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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

51. Kanchanaburi

Where Am I?
Ever woken up wondering where you are? It's dark and unfamiliar and you're not sure just where you are or what time it is? Well this is the state I found myself in. I woke, looked around, wondering for a minute where I was and then remembered I was in Kanchanaburi in my room at PLOY. I wondered what the time was - it seemed very dark, with eyes half shut I made it to my suitcase, fumbled around for my travel clock ($19.95 from Coles Supermarket, Darwin 2006) and squinted at the time. It was just after 1.30 in the morning which meant I'd missed dinner and slept for something like 8 hours.

I remember drinking water and went outside but had to be careful I didn't get locked out because I remembered they hadn't given me a key which I thought a little odd. Oh well, not to worry, I'll get one later in the morning when everyone's awake. Sitting outside on this wooden seat outside my room, it was quite pleasant as I sat and smoked.

Back To Bed
Back inside and it's off to la la land again, this time to awaken at around 4.30am, then back in the land of dreams. It was something like 8.15am when I finally woke and was awake enough to greet the day.

First Morning
After some enquiries of other guests, I found my way to the restaurant and sat at one of the tables facing the river - the photo below is my view. I metnioned to one of the staff that I hadn't been given a room key and they said I hadn't checked in! Apologetic I explained I had felt unwell and had thought to lie dow for a short time but had slept until morning. I filled out the form and was given a key.

Above: Swimming pool at PLOY GH
Isn't this a wonderful view to have when you awaken? I thought so and was so glad I had chosen this guesthouse rather than the other one (there were two I had in mind) - it was very quiet, peaceful and serene. But above all, it was the sort of place you could just sit and relax - no noisy party goers and pool splashing which I realised was just what I needed, especially after yesterday's fiasco of heat, head and nausea.

Above: Restaurant bar at PLOY
You could order drinks (read alcoholic) here and the staff were very friendly. A light breakfast was included - toast and tea/coffee. I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon plus orange juice.

Above: Cuppa
AFter my umpteenth cuppa I felt more human and wide awake - gone were the woes of yesterday and I was ready to face the day and begin my adventures.

Organising a Tour
As I had only today and part of tomorrow, I set about organising a tour so I could see the places I had come ot see. My original intention had been to arrive from the airport late in the afternoon, have a rest, a snack and book a tour the same day, but due to having fallen asleep straight away, that didn't happen. I asked the lady at reception did they do tours and she was happy to help. Bringing out a booklet for me, I knew which one I wanted to do but then realised it was no good - they all left at 8.00am in the morning and it was already 8.45 by this time. She was going to book it for the next day, but when I explained it had to be today as I was going back to Bangkok tomorrow, she spoke with one of the young chaps and said I'd have to have a driver (like a private tour).

The places that I really wanted to see were Hellfire Pass, Erawan Waterfall and I wanted to catch the train at Namtok Station and ride the train back to Kanchanaburi. She made a few phone calls, but the drivers were all booked. Consulting with her off-sider, they checked the train timetable and said the last train left Namtok ad 3.15. I was given the choice of a tuk-uk for 1,800 baht or a car and driver for 1,700 baht. I hadn't known it would be so expensive, but I chose the car and driver and very glad I did. The weather was very hot and the car was air-conditioned. Tuk-tuks are not.

Anyway, we made a time for 9.30 after I had a quick shower. My driver came and we set off. I asked him to stop so I could buy water, which he did - 7 baht for a small bottle and 14 baht for a large one. I bought two small bottles. The driver was very good too, he said it was better to go to ERawan Falls first, then Hellfire Pass because of where they were located. The drive to Erawan National Park was a very long one.

Above: Sidecar passenger
We stopped here as I wanted to have a smoke and stretch my legs (that's the beauty of private tours - you can stop where and when you want). This little moppet was in his father's sidecar which is used to transport vegies and other goods.

Above: Bad Driver
Just as we were getting ready to get back in the car, a driver started reversing and bang! hit our car. My driver was not amused. The other driver, a female and he held a rather heated discussion. I have yet to see drivers in an accident in Thailand exchange names and licence numbers. This is the car that hit ours.

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