Monday, November 17, 2008

Kanchanaburi: The Wild Wild East

FINALLY, after the whole thai mafia gem scandal fiasco, we had one last day to do things right.  Sick of Bangkok (literally, we were getting sick. Val had a fever), we decided to go on a tour sold to us by our friend Urth to Kanchanaburi, a little place two hours away from the city.  

First stop on the tour was a little morose.


The next stop didn't get any better.  This is the the Bridge on the River Kwai.  Thousands of WW2 soldiers were help captive here and died building this bridge.  

I always wondered how one should pose when standing in front of a tragic monument or historical site.  It seems kind of strange to me that thousands of tourists smile at places (like this bridge) when historically, this was a place of deaths and sorrows.  But what can I say, I'm a tourist.  Until I can find a better expression for grim historical locations, cheese!

Below are some bikes that Japanese troops rode on while in Kanchanaburi.  I can't help but think that they're so cute!  They're super retro and easy on the eyes.  Now that I'm counting down to the days when I get home, I can't wait to start looking for a bike of my own. =)



Gruesome right?  I don't think this is a very family-friendly tour.


The bridge.

Next, we went elephant riding!  I was feeling bad for the elephants because they have to carry heavy ol' us on their backs all day long but then figured that we're kind of their livelihood. If tourists like us don't ride them, they probably won't get fed as well.  And we're not THAT heavy, are we?  I really wanted to get lifted by the trunk of the elephant but this was a place that didn't do that. Darn. Maybe next time.



After elephant riding came elephant feeding!  Poor Sara looks a little fearful of the hungry elephant.


In the afternoon, we frequented a very pretty waterfall.  Tons of Thais were vacationing, taking a dip in the pool and having picnics.  I miss picnics-haven't had one since Paris-picnic HK-style, anyone?



Haha, this baby sure knows how to live huh? She was knocked out in a crowded, hot, food vendor area.  

We also ventured into a tiger temple and petted some tigers!  

I don't know if pet is the correct word since the poor kittens were all drugged up and I was too scared that I merely stiffly placed my hand as far away from the tigers' mouths as I can.  The lady who was leading me to get my pictures taken took me to so many tigers!  I guess they don't want anyone complaining about any of the shots so they try to get you to take as many pictures as you can with as many tigers.  Which is good, but sometimes leads to photos like this...

and this...
I was so weirded out by the drugged up tigers!  

The trip ended with a train ride back to civilization.  

Thailand's beauty is abundant but sometimes you have to search a little harder to find it.

2 comments:

Jane said...

With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand: following repeated complaints from tourists and volunteers working at the temple about tigers being shockingly mistreated there, Care for the Wild International (CWI) undertook an intensive two year investigation. The resulting CWI report reveals illegal wildlife trade, animal cruelty, false conservation claims and visitor safety risks at the Temple.

You can read the report at: http://www.careforthewild.com/projects.asp?detail=true&I_ID=580&mypage=Reports


This issue has widespread media coverage:

CWI's press release - "Illegal tiger trade, cruelty and human health hazards at famous tourist destination":
http://www.careforthewild.com/files/tt_news_release%2020-06-08.pdf

"Black market tigers linked to Thai Temple, Reports says"
National Geographic News, 20 June 2008:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080620-tiger-temple.html

Jan said...

Oh wow "Jane," thank you so much for enlightening me of this fact. I was not aware of the cruelty these animals were subjected to before. I will have a new post up detailing this animal cruelty soon.