Kanchanaburi Whirlwind

This past weekend, we went on another escape from the Bangkok bubble of pollution. Started off not so good: a torrential downpour, then stifling heat= SAUNA in Bangkok while we did an outdoor tour of the Grand Palace for 4 hours (not. fun.). But it ended quite well, as we accomplished many activities and avoided disaster; other then hastily buying coach class bus tickets at the station from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. My butt was numb and my brains were mush by the time we arrived at the Kanchanaburi Station 2 hours to the northwest. We were on a main highway, but sitting in the back row for the entire bus ride felt like a jungle safari trek. Or like the “rocket car” ride in Rat Race, complete with the “special” bus post-brain-scramble.

Anyway, after the usual terrors of public transportation, we arrived at our surprisingly cute little floating bungalows. Yes, floating bungalows with private porch for $7 a night. And toilet paper was included! The storm reached Kanchanaburi that night, and we had a great night exploring the backpacker street in town and just chillin on the river. The Mae Nam Khwae Yai River, that is.

View from the veranda of the Sugarcane Guesthouses...at least the river didn't flood while we were sleeping on it!

On Saturday, we decided to spring for a tour package and just do the dang thang. I was adamantly opposed to paying to be escorted around with a group of strangers, but I ended up being SO happy with our tour. It was cheaper and more efficient than figuring out each activity on our own, and we met some hilarious Brits and dumb Canadians in our group. And our Thai tour guides were equally amusing, as they were just asking about everyone’s boyfriends and suggesting night clubs in town. As well as valuable historical tidbits, that is. So basically, they drove us all around the area and handled all the logistics. Awesome. Missions accomplished: Erawan Waterfalls (7 tiers of swimmable, beautiful waterfalls, and a great hike. I was craving some exercise! Complete with backpack-stealing monkeys and feet-nibbling fish), elephant rides (fun for the novelty of it), a bamboo raft ride down the river (literally riding on sticks), a train ride (crazy mountain scenery), then visited “the” bridge over the River Kwai (I was more concerned with the coconut icey drinks by then). What would have cost around $100+headaches+ 2 days only cost $30 for a great toursity day! When you don’t speak the language and when getting ripped off is ambiguous (should it be cheap? or even cheaper?), tours seem to be the way to go.

The central city of Kanchanaburi seemed pretty dingy around the bus stop, but along the river there was the customary strip of backpacker bars, delicious eateries, sexy lady-boys, and fabulously inexpensive massage studios. Yes, another Thai massage. When in Thailand!

The 7th and final waterfall. It was actually a decent hike! Or maybe I can attribute the difficulty to my recent lack of exercise...

Turquoise waters filled with dead skin-eating fish. It's cute until the foot-long fishies suck on your toes!

Thai Buddhists believe that there are spirits in all living beings; there are often clothes, treasures, and rainbows of silks wrapped around trees as offerings to the spirits.

A legitimate warning. We saw a mischievous monkey snag a backpack from a Speedo-clad Russian guy and steal his lunch. It's ok, he deserved it for his offensive attire.

The elephant rides were relaxing, slow, and nicely uneventful. Minus the massive pooping.

Squirrel for sale at the Kanchanaburi Night Market. I don't believe that it's humane to capture rodents from wildlife and sell them next to bootleg DVDs..."You should have bought a squirrel!!"

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