Originally uploaded by roupiesontour
As the bus arrived in Bangkok early we got back to the hostel and slept. In the afternoon it was last minute shopping at MBK and the Suan Lim (?) night bazaar. It makes a nice change to be able to buy things as this is our last country but having got back to the room and seeing the number of bags we have now got I think we are going to have an issue packing!
The next day sees an early rise for me. I wanted to go and see the bridge over the River Kwai but funnily enough the kids did not seem that interested. The trip included the floating markets which meant a nice early start of 6.10, God I felt so tired. It felt strange to be on my lonesome but I soon got talking to people and it felt nice to just have yourself to worry about, I didn’t have to think about entertaining the kids. They went to the Oceanarium with my sister in one of the shopping malls. Complete with 4d cinema, glass bottomed boat ride they had a whale of a time (boom boom).
The floating markets were a tourist trap but I did enjoy the boat ride. There are stalls on either side of the dirty canal and some boats that go up and down selling souvenirs, fruit and other food. You pay 150 baht to be taken up and down by paddle boat and the sellers hook your boat so you can’t escape. I bought some lovely fried bananas with coconut but have seen enough souvenirs to last me a lifetime. A stop that was not on the itinerary (so of course cost extra) was the Cobra show. “Brave” men wind up cobras and other snakes by hitting them on the head and then dodging the bites. It’s a good chance to get very close up to some magnificent snakes but not very humane. The lowest point of the show was when a glass caged mongoose was wheeled in and several snakes were dropped into his cage so the audience could see how he managed to attack them. The snakes were then prized from his jaw – all you could wonder was do snakes feel pain and did the mongoose ever get fed, it was actually pretty horrific.
After much swapping around of minibuses we arrived at the Death Railway Bridge on the river Kwai. It is a very clam place and the river flows quickly under the bridge – does it sound silly to say the bridge is smaller than I thought it would be – the famous metal rounded arches not as tall. I walked across it with my dripping ice lolly and contemplated all the hardships and death that had happened here – it seems a world away. We claim to be a civilised world now but how quickly in war would we go back to treating our fellow man in such an appalling way. I guess you just have to look at places like Africa to see we never really change.
Last stop (right over on the Burmese border) was the Tiger Temple. The kids baulked at the idea of another temple when I suggested going on the trip. O had asked if there were real tigers there and I said no – probably just statues. How wrong could I be? Yes there are real tigers there, just rolling around in the canyon and you get to have your photo taken with about 6 of them. The monks that lived there helped nurse a tiger back to health and it just went from there. The tigers couldn’t care less that you were there – they were docile and you could tickle them and pat them until you chickened out. There was one large fella there – the size and weight of him were a real eye opener. He stretched upright against a tree to scratch his front paws and you could just imagine the weight of his front paws on your shoulders – you wouldn’t stand a chance. We had a very talkative group on the tour and we all had a fab time here – it was a little bit surreal. At 4 the tigers are walked back to their overnight accommodation (cages). The tourists are all caged in a huge pen with the tiger cubs while they pass the head monk make this “call” and all the other animals, now sensing that it is safe come to feed. It’s like Noah’s Ark – oxon, wild boar complete with piglets, chickens, horses and cows all descend from nowhere. It was an amazing sight and something to remember over the 3 hour journey home. As the minibus was full and there was no room for a guide the driver talked more. He earns 180 baht a day (£3), gets up at 4.30am and does not get home till gone 9 and works 7 days a week. It was a reality check that’s for sure and makes you wonder how they keep smiling. He also said that that the girls in Bangkok aren’t interested in local man – they only want farang boyfriends. I guess it’s no wonder with that and the view of old, fat lechy westerners in local bars who have come over for some “entertaining” we are unliked.
The sunset was fabulous and during the trip it really started to sink in that I am actually going home tomorrow – 1 day left. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. The daunting prospect of finding both a job and a home hangs heavy but the excitement of starting again brings me up and deep in my soul I just feel that everything is going to be OK. Ask me again in 6 weeks and I might not feel the same way!