Sunday, October 6, 2013

Plan 'B' for my Term Break Vacation

So my grand vacation plan for visiting the remote island of Koh Phayam on the Andaman Sea was thwarted at the last minute by the weather. See, it is the tail end of the rainy season here in Thailand, and down on the Isthmus of Kra (I LOVE that place name! Sounds like something out of a fantasy novel), a couple hundred miles south of Bangkok, they're getting whalloped right now by the last big monsoon storm to roll in the from the Indian Ocean.

Three hours before I planned on leaving my condo to catch a bus to Ranong, I thought I would check what the weather was going to be like down south. It was to start raining on Sunday, hard. Multiple inches everyday through Thursday, the day I was planning on coming back.

Well, that wouldn't make much of a vacation, now would it? I once spent a three-day weekend in Mendocino, CA with nothing but pouring rain outside. At that time, I was with a girlfriend, and so we found other things to do.

Time for Plan B!

The next town on my places-I-want-to-see was where I am writing this blog right now! KANCHANABURI!!

Please see the map showing you exactly where Kanchanburi is located. Not pictured is the land border on the left hand side of the map with Burma. This town is at the base of the exotic-sounding 'Three Pagodas Pass' one of ways through the mountains into Thailand's western neighbor. Tomorrow, I plan on driving my rented motorbike (I came here by bus) up into the mountains.

They look weird, don't they? I mean, they don't like any mountains I've ever seen before. All angular and funky shaped. Look at those lines.

There's a big river that runs through Kanchanaburi. You might have heard of it. It's the River Kwai.

I happened to arrive at my river-front hotel ($10 a night, gotta love SE Asian prices) in the midst of some major rowing competition. The boats were HUGE!! They had to have 60 or 70 crewmen each. Too long to even fit in a singly frame grab.

With Kanchanburi being at the base of the pass into Burma, the Japanese decided it was the perfect place from which to build a railroad linking their SE Asian conquests (Thailand wasn't technically conquered by Japan, and was actually sort of an ally, but that is a long and complicated story) into Burma to kick some British butt.

The railroad was completed in 1942 using POW (mostly other Asians, but many thousand Brits, Dutch and Aussies too) slave labor. An important bridge was built right here in Kanchanaburi. The Bridge Over the River Kwai. I think we had to read that book in high school. Maybe that was the Bridges of Toko Ri. I can't remember. Although I certainly remember the movie starring Obi Wan Kenobi. That was a great movie. “Oh my God. What have I done?” <--all time great movie quote.

After the bridge, I visited the adjacent War Museum. You'll see a lot more of this interesting place when I find to do some video editing, suffice to say they had a hall-of-fame of WWII heroe statues out front. There were two Americans: MacArthur and Truman. Yeah, Truman. Was FDR too hard to sculpt?

They also had DeGaulle, Churchill, Stalin, bad guys like Mussolini and Tojo and of course, this guy:

Now, I understand that the Atomic Bomb was born in WWII, and perhaps without this guy, there wouldn't have been an atom bomb at that time, but, umm... in a list of WWII figures, I scratch my head at the inclusion of...

I then got lost on my way to the Kao Pun cave temple, but once I found it I was in spelunking bliss. My back is feeling a lot better this week, but squeezing my way through this long and interesting cave was a bit of a physical challenge.

Day One of my vacation is in the books. This Kanchanaburi place ranks right up there with the most beautiful sites I have visited in my time here, and tomorrow, it's only going to get better. 


  1. The mountains are so much rounder looking than the Rockies. I am really really enjoying your vacation. Fascinating place.

  2. Uggghh... and it's raining hard here too now.

  3. You’re right, Joko. Those mountains look a little odd. But I think that was one of the most amazing scenes that got from your vacation. Anyway, do you have any plans this coming Christmas?



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