Bangkok: Wednesday 5th March 2008

We flew into Bangkok International Airport again, 3rd time on this South East Asia trip, though this time we would actually leave the airport!

The usual out of the plane then onto a bus and driving around half of the airport saw us eventually at the customs gate which we passed through to meet up with our ride to the city. The trip to our hotel Pathumwan Princess seemed to take forever passing through the early evening of a huge Bangkok.

We checked into the hotel and tested the view from our 27th floor room window before venturing out into MBK to find somewhere to get dinner. We found the food court at the far end of the mall, and collected our plastic food credit card and proceeded to wander amongst the many food stalls. Eventually deciding on a shop selling soups, I picked up a duck wanton soup which I think didn’t agree with me. I’d eaten from street vendors in Myanmar and market stalls in Lao only to be stricken down by a food court in Bangkok! It left me a bit tender and under the weather for the rest of the Bangkok trip.

We wandered around MBK a little more then retired for the evening.

Bangkok: Thursday 6th March 2008

Today we just wandered around MBK. We had the best buffet breakfast at this hotel, but I wasn’t feeling the best, so took it easy. A few times during the day I broke out into a pouring sweat which had nothing to do with the heat, as the arcade was fully airconditioned. I was disappointed with the prices of electrical goods; iPods costing the same as they were back in Australia, and similar with phones. I wasn’t feeling well enough to venture to the IT Centre so we stocked up on clothes. The day was pretty much just spent shopping, sorting out and confirming our day trip tomorrow or sleeping the afternoon off in the hotel room. We ventured back into MBK later in the evening for dinner, but I don’t think I ate much if anything, though there was a nice café at the hotel lobby where I managed to have a coffee and some really nice icecream.

River Kwai: Friday 7th March 2008

We joined our bus outside the hotel for our River Kwai trip at about 7:00am, enough time for a quick breakfast in the buffet. Out trip was with four other people, all from Queensland and they’d just been to Phuket and were stopping in Bangkok on their way back home.

As we waited outside a hotel to pick up the last two traveller’s we watched people heading off to work, stopping at a roadside kitchen to pick up their breakfast. Bangkok is huge and I can’t remember when we exactly had left the city and were in the rural areas of Thailand. We passed huge trucks bringing in sugar cane to sugar factories and stopped at a petrol station for a rest on the way up. I went to the toilet, observing a sign indicating if you were urinating, then head to the left. This took me outside the toilet, where the urinal was on the external wall!

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I bought some strange flavoured chips and drinks and we continued our journey, stopping at the war cemetery of Kanchanaburi (Don Rak) This held nearly 7,000 prisoners of war who perished whilst constructing the Thai-Burma ”Death Railway”. It was a very moving and sad place. Nearby was the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, which housed many interesting and informative displays on the construction and life (and death) of the Thai-Burma railway.

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From the cemetary it was a short trip to the River Kwai Bridge, which is a lot smaller than I’d imagined. We were originally booked to take the train for a trip along the railway, but we were given the option of spending more time at the Tiger Temple which we all agreed on.

We spent ages walking on the bridge, and watched as the train left the station, crossing the bridge and forcing all of the tourists onto small platforms on the bridge edge.

Lunch wasn’t particularly nice, being at a nearby restaurant. I think one of the dishes and or the iced coffee set me off feeling crook again.

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Next was the Tiger Temple! The highlight of our short stop in Thailand.

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This was a great place to visit and a very memorable experience.

The monastery became a tiger sanctuary by accident when a baby tiger was dropped off, having lost its mother to poachers. The monks had no idea how to look after the tiger, but through trial and error eventually brought the cub back to life, though I believed it passed away some time later. The temple though soon had more tiger cubs given into its care, and now there are dozens of tigers living peacefully here. We patted many little cubs as well as walking full grown tigers, and sitting with the tigers patting and holding them. The tigers are very placid, having a full tummy and ready for their afternoon nap so didn’t mind being held and patted by the tourists.

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I had originally planned to visit Pat Pong or some other markets in the evening, but I was feeling not well at all so we had a quick explore of some more of MBK then went to bed.

Home: Saturday 8th March 2008

Our airport departure was too early for breakfast, and though we got a packed breakfast from the hotel, I was in no mood for eating. Thankfully, the trip to the airport only took 30 minutes, quite a feat and I didn’t care what speed the driver was going. The queue through customs took forever but I made it through and we were able to relax in the airport for a while before we made out way to the departure gate. I slept a lot on the plane, skipping breakfast. Lunch was very light and I only picked at dinner. I watched Devil Wears Prada, but pretty much slept the rest of the 9 hour flight. Getting through customs at Melbourne was dreadful. It took about 30 minutes after we got off the plane for our baggage to appear, then another hour or more to clear customs. I think 5 planes all landed at once. Anyway it was good to get home and see our two boys who had BOTH had their hair tipped! What a surprise!