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Maria and Gerry’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 04 Jul 2006

Location: Thailand

MapYesterday we had booked for a day trip to that well known bridge of the Burmah Railway fame so we got a 5.30 am wake up call and were waiting for the breakfast room to open.
At 6.30 we were collected and like yesterday were taken to central depot.Already the traffic was heavy..
There are 10 million people in Bangkok,2 million motor bikes,300000 taxis ones with four wheels.three wheels and even two wheels.To ease traffic problems there is the beginning of an underground and an elevated railway.
Bangkok and its slurbs seem to stretch enlessly interspersed with cultivation almost up to the our destination.
Our first stop was one of the three war cemeteries at the River Kwae,not as we know it Kwai.
It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and its the best cemetery we have ever seen,lawns immaculate and a plant between each headstone.We were taken to the grave of one of only two Kiwis buried there.The people buried there are mainly Dutch,English and Australian.
Across the road was The Death Museum all about the construction of that infamous railway that claimed so many lives not only Europeans but also Asians who tend to be forgotten.The irony is that the railway was of limited benefit to the Japanese.
We had a buffet lunch in a restaurant overlooking the bridge,a spicy repast followed by fresh fruit and tea.
Now on to the Tiger Temple a rehabilitation project for that very much endangered species run by Budhist monks and volunteers from all over the world who give their time in return for board and lodgings.The abott met us with one of the tigers in tow not on a leash.As we walked to The Canyon where we find more tigers each of us walked with the unfettered cat who allowed us to stroke it.
There were at least 8 or 9 tigers in a canyon,no fences,no cattle prods just the abbott quitly talking to the animals.
While the rest of us stayed behind a rope those who were game enough were taken by the hand and wondered among the relaxing animals who had obviously had a a good feed in the morning.Another attendant took photos to record the encounter for posterity.
Being a natural coward I forewent the pleasure but Maria was right into it.
Out last stop was "the bridge" and as we arrived a train which had left Bangkok early in the morning was trundling back across the bridge.We walked across to the other side.Realised at this stage that our digital camera was approaching its capacity so were a little more selective.
On the way back to our hotel traffic was so bad that it had taken us 30 minutes to move 500 meters.The tour guide suggested that as it would take us another hour to reach the hotel by road and if we did not mind a 10 min.walk he would escort us to the hotel as his apartment is in the vicinity.
No problem said we so off we went through very narrow alleys and streets,no shops but little factories open to the road making clothes,shoes,repairing motorbiles etd.As our tour guide told us the average tourist does not see this.We even bought some shusi from a Japanese street hawker.Our guide pointed out an over bridge which would take us direct to the hotels mezzanine floor.We were glad to get back into an air conditioned environment.
After a tidy up we repaired to the Gallery Bar for our complimentary drink then spent time in the Lobby Bar talking to a couple from Palmerston North.It had been a long,busy but fascinating day.