23.01.2013 - 23.01.2013 36 °C
Last night on the way home to our guesthouse Chelsea spotted an advertisement for volunteers at a safari park, 25km from where we currently are. She emailed the contact and immediately got a reply asking for more information regarding our work history to see if they had any relevant jobs for us to help with. After a few emails we were asked if we wanted to teach English to some of the staff there, as well as the neighbouring village. This includes the elephant trainers who will apparently teach us to train elephants in return. From the information we have been given so far it sounds great, we wanted to volunteer at some point along our trip to try something new and getting experience teaching English as a foreign language could open up to lots of opportunities for us along the rest of our trip. The safari park is located near Bo Phloi, approximately north east of Kanchanaburi and is not really on the tourist trail so we hope to see some more authentic Thailand.
We got up early this morning as we wanted to go to Hellfire pass, around 80km from here. We were tired as after we had agreed to the teaching reality hit us that we had no idea how to teach and where to begin so we frantically googled tips and help into the early hours. We had breakfast at or guesthouse again, and caught a taxi to the bus station.
The buses in Thailand are not as good as the buses in Malaysia. The bus we caught today had bench seats and anyone taller than 4 feet would have been cramped. The walls were just metal so it became to resemble an oven in the midday heat and the three fans that were inside only worked when the bus stopped. This particular bus has a 250km route, we only did 80, took about an hour and half and we could not bear it. We do not know how the people doing the full journey cope.
The bus driver told us when our stop was due and it was a good job. It was an entrance to a field with a security booth and a tiny sign stating Hellfire Pass. We would have totally missed it. We walked through the entrance along a road passed a field with cows and ostrich until we came to the car park where the Hellfire Pass museum is based. The museum is good, it is similar to the Thailand- Burma Railway museum we visited a couple of days ago so we had seen a lot of the information already, but it had relics and possessions of the POWs and scale models of this particular section of track.
Behind the museum, down a steep hill is where the railway track used to run. It is a 4km hike in a horse shoe shape around the valley. We did around a third as the ground is entirely stones and we had flip flops on, our guide books did not tell us about this and we would say that a good pair of shoes is the most vital thing you need when visiting.
It was amazing to walk along the site of the old track, in some place the original sleepers remained. After about 500m we came to the section named Hellfire Pass. It is a huge carving through the centre of a rocky hill. It was unbelievable to think they did it entirely by hand. There are more of the sleepers running through the middle and even some broken hand drill parts still in the walls. It is called Hellfire Pass as from above when it was been carved the fire’s the POW light to work by looked like Hellfire.
We carried on for a while along the track, passed a section where small bridges used to stand; you can still see some of the foundations for the wood, and onto lookout point. The view was incredible, there is a sign stating that if you had stood here when the line was being built you would have been able to see all the construction along the valley. When we were looking it was so hot, the view of the mountains was hazy, they appeared like mirages.
It was not long before the heat and our feet got the better off us and we turned back. The walk back was really difficult as we went a different way for a bird’s eye view of Hellfire Pass. This involved a lot of steep stairs, had we known how way we would have walked back the way we came. We went back in to museum to cool off in the air-con and buy more water before setting off back to the main road to catch the bus. Luckily one appeared within two minutes of us getting to the stop, on the flip side, it was even more cramped than the previous one we caught and equally as hot.
By the time we got back to our guesthouse we were shattered. We relaxed a while before going out for dinner. We didn’t have the energy to walk far so we visited a place nearby that claims to be one of the best in town. Chelsea had a burger, Liam a Thai curry and they were both delicious. Afterwards we went back to our 10 baht bar as it is our last night in Kanchanaburi.
We head to the safari park tomorrow where we will see the person currently teaching English who we are hoping will give us some advice and let us know the current level of the students. We are both a bit nervous and don’t really know what to expect but it will be an experience and something a bit different compared to what we have been doing the last two months.