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Formerly a Spanish teacher in Wisconsin & Illinois, I moved to Bangkok with my husband in July 2011 to teach IT at a new American International School.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just gotta get away, get me outta here!

No, I haven't gone back on my feelings of loving to live in the Big Mango. My husband was feeling, should I say, a bit cramped down by city life, so we decided to up and leave the city for a weekend. I was out last weekend at the Dusit Thani My Bar for yes, another ladies night, and I met wonderful Helen. I was explaining that I wanted to explore Thailand and help out Josh, so he didn't dislike this experience. She suggested we jump a bus to Kanchanaburi and stay at a wonderful little joint called Apples Retreat. I heeded her advice and proposed it to Josh later that evening.
So we packed our backpacks, like backpackers do, and we took a trip up to the Mo Chit bus station. Lesson #1 learned...wrong bus station. So we ended up on a mini bus that stops every 15 minutes to let someone off outside Bangkok en route to our destination. That was after we had to endure an hour in less than turtle-paced traffic on a Friday night, last night of the month, when everyone gets paid. So most everyone and their mother is leaving the city to visit friends and family in smaller provinces and towns.

So we arrive to the bus station in Kanchanaburi, after 3.5 hours. Mind you, it was supposed to take about 2.5 hrs. had we left from the Southern bus terminal. GRRR... lesson learned for next time. Bus #81...1st class for 99 THB ($3.50 roughly). We get to the bus station and I naturally had to go to the bathroom after tossing back two beverages on the mini bus on the way there. That's probably why my trip wasn't as bad as Josh's. He was ready to hop off the bus while still in Bkk. But this is the 2nd bathroom where I have to pay 3 THB to use a hole in the ground for a toilet. Mind you, I did purchase a packet of wipes to use. Fortunately, I had that on me.
We were hungry, so we phoned the inn and they said if we arrived now we could eat there, but we didn't want to bother them. We'd just grab our key from the security people and head off to bed when we got there. We were pretty tired. So we ate at a street stall. I had some pretty good Pad Thai and some other dishes that made the sweat pour in off my nose and bubble up. Then you know it is good, not to mention the Chang made it a bit better going down.
We took a tuk-tuk to get to the town and passed the WWII POW cemetery we read about. We arrived to our little Apples Retreat abode for the next two days at a mere 640 THB including air con. Not bad for less than $25/night for a clean, comfortable room away from the noise of the city, yet still on the famous River Kwai. We slept well and when we woke up, Noi, one of the partner owners, greeted us at our breakfast table. She gave us the lowdown while we ate a hearty breakfast. The food at Apples is all pretty good, and while most criticize it for being 'expensive' I wouldn't go that far. They offer cooking classes specialize in going 'green' with their preparation.
Yes, that is blue rice. They take a blue sweet pea flower and drain it on to the rice for the coloring. Still tastes the same.

We decided we would venture to Erawan National Park to trek through the 7 steps of the Erawan waterfalls.

I've been to Chimney Rock in N.C. (think Last of the Mohicans last shot), saw the falls there, been to Niagara Falls for our 1st wedding anniversary to see that. This was much better. Not built up. Just 7 different sets of waterfalls. They make you work to get to them! You have to walk a bit (about 150-500 meters to each different step) and go up in altitude (hike up!) to get to see them, hear them, and if you fancy, swim in them. Here's someone having fun jumping off the cascades (before getting cautioned by security)
What is that writing all over the bamboo trees I wonder?
We did see a monkey scaling a tree! Josh had very sharp eyes!
Note to self...bring swim suit and wear proper shoes to hike to the very top, the 7th step to the gorgeous waterfall pouring down...
Here was a cute butterfly that wouldn't go away. It just kept fluttering itself in front of me.

I think this is at the 2nd set of falls...

Josh near the 1st step of waterfalls.

Since we'd hired a driver to drive us to Erawan, we took advantage and stopped off at a couple little places, like one of the dam projects along the river. Once back in Kanchanaburi, we stopped at the River Kwai Bridge.
Outside the JEATH WWII Museum
People can walk over it, but jump to the side platforms when the train comes through.

We walked over the River Kwai Bridge to the other side, and saw floating restaurants and riverboats going underneath the bridge.

They have a nice boardwalk with vendors, a 2-storey WWII POW museum, called the JEATH museum, which stands for various countries who had POWs building this infamous bridge to expand the war in to India and Burma. There are some floating restaurants and some party riverboats trekking up and down the river. It just so happens there is a pretty interesting festival happening while we are there, so it is party central until about 3 a.m.

We had a nice sampling of Thai dishes back at Apples and then decided to venture in to the town to check out the nightlife. There is a neato little 10THB/drink-shot bar tucked quite nicely on the street with some pails to sit on as chairs on the street, and a few tightly-squeezed 'barstools' if you want to call them that. It's simply titled "Get Drunk Here for 10B" Nice. We couldn't just walk past! So we indulged with 3 drinks at a whopping B30, and kept on our way down the main road. We went to the Jolly Frog, per recommendation of a co-worker of mine, as a backpacker hangout with cheap room rates, and I tried their hamburger out of curiosity ($1.50!). I guess it is what I'd expect for about $1.50. But the beer was still pretty cheap. The toilets were cheap, too. Again, get what you pay for. Yet they had decent beer, I reiterate.

We ventured on to a tattoo parlor where I met Joe with his English bible (dictionary). I have to admit, his English learned simply from chatting with tourists is pretty good! I will return to see his latest designs. I'm a simplistic chick, so nothing stretching beyond a mere stretch of skin for this chick.
Stopped at Easy Bar, Josh watched an old geezer pick up a go-go chick. Finished watching the football game (Manchester United) and the gecko on the wall, followed by a brisk walk over the bridge back 'home' to Apples Retreat, but not before imparting on one more of my new favorites!!!
Coincidence to see another, or are they just all over Thailand?

Josh woke up early and Sharin wasn't having that, so he took the Death Railway himself at 6 a.m. (but the train was late, so they didn't leave until 7:30 a.m.) to Saiyoke Falls and Hellfire Pass. There are some other museums there and a few elephant camps. We will hold off on the elephant riding until maybe Chiang Mai and when the rivers level off.

I slept in and hopped the 'good' bus #81 back to Bkk. I was satisfied with the trip. Cheap, relaxing, getting us out of the city and now I am thirsty to try out some more, more, more of Thailand.

So was it worth it? You bet. It is always nice to take the adventurous routes and discover new sights, smells, people, foods, and experiences to log on places like this blog. I think traveling builds character. I just like to see how I survive in different environments. Everyone experiences things differently, and it is always interesting to me to listen to others' experiences where they have been, and to go there myself to find out on my own. For Josh's sake, I am hopeful he is developing an affinity for the places he has been, and in the meantime, experimenting more with his camera. I know how much he enjoys that. He sure has a talent for it. I just have the social bug talent I suppose. 

We look forward to setting our sights on visiting Krabi in a couple weeks for our October break of just over one week. I am already starting to research ideas for the holiday break, in addition to maybe some smaller trips to Hua Hin and Pattaya, since they are so close by bus.

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