This is a consolidated post for the 2 trips to Kanchanaburi, Thailand during my National Service stint in 1998. I concluded that it was the year for the French, for them to lift their first World Cup by thrashing mighty Brazil 3-0 in the finals – one bewildered result. That period also happened to be the golden era for film cameras with Kodak and Fujifilm battling out to be king of the hill. Remember those cheesy ‘Kodak moment’ ads? Gosh, that was donkey years ago!
Looking back, the trip to Kanchanaburi was anything but a proper holiday. Everything from departure to arrival sucked, it was after all a military training trip. But the excitement of the plane taking flight was unforgettable and good enough for my first air travel. More so when it’s free..haha.
Please pardon the image quality of the scanned photos. And yes, they were taken with a film camera.
Floating Market near Kanchanaburi
The training trip lasted for around 2 weeks. The actual fun started during the last 2 days where we were brought around Kanchanaburi for a cultural tour. In NS terminology, it’s known as R&R (Rest & Relax?).
The first stop was the Floating Market (Damnoen Saduak Floating Market?). The floating market is one amazing place and everybody should visit at least once to experience its liveliness. The vendors on the small rowing boats sell fresh fruits, vegetables and local Thai food and other stuff. A couple of us hired a boat to cruise along the bustling canal for an hour.
I remember buying food from one of the vendors but cannot recall exactly what I ate.
The disturbing part was when I saw food vendors washing the plates with the not-so-clean canal water! Luckily, I did not experience any tummy ache after which.
Death Railway Kanchanaburi
We were then brought to the most well-known Death Railway (River Kwai Bridge) in Kanchanaburi.
The iconic black iron bridge spanning across River Kwai is part of the notorious Death Railway with tracks running from Burma (Myanmar) to Thailand. I have read quite a bit of History on how this railway had gotten its name and the story behind it. But I am not going to bore you with History lessons, though. There is Death Railway Museum for those wanting to learn more.
While strolling along the bridge tracks, we noticed there are quite a number of side steps on both sides of the bridge. Totally clueless about the purpose of those steps until we saw a train approaching! We were ignorant that the train and track are still in operation!
Only then we realized that side steps are there to provide standing spaces when the train crosses the bridge.
Wat Tham Khao Noi in Kanchanaburi
Next stop was Wat Tham Khao Noi. A temple built on a hill which required us to climb a long flight of stairs. The temple, pagoda, and the Buddha were magnificent up close in their golden glory. Plus, the panoramic view at the top of the hill was fantastic! Looking at the photos make me want to revisit this place again.
Bus from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
There are buses departing daily from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal in a 15-30mins interval. The journey will typically take around 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic condition. One way ticket price for an air-conditioned bus is around 95 THB and the last bus will leave around 10.00pm. Do plan a day trip to visit this old world charm when you are in Bangkok.