During my first few months in Thailand, I took a trip to Kanchanaburi, a town in the west of Thailand and home to the Bridge on the River Kwai.
Erawan National Park
I went to Erawan National Park, which is absolutely beautiful. I trekked through the dense jungle and climbed up to the 7th tier of the waterfall. Erewan’s 7 tiered waterfall is one of the biggest and most beautiful in Thailand, and it is one of Thailand’s natural treasures. You may recognise it, even if you have never been there, because it is normally the one that is depicted on postcards that you can buy everywhere.
The trail through the jungle starts nice and flat, but then as it winds up into the mountains parts of it are quite steep and there are ladders to make the climbing easier. But the higher you go there are places where some scrambling over rocks and stream walking are required.
It was absolutely stunning and had never seen anything like it before.
As I climbed higher, I came across a checkpoint where I had to write my name and time of arrival in a big book. I guess, so the rangers knew who was in the park. We didn’t have to “sign out”, so I’m not sure how they would have known if we had left or not! I also paid a small charge of 10 baht for the plastic bottle I was carrying. This would be returned to you if you were still in possession of the bottle. A small way to stop people dropping litter in an ecological area and Thailand isn’t big on being Green!
Nearer the top, I started to walk up the middle of the waterfall. The rocks over which the water flowed were quite slippy, but I managed to tentatively creep my onwards and upwards.
There were less people this high up, most were happy to splash about in the lower pools or slide down the rocks, so the forest around me was eerily quiet – the only sounds were the chirping of birds and the rustle of the trees.
At the topmost tier, the water cascaded into the pool from above. I walked through the curtain of water into the empty cave behind, where I sat and gazed at my beautiful surroundings.
My peace was shattered when I felt something nibbling at my feet. I wasn’t sure if it was nibbling at first, then I realised it was and screamed out loud. The resident fish were feeling hungry! You pay for that kind of service anywhere else, but at Erewan you get it for free!
The Death Railway Museum
Kanchanaburi played an important part during World War II, and the soldiers who were stationed there built the Thai-Burma railway and the museum has all sorts of relics and reminders of the brutal way the prisoners got treated during the building of the railway.
The museum has loads of photographs, which actually made me almost burst into tears, showing the state of the undernourished men, and the conditions they had to work in. There was 6 gallery’s showing such things as the design and construction of the bridge, the geography of the railway, and life in the camps.
Over the road, is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, also known as the Don-Rak War Cemetery. This is the main war cemetery here and there are 6,982 POW’s buried here, mostly Australian, British and Dutch. Two of the graves contain the ashes of 300 men who were cremated, and there are names of 11 from India who are buried in Muslim cemeteries. All the graves are situated in an impeccably kept garden, and walking round you notice that most of the men that died were under 25 years old. A feeling of humbleness comes across you as you remember the suffering these soldiers had to tolerate during the war.