Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Thailand did it again. Our weekend in Kanchanaburi, hereinafter referred to as K-Town, was most excellent. We arrived around 7 in the evening after a bus ride from Dan Chang that took us through some serious back-country. We are quickly realizing that the best way to see Thailand at it's core is to take the local buses. This means you never reach a speed of more than 37mph, stops to pick up and let off passengers are completely arbitrary and the electric fans that substitute for air-conditioning work for less than 1/3 of the trip. Its cheap and slow, but gets you there...eventually. Our accommodation for the weekend was the Pong Phen Guesthouse, great rooms and a very friendly, hospitable family running the place.We took in a late dinner after a shower and beer, hence my first showerbeer of the trip was had!

Then a few of our fellow teachers joined us later in the evening which soon became early in the morning and before we knew it the bar was closed and I had a nice, peaceful, easy feeling. Saturday morning was less than an nice, peaceful, easy feeling for my stomach, but the refreshing waterfalls
and pools of Erawan National Park was the quick cure. The park is about an 1 ½ hours from K -Town and is one of the most popular in Thailand. Home to wildlife of all sorts, including tigers and monkeys, the park is best known for the seven tiers of waterfalls you can hike along, eventually leading you to the top of a mountain stream that is the beginning of the falls.

Our Irish friends, Gerry and Noni McAndrew, accompanied us on the trek to the top. Stopping at each of the separate falls to take pictures, swim and relax was a great way to spend a Saturday. There were fish in many of the pools that were a bit too eager to nibble at your toes and other appendages if you didn't keep moving. I found the trick was to sit directly in the waterfall, like a grizzly bear, to avoid being a living buffet for the fish. We were blown away at the fairy tale like appearance of the waterfalls, the pictures do not do justice to the beauty of the park. You must visit.

We treated ourselves to a dinner of pizza and steak. I had the filamion (that is how the restaurant spelled it) and Deb went with a cheese and pineapple pizza, not too shabby a meal for $14, beers included. It was an early night for us as the trek, the heat and the big meal wore us out.

Before departing K-Town on Sunday we stopped at a museum dedicated to the history of the Burma-Thailand railroad, aka The Death RailRoad. Built during World War II by prisoners of war and native Thai people, the construction and maltreatment by Japanese guards led to the death of 200,000.

The museum was very detailed and we were thoroughly impressed with it, again, you must visit if ever in K-Town. We also walked through a cemetery filled with the remains of allied POW's who died while building the railroad. It was a grim reminder of the sacrifices so many made during World War II. The local Thai community keeps the cemetery in immaculate condition, not a blade of grass too long or any noticeable aging of the headstones, truly a fitting homage to those who did not survive.

Our bus ride home was fascinating, we passed through small hamlets, rice paddies, jungle and farm fields. Each locale had a distinct smell, some very pleasant and others were reminiscent of my athletic days when the locker room was filled with 150 hockey and football players.

Deb's highlight of the ride home and my trauma filled, nightmare scenario lived out, worse than you can imagine ordeal occurred. As I sat quietly and calmly in seat 13c on the number 325 bus to Dan Chang I was attacked. At first I thought it was the heat, sweat dripping down my leg has not been uncommon and when I went to wipe it off, there was not sweat, but a lump!

As fear invaded every bone in my body I slowly applied pressure to the lump on my upper-inner thigh and much to my horror, it moved...Ice cold sweat began pouring down my face as my mind raced with thoughts of a scorpion, centipede or worst of all a pit viper attached on my upper-inner thigh. I elbowed Deb and said in shaky voice that there is something up my pants and its moving, she told me not to be inappropriate. When I assured her it was not my juvenile humor coming out, she got a littler more interested.

A small gecko, little more than 3 inches long had crawled up my pants at some point. When our eyes met, mine and the gecko that is, pandemonium ensued, I screamed like a school girl when asked to homecoming by the captain of the football team and the gecko hightailed it off my leg to the safety of the floor and God only knows where. Needless to say, every Thai person on the bus who witnessed my sad little display did the only thing they knew how, they laughed. The mother and child in front of us moved to another seat and Deb just rolled about, laughing with them all. Long story short, I am wearing rubber bands around my ankles from now on and I do not care how bad of a fashion statement that is. No more geckos in this guys trousers!

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