Friday, 9 January 2009

Kanchanaburi & Sangkhlaburi

We had a lovely few days away...not sure if they were particularly relaxing (We did a lot of travelling) but they were fab!!

We got the train from Bangkok Noi up to Kanchanaburi on Sunday.....I do love taking the train (You can read about the first time we took the train here) and arrived just in time to get checked in at our hotel and to have a beer whilst watching the sun set. It was stunning.... blue/purple mountains silouetted against a red and gold sky with the Bridge over the River Kwai outlined in black....what a view!!! Whilst we were sitting there we got chatting about what there is to see in the area and what we might do the following day (we're not the 'sit by the pool all day' type) and as we flicked through the guide book we realised that, besides a couple of waterfalls (we couldn't go there because the torn ligaments in my ankle have STILL not healed), we had seen everying that was recommended. So we had a look at what there was to visit slightly further away and came across a page about a small town called Sangkhlaburi which we had actually talked about visiting before. It's off the beaten track so not something we would do when back here on a holiday so we decided 'what the hell'. The following morning we were up bright and early and headed over to Kanchanaburi bus station were we discovered that we could jump on a mini bus up to Sangkhlaburi for the grand total of 175 baht (£3.30). I am so glad we was an amazing place!!

When travellers dream of Thailand, they picture verdant jungles, sparkling temples and the exotic charm of its rural villages.....Sangkhlaburi is home to all this. It's only about 25km from the Burmese border and is really quiet secluded...but boy is it worth a visit (the views as we drove along were stunning). There are two really fasinating things about the place.....the first is that it is home to the largest handmade wooden bridge in the world built by the Mon people in the area (The Mon, like The Karen Hilltribe, are an ethnic group originally from Burma who have been displaced due to years of fighting and unrest. They were one of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia and were responsible for the spread of Theravada buddhism in present day Burma and Thailand) and the second is that the original town has been completely submerged in water.

We stayed in a basic but lovely little guest house called The Burmese Inn which had a fantastic view over the reservoir and the Bridge. We checked in, booked a boat tour of the reservoir just before sunset and headed off to have a look at the bridge. Just look at this.....isn't it absolutely beautiful!!! I have never seen anything like it and I was just blown away that the entire thing was built by hand with no help from engineers or anything (actually when you looked at it from a certain angle it did make me think of the game Kerplunk but I tried to put that out my mind when we were walking over it!!). Having had a meander across the bridge we then got on our wee boat and went for a trip over the water and again, I have never seen anything like it!! As we neared the middle of the reservoir we saw the top of a temple sticking out the water!! You know I said that the original village was suberged well, depending on the season and the water level, you can still see some of the original buildings. It was amazing scooting across the water and watching as the top spire of the temple came into view and we got some fab photo's of the buildings with their reflections....eerie but beautiful!!

The following day we got up early to make sure that we had enough time to visit the Mon village across the bridge before travelling back to Kanchanaburi. I'm not a morning person (I know you are all gasping in disbelief!!) but was very glad we made the effort as we were in time to catch the early morning mist over the bridge.....if I thought the place was magical before it was nothing compaired to seeing it shrouded in soft grey mist!! We crossed over the bridge and then got a motorcycle taxi to take us to the two Mon temples on the island. Chris was slightly gutted as he thought he had successfully managed to avoid ever having to go on luck!!! The first temple was very like the Thai ones although they were doing some restoration work to one part of it and we managed to get this lovely shot....illustrates Thai Health and Safety rather beautifully!!! The second temple was stunning....a real mixture of Thai, Burmese and Indian influences and made me think of egyptian pyramids.....Chris got this stunning shot of one of the small Buddhas (I think we will get it blown up and framed once we're back in the UK...I love it!!). All too soon it was time for us to head back to Kanchanaburi where we spent the night and then it was back to Bangkok. A lot of travelling in just a few days but completely worth it!!


Hullaballoo said...

How truly magical, wow, I am gobsmacked. What an enriching and creative way to spend your last few days in Thailand. The kerplunk bridge looks amazing.


Blu said...

Enjoyed that a lot. I always find that there is something very sad when a village is lost under the water all those memories.

Debs said...

What a magnificent country, I really should go there sometime. Thanks for the post and the beautiful photos.

Lane said...

Absolutely lovely. What a trip.

That bridge is stunning!

SueG said...

I love trains rides, too. And I love the way you're savoring every last drop of Thailand before the big move. Thanks for all the photos. xo

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic place to have fresh in your mind just before you come back.
Hope the contrast between the magical mist over the kerplunk bridge, and our drizzle isn't too awful.

Love, Mum xx

French Fancy said...

That gold temple sticking up makes for such an unusual photo, Carol. I'm sure I am not going to be the only one who will miss your original pictures and stories.

I wouldn't have liked walking over that bridge, I've got a vividly fearful imagination.


Tam said...

Amazing pictures, as always. I'm glad you have such a lovely trip to remember Thailand by. Swindon has a lot to live up to :-)

DJ Kirkby said...

OMG, OMG, OMG! England is just going to look so dull to you when you come home... Hope your ankle heals soon.

French Fancy said...

Are you in transit yet? If you've not gone I want to wish you the best of everything with your journey. If you've gone and are viewing this whilst back in the UK, well done! You did it - terra firma.


Carol said...

Hulla - It was a great trip...Chris and I were really glad that we made the effort to go.

Blu - I felt a bit like that was sad but magical at the same time.

Debs - You would love it!!

Lane - It was just just had to kind of ignore the kerplunk stuff holding it up as you walked across it :-)

Sue - There is something lovely about travelling by train...especially when people bring cold beer round :-)

Mum - It was tiring but we thought the place was stunning...yes, the drizzle is a bit of a shock to the system

French Fancy - I'm sure we will manage to come up with suitably random photo's here...Chris has a talent for spotting these things :-)

I have a vivid imagination too...I think that bridge will probably make an appearance in a drawing!!

Tam - It certainly does but I'm sure we're going to have fun exploring our new environment.

DJ - I'm sure we can find some suitably weird places to visit here :-)

French Fancy - Awww, thanks hon. We're now here and in the process of trying to get settled :-)

C x

Anonymous said...

I found some comprehensive information on Internet Guide to Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

Carol said...

Anon - Thanks for pointing me in that direction.


expatudon08 said...

nice blog and some great photo.s myself and the wife have a blog on udon thani and a website also it keeps us connected with issan when where in the uk
regards john and noi

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