Monday, 8 November 2010

Asian Adventure 18 :: 4-7 Nov '10 :: Kanchanaburi

The order of the day was a weekend of chilling with a little splash of culture. Kanchanburi, just two-and-a-half hours from Bangkok fitted the bill. We skipped over to Bangkok to stay at the Siamese Views Lodge for the night ('boutique' = 'basic', rather than 'trendy' in this instance) and enjoyed an evening stroll down the Khao San Road - land of henna tattoos, deep fried beetles, fake ID cards and I ♥ Boyfriend t-shirts.

The next morning, we were picked up early by our driver arranged through Xanadu 2008, where we were to stay for the following three days. Run by Dennis from the UK and his Thai wife, Nee, it was a homely place perfect for peaceful contemplation outside of the backpacker vibe in central Kanchanaburi.

Famous for being the home of The Bridge over the River Kwai (formerly the Mae Klong River before it was re-named), the majority of Kanchanaburi's delights lie away from the main tourist drag.

All are welcome

Sadly, the centre is over-populated with seedy bars offering Western food by day and sex tourism by night. Many also stop off to get their dreadlocks repaired or grab another henna tattoo before their onward trip to discover 'The Beach'. A little bit of culture before staying up for 48 hours dancing to psy-trance never hurt anybody, right?

We hired a motorbike (despite being licence-free) and journeyed off to the Erawan Waterfalls. A straight road takes you right to the doorstep of seven levels of refreshing azure plunge pools. Our young legs took us up to level five where our feet were tickled by the gentle caresses and occasional nips from the resident fish.

The only spoilers were the two over-sized Russians who 'spoke' only in sign language and who rudely motioned for me to move from where I was sitting so that they could take photos of each other posing in their skintight Speedos.

Before scooting back to base, we detoured to the Phra That Caves - a monstrous cavern hidden at the top of approximately one million steps (okay, the equivalent of doing twenty-five minutes on a poorly calibrated step machine). As we were the only visitors at the time (and it was the last week of low season), the usual cave lighting was off meaning that we had a one on one guide lit by a kerosene lamp. The experience allowed me to re-live my childhood fear of the dark and it was all topped off when the lamp was shone on a white snake coiled around the fence about 30cm from my left foot. That's when I momentarily lost my sense of humour and was glad to squeeze back through the gap in the rocks known as the exit.

We are never disappointed with Thailand. Great food, beautifully kind people and a huge variety of breathtaking and thought-provoking attractions. There's something for everyone - even dirty old men looking for a cheap date. Kanchanaburi, for us, was a superb place for some R&R whilst having enough to see and do that kept our brains from turning to mush.

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