|As hoped, we seem to be enjoying Thailand more the further we are from Bangkok. Our bus ride out of town took us along what seemed like an unending strip mall with shops of all descriptions from famous chain stores to tiny motorbike shops.
Our first small town stay was in a place called Apple Oasis. And it is an oasis of quiet on the River Kwai away from the urban bar-restaurant-massage scene just across the river.
Our Intrepid group includes Canadians, English, Aussies, an Italian, a Russian ex pat, and the Russian's American boyfriend. Our fellow passengers are amiable, patient, and easy to talk with.
Our leader, Rong, is a cheerful fellow from north Thailand. The son of rice farmers, he became a Buddhist novice monk at 18 to help his family economically, then left after three years to attend university. He has a great sense of humor. When we are all gathered and about to start a walk, bus ride, or other activity, he uses the phrase, "YABBA DABBA DOO!" My God, what American culture has done to the world.
Now of course we are following someone else's itinerary. In 36 hours: war cemetery and museum for the infamous River Kwai bridge; long ride to national park for a 5k walk along a series of cascades and pools; long ride back; dinner; morning transfer to houseboat; river float to high temple (700 steps to top, only 300 to main temple); second temple (only 250 steps to main temple, tram available); option to swim in river on the way back (same river the toilet flushes into); and so on.
Yabba dabba doo, indeed.