It is very difficult now for me to conjure up mental images of what I thought Thailand would like like before I first arrived here. It was back in 1992 when I first started thinking about Thailand. I was in Australia at the time and coming to the end of my one year work visa. (I say “work visa” but I don’t really want to give you the misconception that I was actually working. I had bought myself a station wagon and had spent the year on the road.) It was now time to fly home. I cannot remember exactly why, but I started playing with the idea of stopping over in Bangkok on the way home. I remember going to the local travel agents and flipping through brochures for Thailand. Some of the pictures that caught my attention weren’t of beaches. They were the green rice paddies. The picture above, that I took in Kanchanaburi, brought that memory flooding back today.
Something else that made me pick Thailand was the mention of a tour to the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. As a youth I had watched many old war movies and had especially liked this prisoner of war movie starring Alec Guiness. It seemed like a good idea to do a pilgrimage to the actual place where the story was conceived. I would have gone but the time and place turned out not to be right. It was May 1992 and a coup was at that time taking place in Bangkok. I decided to fly straight home to the UK.
I have now been to Kanchanaburi about four or five times. It might be true that the bridge itself doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but I always recommend people to go there for a long weekend. It is only about 2–3 hours away from Bangkok and the area is quite diversified. Anyway, another incentive to go there soon is that between November 24th and December 7th, Kanchanaburi will be hosting the annual light and sound show for the River Kwai Week. I remember going to see that years ago. If you are in Thailand during that period then I would recommend that you go to Kanchanaburi. To help make your trip a bit more worthwhile, I will give you some tips for places to see.
One of the more unusual attractions to be seen is the “floating nun” at Wat Tham Mongkon Thong. I was quite intrigued when I first heard about this lady. I couldn’t quite understand the attraction. But, it was worth a trip out to the temple just for the novelty. Inside the temple grounds there is an enclosure with a pool of water. The nun gets into the water wearing her white clothes and then proceeds to strike numerous poses of the Buddha. All the time she is spinning around so that everyone can get a good look. I guess the water is heavily salted in order for her to keep her balance, but I am not going to tell you it is an easy thing to do. The show was only about ten baht if I remember right and was certainly worth the effort. Inside the temple they also keep some elephants.