Train across the bridge

Kanchanaburi station to Wang Po return… across river Kwai and Death Valley viaduct. Thought I was in for a treat when I saw the train waiting on the platform….

Turned out to be the local version of the Orient Express heading for Singapore…mine was revealed behind it when it pulled away… a very special car though and at 100thb or £2.50 a snip!

Over the river Kwai.

On to the Wang Po viaduct. Route went through flat fields of rice, cassava plants, banana, sugar cane and palm trees; but also through steep sided cuttings in the hills by the riverside. How hard must it have been for the POW’s to cut down trees, bludgeon there way through solid rock and lay all the track required…

Left train at Wang Po station to wait for it to go on to Nam Tok, turnaround and pick me up for journey back to Kanchanaburi. Wang Po a small half a horse sort of village but with cold beer so a good stop!

Deep thoughts and fried insects..

Began today at the Death Railway Museum

I guess most people know of the various films about this dark episode during WW2, but like the holocaust museum near Jerusalem it only really hits home when you see at first hand. Never ceases to amaze me how brutal mankind can be and how resilient the oppressed have to be. Really well done museum situated across the road from one of the many war cemeteries dotted along the railway route. The youngest victim I saw was only 19…

On to the actual bridge, by bike, which I think must have dated from WW2 or was an ex trick cycle for a clown; definitely had a life of its own! Fortunately, not too many people crowding around so good opportunity to cross it and see the views across the river. Didn’t hear the whistling of the Colonel Bogey March though….which is not surprising really as the 1957 film was made in Sri Lanka!

Dinner in local night market… of course when in Rome etc…so saw some fried insects and had to try them… Not going to make a habit of it though…

Day 3

Cultural overload day 3 in Bangkok. Began with the Bangkok art and cultural centre, via BTS metro.

Impressive building and good displays of assorted arty stuff. Suitably educated moved on to Jim Thompson’s house / museum

This is an impressive array of wooden buildings transported from across Thailand to Bangkok and rebuilt as Jim Thompson’s home and workshops. An American expat who settled in Bangkok post WW2 and established the Thai silk trade until he disappeared on a trek in the Malaysian mountains in 1959. Aged 61….hmmm better watch out…

Then on to Chinatown. Vibrant street food market – see web site link…

Found one with a queue and tables which is a bit of a treat, and Michelin recommended…apparently, so had to try. No menu and no menu needed as only two choices a sort of pork soup either large (the special) or normal… Really surprisingly good!

Bangkok is a real mix , more so than common perceptions I guess. Surprisingly organised with good transport options…when not delayed, although it can take an eternity to travel short distances. It’s the Asian Venice with many canals and boat taxi options although the speed limit is somewhat different to on the Leeds-Liverpool for sure…Best option is to take the Tuk Tuk and close your eyes…


36 hours later and in a small Hotel in Bangkok.

There are two types of getting from A to B, the enjoyable version or the downright arduous ….beam me up scotty please…version…

This ‘beginning‘ was the latter version…. Sector 1 was early morning in mid winter up t’north on a remote unsheltered railway station awaiting a significantly delayed Trans Pennines special… does one wear thick coats, gloves, hats etc when embarking on an essentially sub-tropical one month trip with just a backpack? No…so timely starts would have been appreciated, but alas was not to be. Why Dewsbury escaped Mr Beeching I do not know….

The direct train, when it finally whimpered from the platform decided it was too much to drag itself all the way to Manchester airport in such cold weather and with sooooooo many people on board, so instead it abruptly refused to go any further, when it finally arrived at Manchester Victoria. Now those of a Southern disposition may not be aware but the distance between Manchester Victoria and t’airport is significantly more than a ‘stone’s throw’ apart. So Sector 2 became a bunfight for space on the next available airport train; alas two more were cancelled due to ‘trespassers on the line’ apparently – what the hell were these people doing on a wintry morning on the railway lines?! Retrieving lost supermarket trolleys perhaps?! Who knows but once again my smooth and relaxed arrival at the airport became a foul mouthed, sweaty sprint to the departure gate…

Sector 3, I guess you are now expecting me to rant about air traffic control and flight delays due to swirling leaves, low flying sparrows or more likely just the French but No, all good, virtually on time AND the utopia of an empty seat next to me!! I settled down happily to enjoy the audible version of Sherlock Holmes read by Stephen Fry…brilliant….

But…there’s always a but…the seat behind was occupied by a middle aged rapper who insisted on wearing headphones and singing along to whatever was on his Walkman iPhone thingy whilst simultaneously reproducing the complete works of the riverdance troupe with his hefty size tens. When reproached he, of course, was completely oblivious and instantly resumed his 6 hour incantation… Micheal Flatley would be impressed.

However I am now about to fall into a long overdue coma / sleep but after sampling the excellent local beverage and, so far, amazing street food ( hopefully this impression does not change overnight) in a much better mood!

Apologies for the ‘descriptive’ nature of the text but you really had to be here….