21.01.2013 - 21.01.2013 34 °C
Today has been a busy day of sightseeing. We went for breakfast at our guest house and since the Thai food is half the price of western breakfast foods we decided to just pick something off the main menu. Chelsea had rice with a pork and vegetable omellet on top as that looked like the most breakfasty thing and Liam had spicy pork and rice and we both had a lemon iced tea. The restaurant in our guest house is built over the river so you get lovely quiet views over the water and raft houses. The only down side to the raft houses is that the walls are paper thin, you can literally hear with crystal clear clarity what next door are saying. At night it is ok as everyone is quite considerate and there are signs asking you to whisper but in the morining we were woken up at around 6am and then every ten minutes after until we got up.
We decided to rent bikes and there was a man with a few bicycles to rent right next to our guest house for 50 baht a day. We got our bycicles with the baskets on the front and set off to the Chung Kai war cemetery. It is 2km out of town but the ride is all flat and easy to navigate. When we arrived we were the only people there and it was very quiet and pristine. It is on the site of one of the Los POW camps and is the burial ground of more than 1750 men, many of whom aren't known. We had a walk around and were shocked at the sheer number of headstones. The grounds are immaculate and it is a very respectful place.
After we had looked around it was close to mid day and we were beyond warm so walked over the road to small cafe and had a cold drink. The lady was lovely and on our way home later that day she enthusiastically waved at us on our way past. From here we cycled another kilometre over the railway tracks and up a big hill to Wat Tham Khao Poon a cave temple. Our guide book described this as a series of interesting caves with some unique features. It is only 20 baht to get in and there was no one at the sight except us and a Thai couple. You go down the steps into the main cave where there is a large reclining Buddha and then keep going down through an intricate and terrifying labyrinth of caves and crevices. There were spiderwebs everywhere so Chelsea's reaction to the caves was not great. They keep on going down and getting smaller and darker as you go. Some of the gaps are quite small and Liam had to take the day rucksack off to fit through. One of the caves has a fig tree roots hanging down from the roof and others have limestone crystals and rock formations where it has eroded. When we got into another larger cave and a bat flew into Chelsea's face it was time to leave so we hurried out up the steps and into daylight.
From here we cycled back into town to visit some of the war museums. We cycled down to the JEATH museum which is 30 baht to get inside. JEATH stands for the six counties that were involved in the building of the death railway, Japan, England, America and Australia, Thailand and Holland but the small guide explains, 'the word JEATH also replaces the word death because it sounds too horrific' which made us laugh a little. The museum is terrible and we would urge anyone visiting Kanchanburi to avoid the JEATH museum. It is a bamboo hut made in the style of a prisoner of war hut with a procession of badly faded black and white pictures and drawings with ill thought out captions. it looked like they were doing some work on a second section but if you are interested in the history behind the war and the railway pay a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway and research centre as it surpasses the JEATH museum in every way.
This was our next stop and we parked up our bikes and got a ticket for the museum for 120 baht each. On the way we passed a man selling cakes and donuts from a motorbike with a covered sidecar, we couldn't resist so pulled up and bought a cupcake and a banana muffin. Opposite the museum is another war cemetery with even more graves all laid out in perfectly manicured lines. The railway museum is brilliant and well worth the entry fee and you get a free cup of tea or coffe inside. The museum takes you through the whole history of the death railway starting with the events of WWII and the occupation of Asia by Japan. It takes you through the planning of the railway from Thailand to Burma and how they transported the thousands of prisoners of war as well as forcing native Malay and Burmese to build it. It has original pieces of the railway as well as prisoners personal artefacts and is extremely informative and well laid out. It has lots of information on the treatment of the prisoners and the living conditions and has video interviews of prisoners as well as Japaneese military that we're involved. There is video footage of the building of it and lots of photographs that have been donated. We really enjoyed it and as it is a research centre they can do personal research into anyone who thinks they have a relative who was involved in the railway.
We had cycled around 10km today and it has been very hot. By the time we came out of the museum it was around half past four and the heat was still unrelenting so we decided to go back to the guesthouse. We have been told by the couple we met in Langkawi that there is a particular bank called Aeon in Thailand who do not charge 150 baht to withdraw from their ATMs. Unfortunately we have not come across any of these ATMs yet but we did research that there was one in Kanchanaburi. With this in mind after we got back Liam went out on the bike to search for the mystery ATM. He cycled to the other side of the town, and circled a particular block a few times where the ATM was supposedly located. No joy. We needed money so in the end we had to succumb to the charge. It really is starting to annoy us.
Once Liam was back we showered and went back out. The temperature over the last two days has dropped quite a bit a night which is refreshing. We walked down the main street until we came to a pizzeria, with a large wood fired pizza oven working overtime on the street. There was no dragging Chelsea away from that so we went in. We shared two pizzas, vegetable and salami, and they were both amazing, a welcome change from Thai cuisine even though we love it so much. The pizzas were significantly more expensive than Thai food but most definitely worth it and the crazy Italian making them was funny to watch.
From here we headed back to our new home from home, the 10 baht bar and had a few more drinks. After a while the two Canadian girls we met yesterday turned up and had a couple of drinks with us before we both left for our guesthouses.
Today has been a really good day; we were a bit alarmed by the cave temple, loved the Thailand-Burma Railway museum and moved by the War Cemetery. We are not sure what to do tomorrow, we either plan to visit Erawan Waterfalls, for some swimming and walking or Hellfire Pass, a section of the POW built Death Railway that is cut through the mountains. Which either one we choose we will do the other the day after.