probably the last time also that i take it.

The decision to call 1998 "Amazing Thailand" year for promotional reasons became close to the truth for me.

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Last changed: 18-10-98


1998: Jeroen promo
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