A Travellerspoint blog

Monday 7th April - Day 64

Vanishing time

As I fly east and the time zone changes I 'lose' time. The plane flew out of Bangkok airport at about 8:00am. I arrive in Brisbane, Australia at 11:45 pm.

Everyone says, "how ya going, mate ?" I should have taken Australian language lessons because I'm not sure what the reply should be. Perhaps it should be "Bonza, mate." Normally, I just say, "fine thank you. How are you ?"

I take a bus to the hostel I'm to saty at. There's a note on the door in an envelope explaining that I should go around the back and that my room key is in the plant pot. It's 12:30 am and very quiet.

It's the first time I've stayed at a hostel and it seems quite basic and functional. In my room there's a bed, small fridge, sink, chair, a little cupboard and a bin. It's clean enough, so no problem. I'm wide awake and not ready to go to sleep yet. About twenty minutes later I hear a couple of guys walk into the kitchen and go out to meet them. They're a couple of students from India who are studying at the university. I'm little hungry and they offer me some noodles to eat. I go to bed soon after. It's a while before I can sleep.

Posted by rajchopra 06:49 Comments (1)

Sunday 6th April - Day 63

Tiger on the loose

The van comes to pick me up at 6:30am. A little bit early for me again. There are a few things to visit today.

First we visit a World War II cemetery. We spend a little time walking around reading the headstones. A lot of brave young soldiers died in the war and some of the grave stones have names of soldiers from Suffolk Regiments. Next we are taken to a war museum. I already knew that prisoners of war under the Japanese had a very tough time, but the newspaper articles, photos, pictures and paintings in the museum graphically showed how bad things were.

We now head up to the river Kwai, made famous from the film, 'Bridge Over The River Kwai.' The guide persuades three of us to take motor boat over the river to it, while the rest will travel there by van. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," he says. It's raining a little. If he meant it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get soaking wet, because that's what happened, he was wrong. As the boat sped along a light spray of rain meant I got very wet and cold afterwards. Ironically, it was quite refreshing at the time and, if truth be told, I quite enjoyed it. However, we didn't see anything from the boat of significance. Once at the bridge we are allowed to walk over it. There are no trains or vehicles that pass over it. Having seen the film made it feel more interesting than it might otherwise have been.

Next we are off to a railway station and a ride in a train. At the railway station I bump into Sarah, Carol and Elke the University students from the jungle trek. We enjoy a brief chat like old friends and part company again. The train journey itself didn't seem to have much to write home about. But we do stop at a station and have a nice lunch at a restaurant as part of the excursion.

After lunch we visit 'The Tiger Temple' where tigers that have been bought up by monks since birth are there. We're led individually by volunteers, who hold our hands, to the tigers and are allowed to touch them and have photos taken with them. It wasn't as exciting as I imagined, but it was an experience to remember. Then it's back "home."

Sadly it's my last day in Thailand. The time has gone rather quickly.

Posted by rajchopra 08:36 Comments (0)

Saturday 5th April - Day 62

Back To Bangkok

I'm back here by late afternoon, but it will soon be time to leave the country, leaving from Bangkok airport.

Last night I went out in Chiang Mai and bought a bigger rucksack. It was a mistake to buy one in England that was less than 70 litres - I know now. I even negotiated a fare with a taxi driver to take me to the airport saving me a third the money the hotel wanted to charge me via the hotel's service. At Chiang Mai airport I booked my hotel for Bangkok through a Rep. He assured me it was cheaper to do it this way. I thought I would go for a higher standard hotel room for my last visit.

As it turned out, it although I got the room 30% cheaper than anyone walking off the street would have done, their prices are inflated anyway. It's "gaining with one hand and losing on the other."

From Bangkok airport I catch a local bus to get me to the skytrain (mono rail) station. I'm pleased I did this. I seem to be the only non-Thai on the bus, and the conductor doesn't speak any English.

The skytrain is another new mode of transport for me. It's cheap and efficient.

I'm staying near Siam square the modern shopping complex. I have some food there from street vendors and visit the imax cinema to watch a 3D movie called 'Sea Monsters.' The special effects are quite good, once you get use to wearing the glasses, but the American commentary isn't that good.

I also visit a travel agent and book an excursion for tomorrow.

Posted by rajchopra 01:48 Comments (0)

Friday 4th April - Day 61

Flight of the Gibbon

This has nothing to do with monkeys of any kind. It's a day trip to a forest with very tall trees. We wear a climbing harness and fly from tree to tree on what's called a zip line. This is a thin heavy duty steel cable. We attach a cable, that has a pulley at the end of it, from our harness to the main cable and slide, at speed, through the air as though sitting in a chair while dangling from the cable. It is all extremely safe thanks to the professional guides helping us. However, when you are a hundred foot in the air with nothing under your feet it can be a little scarey. For a fearless person, you would gently hold onto your cable and let the pulley do the work. For someone who is afraid of heights it's probably a non starter. But if you dare, there's a tendency to want to want pull yourself up towards the cable while your sliding along.

At the end of the first run I felt as though I had just been arm wrestlling an adult gorilla never mind a gibbon! There are about ten slides to do and you get to abseil down twice. An eight year old girl in our group puts the rest of us seven adults to shame. While we're gathering ourselves for the next slide, she's wanting to get to the front of the queue so she can go first.

Later we have lunch and are then we're taken to a waterfall. This one is one waterfall, but is in about seven stages. There are small drops of about thirty feet or so to little pools. A staircase has been cut into the side of the hill to allow you to climb near the top. It's quite steep so it's a bit of an effort getting to the top.

This is one more thing to which I can say: seen it, done it, got the t-shirt.

P.S. Thanks for the comments on the blog, but please remember to email me on my yahoo address or leave your email address in the comment so that I can reply to you individually.

Posted by rajchopra 20:36 Comments (0)

Thursday 3rd April - Day 60

It can't be morning already ?

I'm woken up early in the morning by the mad crowing (or whatever the hell you call it ) of a cockrell. What's more there's two of them in the village. First one calls out and the other one echoes it a few seconds later. I take a look at my watch - it's 3:26 in the morning. If I had a shotgun to hand there would have been two gun blasts at 3:30am and barbecued chicken for breakfast.

At about 7:00 am I get up and take a bath, which is a trip out into the river with my soap and shampoo. I'm feeling quite good after that. Breakfast at 8:00am is tea, toast with jam and fried eggs. That's better than what I normally have at home.

Next we're going on an elephant ride. This is a hairy experience particularly for two of us who have to ride on an elephants neck. The others sit on wooden seats on the back of the elephants. We went up and down steep banks and accoss streams for about an hour and a half. A few times, when the elephant turned it's head, I could feel myself slipping off. That would have been an interesting accident insurance form to fill in. We finally get to our next destination after following a memorable journey.

Now we have to get on bamboo rafts and travel down river. From the photos I had seen previouslyI didn't think this would be particularly testing. It turned out to be quite eventful. We had poles that were used to manoever the raft down stream, missing rocks and guide us over small rapids. I had a few blisters on my hands afterwards. There were three rafts and at some stage of the journey we had all fallen out. After two hours we got to our final destination, a restaurant.

Again we have a nice meal. There's a great sense of comaradery now. I was on the raft with the three German girls and we're all friends now. Everyone agrees it was been a really enjoyable experience over these last two days. It's definitely one of the best things I've done. The only sad part is it's over and we all have to split up as we have different itinerarys.

We're driven back and dropped off at our different hotels.

Posted by rajchopra 07:14 Comments (1)

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