Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kanchanaburi, Thailand in 2006

On our second day in Thailand, we went on a private guided tour to Kanchanaburi . We booked this tour ("Erawan Pure Fun" - a full day tour) online from Good Times Travel ( for USD210. Quite costly, but we wanted to maximize our time in Thailand and taking this tour turned out to be the more efficient alternative (considering other tour options available).

A private van picked us up from the hotel in the early morning for a 3-hr drive to Kanchanaburi. We had a tour guide so it was a very informative trip. Upon arriving at Kanchanaburi, we passed by their office to get some supplies - water - then headed to our first stop which was Erawan Waterfalls National Park.

From the carpark, we were given the option to walk or ride a buggy. We decided to just take the buggy at 60baht. Good thing we did cause it can be quite a long walk up to the main entrance to the foot of the falls. And it was also a bit drizzling.

We arrived at this office where you are supposed to leave any bottles of water (to avoid tourists throwing trash around the park). Then we trekked to the mountain to reach the Erawan Falls which is one of the most beautiful falls in Thailand. It has 7 tiers and we were able to get to the 5th level.

this was the office where we left the water bottles

we stopped in one of the levels on the way up to the 5th tier

isn't it beautiful???

lucky Ira he didn't have to hike up to get to the falls. 
It was not a steep hike but because of the rain, the footpaths are a bit slippery.

finally, we arrived at the 5th tier of the falls

there were already a lot of tourists taking a dip in the falls when we got there.
Our tour guide suggested we take a dip right away as more tourists will come later in the day. Kelvin tried wallowing in the water first. It was a bit cold. And there were small fish which seem to be biting you on the leg. I think these are the ones they call "spa fish".

Ira with our friendly tour guide

some of the rocks were a bit slippery so when we found a spot where we could sit and dip our legs, we just stayed there until the time we had to leave. It was really refreshing after a long drive and walk.

last few minutes of our waterfall adventure

We headed down to the parking lot for lunch afterwards. This was included in the cost of the tour. Of course, I was sooo happy to see one of my favorite Thai dishes - chicken and peanuts. Of course, there was the Thai fried rice, some chicken curry, etc. Yum yum!

Lunchtime was over and we were on our way to the elephant camp where we were to ride elephants and go bamboo rafting on the River Kwai.

entrance to the elephant camp

Ira was being handed over to me while I was sitting on the specially designed seat at the back of the elephant

I was a bit scared but excited. This was the first time for all of us to ride an elephant. They are really huge animals! Even compared with the camel which I got to ride on in Australia.

everything's settled. Good thing I brought the baby carrier, otherwise I would be wondering how I am going to carry Ira for the whole 30minute elephant ride!

making our way to the jungle

hold on tight! Our mahout just left us!

it was drizzling again. I had to hold the umbrella as well as support Ira.
Slow down, elephant.

the elephant ride brought us around the camp...
- to the feeding area where they showed us how strong the elephants were uprooting small shoots/trees
- to the work area where the elephants had to push and pull logs 
- to the bathing area, the river....

it was quite scary when the elephants were making their way down the river. 

I was thinking if they somehow slipped on the way down and fell over, we would probably be crushed!
Good thing they were good at balancing. The mahouts knew when to tell the elephants to slow down or pick up the pace.

making our way to the River Kwai where we would be going on a bamboo raft ride

he's happy alright... just a bit shaken :) Trying to hold on to dear life hahaha

on our bamboo rafting adventure on the River Kwai

Although I knew that bamboos are normally used as rafts, I was still a bit scared especially since it was raining and there was a part in the river where there was a whirlpool of sorts. The raft ride was around 30minutes. It was the longest 30minutes of my life, I think. It was scary but fun. The ride was so serene, we could only hear birds chirping and the raindrops on the river. There were times the raft man (the one maneuvering the raft) would tell us there might be some alligators on the river and we all got frightened. Good thing I think there really aren't any.

our bamboo rafting adventure was over. We were here waiting for our ride back to the main road.

while waiting we saw this "train" of bamboo rafts making its way back to the starting point beating the current. Goodluck!

After our nature adventure, our next stop was a train ride on the historical Death Railway.
while waiting for the train

still no train in sight

we are heading to that direction...

finally, the train is here!

Tourist came flocking to the train as if it was not dangerous to do so. We had to wait for our turn to board the train. Good thing we were still able to get some seats. I guess most of the other tourists wanted to stand up and walk around the train.

Kelvin enjoying the ride. This was another "first".

I had to sit down for this train ride. Ira is quite heavy to carry around.
He loved the train ride. We kept the windows a bit shut cause it was too windy.

one stop along the way

this is our stop. We got down and waited for our van to pick us up. Unfortunately, the van was not there yet. There was another group of tourists making a scene. I think their van left without them! We got scared that ours might not come in time or not come at all. But it did. Then we drove to the Bridge Over the River Kwai.

there was a train exhibit just before reaching the bridge and Kelvin couldn't wait to see it

so happy to see the train

as we made our way to the bridge, we could see group of tourists walking on the railway tracks. Mind you this is an operational track, and trains do come every now and then. Just make sure you are not ON the track when that happens.

anyway, there are "viewing areas" along the track, which I think can also be used as "escape route" in case a train suddenly comes :)

another view of the bridge with tourists

the entire length of the bridge taken from the side park

watching a floating restaurant pass by

floating restaurant just beside the bridge

our family pic before going back to Bangkok

We still had a few minutes to spare before departing for Bangkok. We visited the nearby market hoping to get some bargain. But I wasn't able to find anything that I like. So that was it. Our Kanchanaburi tour was over. I think it was good value for money since we had van all by ourselves, we didn't need to wait for anyone else. The tour guide and driver were both friendly and were constantly educating us throughout the tour.

I would recommend this tour to families, if budget is not a concern. Alternatively, there are other options. Same tour itinerary but with different mode of transpo or with a bigger crowd.

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