Southeast Asia - Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand 2014 travel blog

Yes, these are the tracks so everything gets moved including the awnings.

Current bridge over the River Kwai

Once in a lifetime experience!

Our cabin at the Oriental Kwai Resort

Inside our room looking out. This is the garden view which is...

Looking from our cabin toward the river.

Just right for our deck!

This was part of a mural that was 30 feet long.

John writing:

Lois and I were tired of travelling so we were not really looking forward to this leg of our trip to the River Kwai. However, our guide Emmy was so upbeat and enthusiastic that our spirits were lifted as soon as she met us. Kanchanaburi (sounds just like it is spelled) was a three hour drive away so we settled into the comfy van.

The first stop was the “risky market”. It has that name because the market is literally built right on top of active train tracks! Six times a day, everything has to be moved so the train can get through. I know land is precious, but this market placement seems a little extreme.

A short distance from the risky market, we boarded a long tailed boat for a ride to the floating market. This floating market is different from others we had been to. Here vendors in boats sold to tourists on land, passing merchandise and money back and forth on a pole. You could also have your photo taken with a twelve foot python wrapped around your neck – we were not tempted. I bought some silver dollar sized coconut pancakes that were hot off the grill – delicious. They were served in a bowl made from a folded banana leaf. We boarded the van and drove for a short while where we stopped at a custom furniture factory that specialized in intricately carved giant teak furniture. Most of the pieces sold for tens of thousands of dollars (shipping included).

After the furniture factory we settled in for a good nap. We woke up just before Kanchanaburi where we had lunch at a floating restaurant on the River Kwai. The river is about twice the size of the Manistee River back home. Although I am not usually a fan of buffets, in this case it allowed us to sample a large assortment of dishes we wouldn’t normally try. My favorite was this baked item that looked a little like a small muffin. It was made from coconut and had the consistency of a pancake on the outside, and was gooey and sweet on the inside. After lunch we visited the war museum that talked about the conditions the prisoners of war labored under. This is all very familiar to Americans who have seen the movie, except that many more Thais died than Americans.

After the museum we walked around the market. The local safari park had a booth where for about $7 you could go into the pen with a pair of three week old leopard cubs. I couldn’t resist. First the guy sprays your hands and arms with alcohol, then you take off your shoes, go in and sit on the floor. I just sat there, let the cubs come to me and explore. It didn’t take more than a minute for them to crawl all over me. They especially enjoyed chewing on my toes which really tickled. I was laughing, and the cubs were obviously enjoying themselves so we drew a small crowd. Consequently the vendor let me stay in as long as I wanted. It was really fun.

After the romp with the leopard cubs, we drove to the Oriental Kwai Resort. I don’t know how Kelly Lu (from IndoChina Odyssey Tours) found this place because it isn’t on most booking sites. It is right on the banks of the Kwai River and it is exquisite – right out of a fairy book – see the photos. For what your get, it is reasonable (under $100/ night). It is 20 minutes from town so you have to eat in the resort’s restaurant. Not only is the food great, but it is cheap. Our dinner last night was less than $10 for the two of us! We ate on a terrace overlooking the Kwai River. The weather here is more pleasant than in Bangkok. It is not as humid, and there is a nice cool breeze. Sitting outside in the shade is very pleasant. Emmy says it is because we are feeling the winter wind.

You can’t beat Southeast Asia for value. Lois remarked this morning, that for a month we have not seen a frozen or canned vegetable or fruit. The beef is not good (too tough) as at home, but the pork and chicken are fine. The fish is great. When you are in the market, many of the fish are taking their last breath. When is the last time you bought a fish whose gills were moving? It is ironic, that in our society with modern refrigeration, the food we eat is not as fresh as in societies without refrigeration.

Many of you have heard me recommend IndoChina Odyssey Tours (IOT). Our trip was a combination of the Mekong River cruise planned by Road Scholar, the sea kayak tour that I set up with Paddle Asia and the rest planned by Kelly at IOT. Kelly has been reading our blog and saw that we had been sick, so she called me yesterday to see how we were doing! We are almost back to normal.

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