On my last day in Thailand I went on a very long bus trip to the River Kwai. We had a very interesting tour guide. He was a lad when the Death Railway was being built by prisoners of war from Australia and several other countries.
Our first stop was at the War Memorial and Cemetery near the River Kwai. The vast majority of soldiers buried here were from Australia. They died during the construction of what became known as the Death Railway. This was a very sombre experience. No-one in my family is buried here.
I was very impressed with the standard of upkeep of this cemetery. The lawns are immaculately kept, as are the gravestones.
You can read more about my time in Thailand by clicking on the archives link.
After the walk to the waterfall in the Khao Yai National Park, we continued our drive through the park to a lodge just off the main road. Here we had a wonderful traditional Thai lunch, complete with the fruit we had purchased at the market in the morning.
After lunch we went on a ride on an elephant through the rainforest. This was very relaxing and a good way to see the forest up close. An elephant’s back is not a great bird watching platform because it is continually lurching from side to side. Despite that I was able to identify a few species as we stumbled our way back to the bus.
After we visited the rice farm and that uncomfortable ride in a buffalo cart, we travelled up into the mountains to visit the beautiful Khao Yai National Park. As we drove through the rainforest we were on the lookout for various animals, like elephants and tigers. We didn’t see any but elephants had been walking on the road just a short while before us, as evidenced by the huge blobs of their droppings everywhere.
At one point we stopped at a little shop and picnic ground. After a short break we went for a long walk down the valley to a waterfall. The walk was very interesting but the waterfall wasn’t worth all the effort – especially the walk back out. The steep climb out was quite demanding. It was also quite still and humid and I was saturated by sweat by the time I arrived back at the bus.
I was quite disappointed by the lack of flowers and birds. I saw very few of either. I guess we were there at the wrong time of the year.
Okay – so the above photo is a bit dorky. I tried to take a shot of myself with the falls in the background. I managed to cut off half of my face. Oh well, never mind.
During my bus tour of eastern Thailand our guide had arranged for our bus to stop at a small farm. The farmer had kept several working buffaloes and we had a half hour cart ride through the rice fields on his farm. Even though there were some cushions to sit on, I found the experience very uncomfortable. The sun was hot and it was quite humid – I’d hate to be there when it was really humid during the summer. Besides, a jerking, lurching buffalo cart on farm tracks is not a good bird watching platform. I saw quite a few birds but couldn’t identify many of them.
After getting out of the cart at the end of the ride, I had very stiff legs because I am not used to sitting cross-legged for half an hour. It was very pleasant to get back into the air-conditioned bus with its moderately comfortable seats. Goodness, I’m a soft tourist!
To read my journal written at the time click here.
To see more images of my time in Thailand click here for my photo gallery.
On my second full day in Thailand last December I went on a full day bus tour to the Khao Yai National Park. This tour I had booked over the internet before leaving, not knowing for sure whether it would be worth doing. As it turned out the day was very interesting. I was able to see some of the rural parts of Thailand and various aspects to life in the smaller villages. One very interesting part was the visit to a rural market place in one of the villages.
The vibrant colours, the cramped conditions and amazing aromas of the food available to the local people was almost overwhelming. In a way it reminded me of the Adelaide Central Market, but with many different kinds of food available. I’ve never seen live frogs for sale in Adelaide, but then I may not have been looking too carefully.
Our guide was careful to explain the foods with which we were not familiar, and we were able to taste several different kinds of fruit for the first time. The guide bought some fruit to add to our lunch menu later in the day.
To read more about my experiences on that tour click here.
To view more images on my photo gallery click here.