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More of the photos of the west.

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Kamphaeng Phet and the narrow isthmus providing a sort of beach.

These are the bricks I was talking about earlier. It seems a lot of the “ancient sites” utilized red brick technology. I thought it kind of took away from the appearance of age when it looked like stuff I see walls and fireplaces made out of today. The “Made in China” stamps on the bottom of the bricks were also a giveaway.

Another temple. Sorry, but you go to Thailand, this is what you get. What are you going to do, not take a photo. I was cutting back to a photo after every 50 temples or so.

Amo getting new running gear in Chinat. New chain and sprockets 550B.

The “new” Bridge over the river Kwai. The original was bamboo and wood but it was blown up pretty quickly.

Now its pretty much a tourist trap. There is really nothing to see that signifies its importance, but still nice to get to see the actual place where something happened. It will be another movie situation where I will get to say, I was there.

You can walk across or ride a little tourist train.

An old Chinese cemetery.

I liked this headstone as there was a picture of the young fellow. Looks the same as if he were alive today. That is what drives me, here today gone tomorrow.

This is the allied cemetary.

This was only a small portion of the people who died building the bridge.

The Three Pagodas at the Burma border.

This was an interesting fellow. On my way to Bangkok I got lost and was in nowhere land. You can tell you are lost when there is no longer any signs with English. It was a main road that went on a long way. There was maybe one turnoff every couple of kilometers and they led off to dirt road accesses to farms. It was very barren and I actually got a bit worried that I truly might make it to Burma if I kept going to wherever this road would take me. Eventually I came to a slightly busy intersection where there were a few roadside carts. I stopped and chose this colorfully dressed fellow as I was really doubting the chances of finding a English speaker to help with directions. Surprisingly, he spoke pretty good English. He was a colorful character as he was a radio DJ, a columnist in the local paper (he handled the spiritual/horoscope section), and ran a little drink stand with his wife. We had a good chat and he pointed me in the right direction. I was off course by about 30kms, but it turned out to be worth the detour. I got a newspaper with his column, an autograph, and info on all the must sees around the area.

Mae Sot to Kanchanaburi and sort of success.

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Leaving Mae Sot, the road headed back into central Thailand which had cities but lacked in interesting things to see. Now, I wasn’t so inspired about seeing the usual temples, but it is nice if there are cities that have something worthy of a notation in a guide book because then at least a housing recommendation is available. I generally don’t have any issues rolling into a new town with no plan, but the distances between central cities were longer and I was consistently getting hammered by rain in the evenings. My next stop was an exception however when I learned that the town housed another Unesco World Heritage site.

Kamphaeng Phet is pretty much under the tourist radar as though it did have the UWH site, it was an inconvenient stopover for most people who are bee lining it to/from Chiang Mai.

I made it a few day layover as the old Chinese hotel I found turned out to be the cheapest air-conditioning room that I have ever had. The town was also somewhat a nice place to hang out as there was a great river walkway, a connected island, and a big Sunday activities day for the locals. The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park which houses the aforementioned UWH is made up of a old walled city interspersed with palaces, ruins, and crumbling walls. I had originally planned to do a walk through as I really hadn’t done a pay site since Cambodia. That plan was negated when I saw the new ticket price of 250B for foreigners. The walled city is right intersected by roads from the town, so it is possible to see most everything from the road, but you are not able to walk among them. By just cruising around on Amo and cruising around the main roads and any dirt roads I could find I was able to see that the site itself was no way worth the entry fee. The whole site was built using standard red bricks and then covered with a sort of concrete. It may be a classic old site, but it was built using some advanced techniques so that even now 500 years later, it looks like a pile of fairly modern structures, to the non-educated like me at least. I still had a good time in the town with the good room, lots of places to eat, a great afternoon session when the whole town would hang out at the river, and some interesting drives.

I made a stopover at a random town named Chinat. It was actually somewhat memorable for a couple of reasons. The first was due to the amazing luck that I had with Amo. I was starting to get a grinding sound coming from the chain and sprocket. If I accelerated too hard from a stop, a nasty grinding sound would occur. It got consistently worse as I was making my was to Chinat. It got so bad that I had to manually push Amo a bit with my feet before accelerating in order to get moving without the grind. I was extremely lucky when I was able to not only roll into Chinat, but made it to a moto shop. Actually, I made it to the other side of the street from the shop. As there was traffic going the other way I had to stop and wait. Amo had finally given out and I had to walk her across the street to the shop. I just had to put it in gear for the guy to know the chain and sprockets were gone. 10 minutes later and 750B I had a new chain set and was on my way in search of a hotel. I lucked out again finding a nice massive and clean hotel which had rooms fitting all levels of quality. It turned out to be a fun evening when the Thailand’s version of a Red Bull company put on a live concert right across the street. It was also home to a top three rated night market where I paced myself and had five different courses throughout the night. On the other side of town was a big river with a nice walk way. The city, although not making it into the tourist books turned out to be rather pleasant.

From there it was a straight shot to my final targeted town of Kanchanaburi. What makes Kanchanaburi of interest is that is where the infamouse Death railway bridge or more popularly known “bridge over the river Kwai”. Most should know it from its part in World War II history as well as the background for a classic movie.

Some fast facts about the Death bridge:
-16000 POWs died constructing it mostly British/Australian and Allied soldiers.
-The Japanese army spearheaded the build in order to hasten the takeover of the Asian areas.
-completed in 16 months
-1 Allied soldier survived by escaping and fighting with Karen guerrillas.
-100,000 Thai, Burmese, Malaysian, and Indonesias also were killed while helping to build the bridge and the 415kms to Burma.
-All but a few stanchions are new having been rebuilt after the war since in 1945 it was virtually destroyed.

After visiting the very touristy bridge, I had one more objective, taking my last shot at crossing over to Burma. 225 Kilometers from Kanchanaburi is the Three Pagodas pass a legal entry point to Burma. Although it is not possible for Thai visa renewals, it was supposedly possible to get a day pass to visit the Burma border town, Payathonzu, without having to stamp in and out of Thailand. The ride to the border is also renowned as one of the most beautiful in Thailand.

Long story short, the border was closed as whenever tensions arise between the two countries or if any issues with the Burmese rebels sprouted up, foreigners are denied access to the little border town. No worries though as it was possible to view the “Three Pagodas”, as well as portions of the Burmese shops lining the border.

And with a mission not completed, I headed back to Bangkok to round out my tour of South East Asia.