Saturday, 29 September 2007

Turtle Island

I must say Kanchanaburi was a very nice place. The Bridge over the Kwae river (Kwai is actually a misspelling - it means water buffalo in Thai) isn't all that amazing to look at (though the setting is nice). But the history behind it is pretty cool. The museum beside the bridge is in fact a melange of all kinds of nonsense (almost worth the entrance for it's comic value), none of which is much about the bridge, the real museum is back in town and is actually one of the best laid out museums I've been in - and not too much in it to be overwhelming. Once you become aware of the huge loss of life involved in it's construction, a trip on the "death railway" itself is a must.

I hopped on a local bus out to hellfire pass, site of some of the hardest digging and something of an Aussie pilgrimage site (it was mostly Aussie POWs that worked/died on this bit). I managed to blag a lift with an intrepid tour back to Nam Tok, the (current) starting point of the Railway back, and was able to avail of some free guiding. There was only one bloke on the tour - a nice English guy, who seemed very relieved to have some male company for a change - by all accounts the girls were moaning all the time and doing his nut in. He was only on the trip cause he and his girlfriend split up just before there Phuket holiday, and she was taking the room for the two weeks! I told him he should have no problem finding a "shoulder" to cry on in Phi Phi, his next stop (he's leaving the tour).

The previous day I'd rented a bike and gone to Erawan falls with Dillon. The falls were in a really beautiful setting, without too many tourists, and some of the various levels (there are 7) made fantastic refreshing jungle swimming pools.
The trip back on the other hand was more of an endurance test - character building if you like, as we (I) drove almost the whole 2.5 hours back in the dark through torrential rain and lightning - our lights were barely able to distinguish the road from the trees. Cool. The rest of the time we spent hanging round/playing pool with English and Scottish Paul, Jayne from Canada and Ebony, an ivory Aussie girl.

So on to Ko Tao.
From Nam Tok and the Death Railway, I passed back through Kanchanaburi and onto Natham Phaton, quick stop to take a pic of the big Pagoda there, then onto a train for Chumpon. All 3rd class, and the better for it - I was the only Farang in the carriage. I had to move a little girl who had crashed out on my seat, and for the next 5 hours we had a great conversation despite her speaking no English and me having only a few dozen Thai words. Much of it went along the lines of "Nee a-rai" (what's this) and her pointing to something - I didn't think she could be taking anything in so fast, so I was pretty amazed 30 mins later when she pointed to her eyes, nose, ear, etc and said the English word. Kids just sponge up language when their young I guess.

After 4 hours kip in Chumpon it was up for the 7am ferry to Kao Tao, a long trip all and all, but worth it. So far I'm really liking the place, though it's really pretty expensive by Thai standards (the Diving is actually quite reasonable).
This morning I went to Chumpon pinacle, and it was a really excellent dive - best in a long time, with great visibility, cool rock formations, huge schools of fish and by far the most sharks I've ever seen on one dive - I lost count after 10. Top class. The second dive on white rock was pretty good but not in the same league.
So off now for some lunch and a siesta before torturing myself one last time in Choppers Aussie bar to watch the Irish try the impossible against the Argies.

P.S. Finally found a cheap internet place that doesn't electrocute you when you plug in your camera's USB cable.

1 comment:

Mary said...

good to hear from you...poor old Burma.
keep in touch m and m and j