6 – 9 February 2012
We left Bangkok and travelled up North for a brief stop at Bridge River Kwai.
Kanchanaburi, close to the Myanmar border is where you’ll find Bridge River Kwai. This “Death Railway” was constructed by the Japanese prisoners of war during WWII. It started in October 1942 and was completed in a year. The reason why the Japanese built the bridge was so that they could transport cargo to India which will support their attack. It was tough and many lost their lives.
After a short break, we headed to Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery or Tiger Temple (www.tigertemple.org).
There are many programs to choose from- group photos to morning programs to tiger feeding (1000 to 5000 baht). We were told by our tour guide to avoid wearing anything red or orange. Inside the enclosure, there were some 8 to 10 tigers – all of them were sleeping. The temple insisted that their calm nature is due to being handled by humans from a young age. Whatever they say, it is never easy to tame something wild. Yes, the idea of being so close to a tiger is an exciting one but you can never tame the wild especially a beast that should run free and not be always ‘asleep’ for visitors to hug and pat. The temple has always been under criticism from animal groups so I won’t be surprised if something fishy happened/s inside the premise. Wishful thinking: I hope that the ticket went towards conservation and not anything illegal.
The water market tour gave us an insight into village life and we stayed on the boat for an hour before running away to see the long-neck tribes.
I was told that the women stop with their neck ring once they turn 45. Neck lengthening was initially started for beauty before becoming a part of the tradition for the women in the tribe. The number of people who still continues today is fast declining.
Elephants are well-known here so the tour also included a stop at Chiang-Mai’s Maetang Elephant Park (089-7005595).
We went on an elephant ride before visiting various gardens and art stores to end another day of tour. Our Somporn Tour guide Mr Pon Shimshon (053 207071 or 08-19618203) drove us back to our guesthouse and we spotted something funny in his shopping bags.
“Baby dragonflies” said Pon ” Very good. We mix it with eggs.”
I wanted to try some so he gave me a Thai rice cracker and some bouncy babies.
On the last day, we went to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai. Privately owned, it is an art exhibitions in the form of a Buddhist temple.
The last major stop was to visit a place that is notorious for being one of the most dangerous places in the world for cargo ships since they are the target of drug lords and traffickers. SE Asia’s The Golden Triangle in the Mekong region is the place for narcotics production and trafficking (opium,heroin etc). The other one is the Golden Crescent in Iran/Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the past, Chinese crew members had been taken hostage by the pirates/ drug traffickers. Their boats are often used to transport drugs from Myanmar into Thailand. Some make it back alive but a while ago, 13 Chinese crew were killed. The Golden Buddha sits quietly along the dangerous water that is shared by three SE Asian countries.
Our boat jetted along the mouth of Ruak River that lies on the Thai-Myanmar border. It came to a halt, we disembarked and found ourselves in Laos.
After lunch and a short drive, we arrived at the Thai-Myanmar border. I watched as the Burmese made their way into Thailand and wondered when I’m able to visit mysterious Myanmar.
We ended the night with some Thai boxing and a nice dinner before the drive back to Bangkok.