Tag Archives: river

Day 3 Sangkhlaburi excursion

My pink motorbike has a sticker that says “I love dogs”. Not true. In fact there are packs of quite scary ones on the roads. At least they would be scary if they were nourished enough to have the energy to chase you.

I take the road to burma. This follows much of the route of the mostly disappeared death railway. I take a detour down a windy empty jungle road to a forest park, which is deserted, and the gate is open. Tentatively I enter the park, park and begin a magical walk through bamboo groves, crazy unidentifiable vegetation until the path gets denser and follows an increasingly bubbling stream. Up stream is a myriad of low cascades, water falling in clear sheets in sparkling deep green pools, flanked by gnarled trees with complex twisty root structures. I'm in the middle of the river. On a little island, in fact. Cascades and pools all around me. Peace, the only sound is the rushing water. This is truly sublime. Not a soul present. Just me.

The spell is slightly ruptured when I meet a couple of rangers coming to check out who it is that's in the park…but they quickly disappear.

My ride continues to the Three Pagodas Pass. This is historically an important place, where the death railway enters burma, and where the armies of ayutthya fought the invading burmese. The pagodas are small are sited on a grassy island, with immigration offices on one side, orchid stalls on another. There is a couple of Hindu burmese selling little samosa in small oil boilers that they can pick up and walk around with. There are some fresh faced languishing soldiers in full uniform carrying assault rifles ostensibly guarding the border, but they look rather disinterested. Their posture and expression changes when I ask to take their pictures, and they stand rigidly to attention. To my disappointment, I discover I'm not allowed to make the short walk into the neighbouring burmese town. Apparently it's only for Thais. It's not a proper frontier.

Immigration is clearly an issue here. In the 20 miles or so I cover i pass at least 3 checkpoints.being a white face I'm greeted with smiles, waves and laughs. Has I been in a longyi, darkskinned and huddled in the back of a pickup, I'm sure I would have been subjected to severe scrutiny.

 

People Sangkhlaburi

Children are brushing the verge in front of their school with straw brushes, like a little militarised unit. The Thais seem to be obsessed with brushing up leaves. Maybe it's meditative.

A group of orange clad monks, two white robed shaven headed nuns in tow. They move graciously and with dignity in public presence. When it gets dark I pass them on the second bridge smoking and browsing their phones.

Small boys diving from the flat bridge still in their khaki school shorts. The older ones are plunging from the 30m mon bridge.

In the market a woman with bad teeth chews on a cheroot and tries to sell me some sweets. I buy a bag of black rice from another mon woman, yellow ash daubs on her face.

At dusk a raft boat is towed out into the lake. Full of monks. Maybe going for a few days of peaceful meditation afloat on the water.

Two boys play a kind of cricket. Wickets a kind of tripod of twigs. The ball is a punctured yellow plastic one, the bad a stick. One of them is wearing a Man Utd shirt.

On the flat bridge a small group of Thais are dangling string with balls of bread in one of the gaps between the bamboo struts. Small children look on at their fishing.

In the dark on the bridge a teenager is listening to some western rock music on YouTube.

A policeman on a garishly lit Harley revs up illuminating the banana pancake man. His small daughter is standing on a box fingering the balls of dough.

I see women making handicrafts in doorways, whilst the men swing in hammocks.

Final day in kanchanaburi

Again I fail to get up early. My bed is hard and I'm groggy. A good sleep. I want to avoid the tourist crowd at erawan waterfalls, so having missed an early start, it makes sense to go there late in the day.

In the morning I ride out to a cave temple. You climb a flight of naga flanked steps to the mouth of the cave where the temple proper is. Then follow red arrows painted on the walls until you are on hands and knees crawling through spaces til you come to a vertical metal ladder. You climb about 3 metres through a tiny gap and then you are out on the top of the mountain looking over the river, kanchanaburi and the mountains beyond. This temple is famous for a floating meditating nun, but she's dead, and her replacement only does it when the crowds are there. So I don't see this!

Late morning is spent buying sweet fried things and iced coconut juice, which I snack on by the round pagodas next to the river. A boy of about 11 walks up and down the edge of the embankment and cheerfully says to me dee mai dee mai. He is catching fish using a plastic bag and is very pleased and proud of himself. I offer him a fried banana. He cautiously approaches, wais, then to my surprise he takes the whole bag. I'm too surprised to take bag at least a few,and anyway I think he will appreciate them. Off he goes then back, then off then back again this time beaming. He wants to show me his latest catch. In his bag is a large toad, dark green with a soft white belly, about 12 cm long. He takes it out for me to photograph. I ask him if he will eat it. He shakes his head. I wonder what he will do with it..

 

Final day in kanchanaburi

Again I fail to get up early. My bed is hard and I'm groggy. A good sleep. I want to avoid the tourist crowd at erawan waterfalls, so having missed an early start, it makes sense to go there late in the day.

In the morning I ride out to a cave temple. You climb a flight of naga flanked steps to the mouth of the cave where the temple proper is. Then follow red arrows painted on the walls until you are on hands and knees crawling through spaces til you come to a vertical metal ladder. You climb about 3 metres through a tiny gap and then you are out on the top of the mountain looking over the river, kanchanaburi and the mountains beyond. This temple is famous for a floating meditating nun, but she's dead, and her replacement only does it when the crowds are there. So I don't see this!

 

Late morning is spent buying sweet fried things and iced coconut juice, which I snack on by the round pagodas next to the river. A boy of about 11 walks up and down the edge of the embankment and cheerfully says to me dee mai dee mai. He is catching fish using a plastic bag and is very pleased and proud of himself. I offer him a fried banana. He cautiously approaches, wais, then to my surprise he takes the whole bag. I'm too surprised to take bag at least a few,and anyway I think he will appreciate them. Off he goes then back, then off then back again this time beaming. He wants to show me his latest catch. In his bag is a large toad, dark green with a soft white belly, about 12 cm long. He takes it out for me to photograph. I ask him if he will eat it. He shakes his head. I wonder what he will do with it..

 

 

 

Evening in Bangkok, first day

I chanced upon a keep fit and dance workout by the fort near the river at sunset. A hyper Thai instructor with a radio mic and all the steps. High energy techno covers of Kyle etc and housewives, grandmothers and a couple of strapping guys trying to keep the hectic pace in the humid evening.

 

I meet up with hon later. Confusion over which Burger King he is outside. We dither around until settling at a pavement bar which is less loud than some and get 2 beers for the price of one neither of us can sleep that night, and he decides to brave the night and get back home then rather than wait til morning. We negotiate a rather twisted post midnight khaosan road where everything is ratcheted up to the max and everybody is losing control. Same same only even worse. There are never going to be any buses at this time so he gets a cab, and I stay awake with jet lag for a few more hours!