Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October 28: Bangkok

(1) I didn't stay out too late the night before, only taking some time to explore the great night market and have a Thai massage. This morning, despite the fact that I never received my 5am wake up call from the security guard (who was sleeping on three chairs as I walked past him), I still managed to make it over to the station in time for the 6:07am train on the Death Railway. I know this sounds a little insane, considering that trains also depart at 10:50am and 4:30pm, but I had two reasons for being up and going at such an early hour. The first reason is simply because I wanted to get back to Bangkok with plenty of time to hang out and get things done (gifts, etc). The better reason for being on the early train is because I like the way things look and feel at dawn - it's a different kind of sky and a different quality of air, perfect for riding alone inside an old, wooden rail car with the windows down.

(2) The ride lasted a scenic 2.5 hours, ending in a town called Nam Tok. Most travelers, those hoping to make their way back on one of the return trains (5:25am, 1:00pm, and 3:15pm), would wander around the area, visiting Hellfire Pass or some of the nearby caves and waterfalls. Others might even find their way over to Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua Yannasampanno... otherwise known as the Tiger Temple. Believe me, I was tempted by the idea of being able to pet a tiger while hanging out with the monks, but time (along with several rumors that the tame animals are really just drugged out of their heads) convinced me to grab bus #8203 back into Kanchanaburi. An hour later, I was on a second bus to Bangkok. Moral of the story: there's only four things that are really worth doing in Kanchanaburi, and it doesn't take an expensive tour to do them. With a little planning and effort, one should be able to conquer the museum, cemetery, bridge, and railway in a 24-hour period... which is kind of cool for those pressed for time, but still wanting to see the WWII sights.

(3) Having started the trip in the Sukhumvit part of Bangkok, I decided, this time, to lodge somewhere in the famous backpacker ghetto on Khao San Road. Though I planned to stay up all night to assure that I wouldn't sleep through my 6am flight home, I still checked into a room at the Siam Oriental Guest House. Basically, I just needed a place for my stuff and a shower. All sorted out, I did some last minute gift shopping, walked around the city for a while, and finally settled into a sidewalk cafe to watch the endless street parade of backpackers and merchants. The energy is great on Khao San Road, and, despite the fact that it's a giant vaccuum for money, it's probably the best place to start and finish a trip to Thailand. Unlike Sukhumvit, I found it very easy to meet other travelers, and actually spent the rest of the evening hanging out with some Dutch kid. We grabbed dinner and then matched each other, round for round, at the bars until they closed. After a disappointing order of Tom Yam Kung (Thailand's famous spicy soup), we worked our way over to a place called Center Khao San. Serving, at this hour, only non-descript rum and cokes, this is sort of the Khao San Road speak easy. I stayed here until about 3:30am, went back to my room for a shower, and then grabbed a taxi for the airport. My Thailand vacation had come to an upbeat and well-celebrated finish.

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At 3:18 AM, Blogger Living in Thailand said...

Please do not write that the Tigers are drugged they are not.
Come and check it out your self

Walking with Tigers

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like something an uneducated farang would say. (drugged tigers)
Most likely a tourist not a traveler. Cheers


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