On the bus to Bangkok …
The last day at the beach tradition of catching the sunrise over the water continues here in Thailand. We’re up at 6a to see the sun come up over the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a little cloudy but we do see the sunrise.
After breakfast at the hotel I head over the the pool. At Hua Hin high tide covers the entire beach up to the sea wall, so people sit at the pool and walk down to get in the ocean instead of sitting on the beach.
As we wind down this trip it’s nice to have a relaxing day by the pool. After the hectic pace of the past couple of weeks it’s kind of like a vacation from the vacation.
A little after 3p we leave Hua Hin for the 4 hour bus ride back to Bangkok. I entertain myself by trying to get a good shot of a rice paddy, but end up with a lot of poorly timed shots of telephone poles.
This bus trip is really for first leg of our return trip home. We’ll stay tonight back at The Heritage Hotel Bangkok. Then tomorrow morning we fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong and then on to Boston.
From the Chomview Hotel in Hua Hin …
We check out of the Heritage Hotel Bangkok at 8a and board our bus bound for Hua Hin.
There’s lots of traffic on the way to the beaches in the south of Thailand. The rest stops are crowded with people getting in a quick weekend getaway. On the way we see salt farms, fields that are flooded with saltwater, then harvested after evaporation leaves salt behind. The geography changes as we move south, from the flatlands surrounding Bangkok to more mountainous areas along the Gulf of Thailand.
In a lot of ways this feels similar to a drive to the Outer Banks … the anticipation building as we get closer to the ocean. The new high rise condo buildings popping up along the shoreline remind me of Ocean City, Maryland.
After 3 hours on the road we stop to visit Khao Luang Cave to see the five golden Buddhas among the stalagmites and stalactites. Incense burns in the cave and creates a shaft of light that pours down from the cave entrance.
A community of monkeys live near the cave. Warning signs let us know to protect any items we have from being pilfered by curious monkeys. After we leave the cave there is an opportunity to stop and feed the monkeys. They are pretty cute and pretty well behaved.
We stop at a local mall for lunch around 12:30p. Mickey, Donna, and I opt for sushi and sake at Fuji Japanese Restaurant. An excellent choice! A fellow diner helped the three Americans with the correct way eat the noodles by pointing out the hidden sauce container with in the serving dish.
A hour later we check in at the Chomview Hotel in Hua Hin and start enjoying our weekend at the beach!
I walk a couple of miles down the beach to photograph some kiteboarders, then head back to the hotel for a swim.
Tonight’s dinner is at the hotel. Afterwards we’re visiting a night market in Hua Hin.
From the Skywalk of the Mahanakhon Tower …
We’re on the bus early this morning with a 6:30a departure to travel from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. Our run of leisurely 8a departures has come to an end!
We drive about 120 kilometers to the west of Bangkok and reach our destination at 9a. Kanchanaburi is the site of the bridge on the River Kwai where Allied prisoners of war were forced to build a railway bridge by their Japanese captors. The bridge was later destroyed by Allied bombers.
The first stop is a museum dedicated to the history of the construction of the bridge. Our itinerary calls this museum the Thailand-Burma Railway Center but the sign outside the building says Death Railway Museum. The Japanese used 61,000 Allied prisoners of war and over 200,000 Southeast Asian civilian forced laborers to build the 258 mile railway. Of those 12,000 POWs and 90,000 civilians died during construction of the rail line.
Across from the museum is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery where 7,000 of the prisoners are buried, relocated from jungle grave sites on the southern part of the railroad after the war.
Next we have an opportunity to walk across the now reconstructed River Kwai Bridge. Several minutes later the track is cleared, a train arrives, we board the train, and take the Bridge Over the River Kwai.
An hour later we arrive at Wang Pho and stop for lunch at Praweenut Restaurant where the bus has driven ahead to meet us.
Our last stop of the day is nearby at the Taweechai Elephant Camp, an elephant sanctuary that offers a chance to see these magnificent animals up close.
At 3p we board the bus for the return trip to Bangkok.
Whenever we are on the bus for an extended period of time there is a good AirDrop session that happens among the iPhone users. The Airdrop session is generally silent. Out of the blue Mickey sends a picture and the sharing session begins.
On the first day a seating arrangement develops on the bus and it remains for the entire trip – even as countries and vehicles change. Our Thailand bus sits around 40 passengers in 10 rows separated by an aisle. Since we’re only 20 everyone has a pair of seats to themselves which makes for a convenient place to put your daypack or camera bag. Brad sits in the front nearest the guide and Georgia is in the last row with Ron. I always sit toward the back of the bus. Most people want to be closer to the exit and someone needs to sit farther back, so why not me.
Also, although the roads here are better than in India, they are still bumpy enough that I can get almost a day’s worth of steps just riding in the bus! Today is one of those days.
Tonight is dinner on our own, so Mickey, Donna, Shannon, Peter, Greg, and me go to Little Home Bakery for some Pad Thai.
For an after dinner adventure we head up to the 78th floor Sky Walk at the top of Mahanakhon Tower. The Sky Walk is a glass floor with a view of Bangkok 314.2 meters down! We step out into the floor to take pictures. It’s terrifying and exhilarating!
Tomorrow we head to Hua Hin for a weekend at the beach.