Alaska Team 2007 travel blog

Today we enjoyed breakfast in our hotel at 9:00am. Then we packed our bags, and loaded them into the van for our trip to Sangklaburi. We are getting to know our Thai van driver, PC, better. He is very funny, and also very helpful.

PC delivered us to the Kanchanaburi train station around 10:00am for our big adventure of riding the Death Railway Train. He then continued on with our bags to meet us at the end of the railway ride. This is a tourist train ride that crosses the River Kwai on the famous Bridge Over the River Kwai (now restored) that was bombed during World War II. It travels the same rail-system that was laid by the thousands of war prisoners that the Japanese forced into labor. Since the train travels the same route to our next destination of Sangklaburi, we took advantage of a tourist moment, accompanied by our friend, Sharon.

The train looked very old, and the cars were connected to the engine by hand (for which we had a moment of individual silent prayer). The seats were straight-backed hard wood with pillows on the seats, and all of the windows were open (no air-conditioning, and no fans). The clacking of the train wheels on the rail was very loud and rythmic, and the scenery was incredible. We would pass through spanses of beautiful green rice fields as large snow-white cranes flew over the fields. We saw herds of cattle (which looked like Brauma bulls) clustered near the tracks, as well as an occassional water-buffalo. At some points, the train seemed to hug the rocky hillside so it would not drop off the clif into the river on the opposite side. During the ride, we were served a box snack of cookies and water, and a refreshing cold washcloth to cool us down in the hot temperature. We even received a special gold-edged certificate as a memory of riding the train. We meandered through tall, rocky mountain ranges, and along the River Kwai for about two hours before we reached the end of the tracks.

We were met by our driver, PC, with a cool air-conditioned van ready for our arrival. Then we continued onto Sangklaburi by road. Along the way we made a couple of rest stops. Our first stop was at a beautiful, cascading, emerald green water fall. It spread out in a wide pattern and meandered over many rocks and logs while creating several pools. It was here that we observed two young boys having the time of their life swimming and diving into one of the deeper pools.

Our next stop was for lunch, and to our surprise, was at a restaurant right beside another waterfall. We were seated at log tables and benches outside near the streams and pools at the bottom of the falls, and feasted on grilled chicken and rice. We later explored the many stepping-stone walkways and bridges to reach the top of the falls. A man-made rock-bottom pool was being enjoyed by many, and rubber inner-tubes could be rented for a fun ride down the gentle slopes. The more adventerous climbers hiked up one more level of the rocks to stand under the roaring cascade of the tall waterfall. We did not have time for swimming today, but made plans to enjoy the falls on our way back to Kanchanaburi in a few days.

Around 5:00pm we arrived at the ministry home (known as the Family House) of Dodo, a friend of Sharon's. Dodo currently oversees four handicapped children with two care-takers housed in the Family Home. There is one little girl (about 8 years old) in a rudimentary wheel-chair, along with three boys who are all brothers. The two younger brothers (about 7 years old) are twins, and one of them is also in a wheel-chair. The other twin and older brother (about 13 years old) assist the two care-takers with the handicap residents. We spent some time with each child, and quickly gave away our hearts. We also gave them each a special rag doll hand-made and donated by ladies in Alaska (Rag Dolls 2 Love, Inc). The dolls were quite a hit, and will be greaty loved.

We soon discovered that Dodo is an incredible Karen lady! She speaks very good English, and told us all about the children. She works daily in a nearby refugee camp, and then visits the Family Home each evening to check on the children and caretakers or bring them any necessary supplies. We had purchased milk and noodles for the children (per Sharon's suggestion), and gave them to Dodo who was very appreciative.

After about an hour visit, we left the Family Home, and drove for about another 30-minutes. The road crossed over a bridge, and meandered up a hill around a huge lake of water dotted with docked, floating houses and fish-wheels (very much like those we see in Alaska). Sharon explained that these were the Mon people, and they made their living by fishing the lake.

We finally reached our destination for the evening, and our home for the next three days, in the village of Huay Mah Lai. Sharon introduced us to our hosts, Paw Lu Lu and her husband, Nandoe. We were greeted warmly, and taken through their large, wooden home to climb the ladder-like stairs to their upper-level guest-rooms. They had made every effort to make us welcome with three bedrooms equipped with Western-style beds, clean linens, pillows, and mattresses, as well as a private bathroom for the floor, and electric lights strung in each room. It was quite a surprise and a treat, as we were expecting more rustic accomadations!

We were treated to a fabulous meal of rice, vegetables, soup, and hot coffee. Then we attended the evening worship service (held in their home) with several others. A group of Bible school children sang songs to us and recited Bible verses IN FOUR LANGUAGES (Thai, Burmese, Karen, and English)! We were quite impressed! We were introduced, and Rick shared a short sermon. Then is was off to our rooms for a rest from our long, adventerous day!

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