Kanchanaburi comes highly recommended by all the travel bloggers and tourists’ sites. I disagree. I wouldn’t waste the time there. We did have a bad experience, though. We should have taken a train out of Thonburi station but our tuk tuk driver refused to take us there, so we missed the only morning train that went directly there. I was able to get us another train (with air conditioning) most of the way there. We took a bus the rest of the way, from Ban Pong to Kanchanaburi. While it took much longer to get there, and we ultimately did not have much time there, we did get to see Ban Pong. It was a cute little town, not touristy at all, and the people were extremely helpful.
One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Kanchanaburi was for the ‘floating nun.’ While Tony and I would recommend it, Amelia had mixed feelings about her. We took a tuk tuk from the train station to a temple outside of the city. Here, there is a Buddhist nun that can float while meditating. It is most certainly a tourist trap. She will only float if she gets 200 baht ($7 USD). So, being the tourists that we were, we paid our 200 baht and watched her float in a very dirty tub of water, about the size of a large hot tub, but deeper. It lasted about 3-4 minutes. Please do your research on the floating nun before making any commitments to a very long journey to see her. If nothing else, it will be a good story for you and your group. You certainly won’t forget it!
The other ‘thing’ to see in Kanchanaburi is the Kwai River Bridge. We saw it. It was just a bridge. Another thing to see is the death railway. The railway was built by Prisoners of War after World War II. Something like 80,000 POWs died building the railway. We took this train back to Bangkok that afternoon. It was almost a three-hour ride, with no air conditioning. It was loud, dusty, not a pleasant experience. I, however, am grateful for the opportunity. I was able to experience what the local people in Thailand do. I was able to see the countryside. And, the most interesting part was the middle-aged Scottish man seated behind us who was pursuing a local woman half his age. He was offering her beer, and at one point, I heard him offer her 400 baht (for sex, I assume). It was loud, so I had a hard time understanding the entire exchange, but once we got into Bangkok, they got off at the same station together. He was very, very drunk; she was put together and clearly knew what she was doing.
We did have some very good Pad Thai and Singh beers in Kanchanaburi. The day didn’t pan out at all like I wanted it to – the timing of the few trains going into the village made it difficult of us to see anything. We were exhausted, mostly from the heat, by the time we made it back to Bangkok. So, we grabbed a tuk tuk to bring us back to our hostel, with hopes we would find a restaurant along the way.
A tuk tuk is a scooter like device used to transport people around the cities in Thailand. They hold no more than three people plus the driver. I think of them as an open air, mini pick-up truck; people climb into the back, no safety belts, just grab bars, and the driver totes you around for 100 to 200 baht. Our tuk tuk driver was drunk. No doubt about it. We had taken dozens of tuk tuks in the 48 hours we had been in Bangkok, each one a pretty pleasant experience. This one, however, drove frantic and FAST. He had us on a three-lane highway, buzzing in and out of traffic as though he were a city bus. On the exit ramp off, he stopped at the stop light and bent over to his left side, opened a big thermos, and filled his cup with a beer colored liquid. It was only a three-mile ride, but it was quite intense. That was our last tuk tuk ride in Bangkok.
Hungry and tired, we wondered a few blocks near our hostel when Tony saw a restaurant down and alley. I was overly skeptical, wondering how many roaches we would encounter on the way (I only saw two the entire trip!), but it was some of the best food we had in Thailand. Pad Thai and fried bananas with coconut ice cream. Yum!
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