The day after Chatuchak, Mary and I decided we needed things to be a bit more calm than bustling Bangkok (because busy Bangkok bodies blasting by bade better backpacking bloopers bussing by boundaries to Kanchanburi).
Kanchanburi is where the Bridge over the River Kwai (and, not coincidentally, the river kwai itself) rests, but also happens to be relatively close to Erawan National Park wherein lie some beautiful waterfalls. We also heard tale of elephant riding and river rafting adventures.
The bus ride was easy enough and took about 2 hours. Upon arrival we were bombarded by the typical riff-raff looking for baht to taxi us to our guest house. Luckily we were smart enough to know that a safe Saamlaw with benches and doors was no place for people who had been traveling for 7 whole days and knew better than to get ripped off by some jerk with seat-belts.
Caution just wouldn’t do, so for 50 baht instead of 100 baht we found a guy who had a motor bike, some rickety old boards, a half-broken lawn chair, duct tape, and a little engineering know-how (you get engineering know-how from Legos, right?). He was very nice, somehow stacked our backpacks on his contraption, and drove slow enough that I probably wouldn’t have been in the hospital for more than a few days if I fell off.
Arriving unscathed we checked into our bungalow at Sam’s House and were stoked. The room was small but clean with a decent bed and A/C. It sat in a row of bungalows set atop pillars jutting from the river and would make a cozy and convenient base-camp for our Kanchanburi activities.
Our first order of business was to find some food and on recommendation from Sam’s House, headed to a place called Thai-Thai. It was delicious and cheap, and had free wi-fi. Who could complain? We powered down our lunch then Mary caught site of place across the street offering fish massage.
I wasn’t quite sure where exactly Mary had gotten a fish, or why on earth she’d want to have someone massage it, but I followed along as the owner of the shop (who also happened to be the waitress and cashier where we just ate) excitedly ushered us in.
For those of you not in the know, a fish massage is a very ticklish activity involving hundreds of nemo-sized fish. You wash your feet, step up onto a bench, and then plunge your legs into their tank. They immediately swarm to your feet and begin testing your reflexes and bladder control as they nibble away at the dead skin.
I can’t say that when the fish were done doing their thing I noticed a huge difference in how my feet felt, but since it was just the prequel to an hour long foot massage I wasn’t going to complain. After 60 minutes of elderly Thai women treating our feet like two salamis in need of physical therapy, Mary and I decided to rent some bikes and pedal to the bridge to finish off our first day at Kanchanburi.
The bike ride was only a few minutes and on a fairly serene street. As we pulled up to the bridge the sun was lowering in the sky and making for some really nice scenery. After snapping some photos we set off to cross the bridge.
Nearly at the other side of the river we caught wind of some mumblings that a train was coming. I arrogantly told Mary “Please, there is no way that they still run trains across this thing!” TOOT TOOT. In fact, there it came. We scootched to one of the platforms on the side of the bridge and watched as the train came and went. It’s used only for tourist purposes these days, but it’s amazing to think that 60 years ago this was one of the main trade lines for the Japanese.
That night we headed a bit further past Thai-thai’s for dinner after returning our bikes and had some good old fashion pizza…made by a Swiss guy. Whatever. At this point we were a bit tired of Thai food and just wanted to change things up a bit. The food was quite good and we headed back to Sam’s House on full stomachs, and ready for a good night’s sleep after a great first day in Kanchanburi.