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Kim’s Travel Diary

Monday, 19 Feb 2007

Location: Pattaya, Thailand

MapWell, at long last I have the time to sit and write a few words to go with all the pictures.

We left Bangkok after two days of shopping, looking and spending on a two day, one night trip to see the River Kwai, Tigers and Elephants. Having booked what we thought was a coach trip, you can imaging our suprise when a very new and smart BMW pulled up at the door and our guide arrived. It turned out that it was just the two if us and all for just over 100 sterling mark.

The trip from Bangkok was uneventful, just one traffic jam and then another but soon we were on the road towards the Eastern side of Thailand and the most famous bridge in the world.

The bridge over the River Kwiai was build after the Japanese had taken Malaysia and then bombed Pearl Harbour and stormed into Singapore. Somehow, they had to get supplies to Burma as soon as possible and hence the idea of a railway - not builders to do this but lots and lots of prisoners - guess who they used. The entire line was built through the jungle and at first things were not too bad but conditions worstened quickly and soon lives were being lost at a terrible rate. They say that for every sleeper laid, a life was lost. It is a place that still holds a stillness and memories for lots of people as many vets return each year to pay their respects.

Having seen the start of the line, a quick lunch was had and then onto the Tiger Sanctuary. As you will know from my pictures, this is regarded as a holy place and many people come to pay service to the animals and monks - as many as those who come to gawp.

At the start of the visist, strict instructions were given with regard to our behaviour with the animals - no or little talking, wear nothing red, do not dash in front etc, etc and guess what - some people deserve to be eaten!!.

It was an incrediable experience to be so close to these animals and to be able to touch them. They were very placid but you were aware that one false move was all they needed to change.

As the day drew one, so the temperature rose and we all decided that the hotel and a swim was a good idea. The River Kwia Resort is a truely family place with quad bikes, walks and pools and we arrived in the middle of a school outing..! The room was fantastic with a large balcony overlooking the river and a wonderful view of the river lodges that are used as guest rooms. Very spoilt and the beer tasted great. Dinner was a buffet affair in the open dining room - a mixture of german, english and thai food. A quick stroll arround the grounds and then a very undignified dash to the room as the buzzing in the air got louder and louder - thank god for deet!!

After breakfast, we left to see the elephants, about 40k from the hotel. What a treat this was, firstly the walk into their camp - all these creatures together as a herd and their Mahouts houses near by - man and animal working and living together.

We were the first to get on from the high platform. Elephants skin is very thick and covered in bristles, a bit like a worn paintbrush, all different lengths and colours and after the initial picture, off we lopped.

Elephants do not walk, they waddle, left to right to left and so on. It took a lilltle getting used to but was ok. The only problem was my legs were too long and getting in the way of the Mahout trying to steer. After a wander through the bush and a jungle hat being presented, it was time for the water entry. Downhill and you really had to hold on or be prepared to go swimming.

Robert, our Mahout decided at this point we could be left alone with the controls and jumped off!! - Elephants do not have steering and no brakes - and they can move!! - All makes for adventures!

After this, back to see the wooden bridge over the Kwia and a journey on the train, stoppoing for yet more food - any comments about sizes of elephants will only get the person concerned a thick ear!! and then back to Bangkok in the palacialness of an air conditioned car!!