Next stop after BKK was Kanchanaburi which is a 2hr minivan ride away. It’s a nice riverside town with a lot of bars, restaurants, clothes stall, salons, cafes etc all along the riverside. It’s busy-ish but not manic, which makes it the perfect get away if BKK has driven you crazy.
The main attraction at Kanchanaburi is the Death Railway to Myanmar which was constructed by the Prisoners of War (POWs) and Asian workers/slaves working for the Japanese during World War II. A visit to the Thai Burma Railway Center museum gave me a better understanding of the history around building of the railway and the treatment of the POWs who had to live and work in nightmarish conditions. Around 15,000 POWs and 100,000 Asian workers died during the construction of the railway! There’s a war cemetery right across the museum where the remains of around 7,000 POWs, from the UK, Netherlands and Australia, are buried. This railway is still functional and it was pretty interesting to walk on the track itself. The track has been turned into a pathway with a lot of observation decks where people can stand and watch the train go by. The train goes real slow though as there are people who stand in front of the train, taking selfies, while the train keeps honking to shoo them away! Lol
On my second day there, I went to go the Erawan waterfalls which is around 43miles from Kanchanaburi. I was told that it being the weekend it gets absolutely swamped with locals going for a picnic but I didn’t want to wait 2 days so I decided to wake up at 5am and be there for 7:30am hoping I would miss all the tourists and locals. And I did! On all the 7 levels, I saw a group of 3 people on the 2nd level. For the rest of the climb and the remaining levels I was all by myself (except the 100 or so lizards) which was just perfect.
I say 7 levels but I only went as far as 6 coz for the last one I’d have to climb rocks and wade through ankle deep water and frankly, I just wasn’t too bothered. The motorbike ride to the Erawan National park was another treat as the roads, which were lined by massive trees most of the way, were almost empty that early in the day.
There is another museum that I would have loved to go to which is the Hellfire Pass. This is the pass that the POWs and the civilian workers/slaves cleared by hand, by cutting and blasting through rocks, to clear a path for the Death railway. The walk through the jungle to go down to the pass, the walk along the railway line and the audio guide are meant to be an experience to remember. I didn’t go to this museum because I realized I was fast losing interest in “doing” things. I know that Kanchanaburi is a nice town and that the waterfalls were beautiful but this is more of an objective review than how I really felt. What I felt was ‘traveler’s fatigue’. I felt like I didn’t want to go sight seeing anymore and I didn’t want to move every 3-4days. Basically I didn’t want to “do” anything for a while. So after a last minute change of plans, I decided to head to Chiang Mai and stay there for at least 10 days.