What better way to embrace your new surroundings than feeling the bare ground under the soles of your feet and the dirt in between your toes!
You were only wearing flip flops and even then your feet still get dirty so why bother?
Kanchanaburi, a beautiful city with plenty of characteristics and history! the River Kwai bridge for instance.. During WW II, Japan constructed the meter-gauge railway line from Ban Pong, Thailand to Thanbyuzayat, Burma which runs for 250 miles. The railway line was meant to transport cargo daily to India, to back up their planned attack on India. The construction was done using POWs and Asian slave laborers in unfavorable conditions. The work started in October 1942 was completed in a year. Due to the difficult terrain, thousands of laborers lost their lives.
This was my meeting point when I arrived in the city to be taken to the Safari park. It really is a beautiful place and people just walk along the bridge when the steam trains aren’t using it!
One night all the volunteers got on the safari bus to take us to the River Kwai Bridge where an event called Loy Kea Thong was being celebrated it is traditional in Thailand, there where hundreds of candles left to float down the river and many lanterns let up into the sky, it was beautiful!
Besides from work and activities through out the day involving our animals at the park there was plenty more to keep us entertained and loving every minute of the experience.
Just around the corner we had the Dam, after work we would all chuck on our swimwear, grab a towel, jump on our scooters and drive the 5 mins round the corner to the dam always in time for sunset! Sunset was beautiful here and at dawn tons of bats would fly over and into the jungle. It wasn’t much and the water wasn’t the clearest or most appealing however it was somewhere we could all sit down, crack open a Chang (beer) and relax. We’d often stand over the side of the railings and jump off the bridge into the water for a cool down after being in the sticky sun all day which was always refreshing! We spent many hours laughing together at this spot and sometimes even our dogs would come down to join us for a swim!
Unfortunately it wasn’t until the end of my stay at the park we discovered that a 10 minute drive down the round was the Lake, which was also where our shower water came from and there for probably the cleanest place for us to swim… and we were right the lake was beautiful! a really nice place to go and relax and take a dunk! I had found out about the lake as Tat (head volunteer) had asked if id like to come with her to feed and de-tick some puppies she had found not long before that, they had been dumped at one of the sheltered bench areas along the dirt road circling the lake, of course I said yes! The puppies were adorable and some of the local children who had they’re eyes on them for the last few days thought so too! They had named them and were handling them often, one day when we came the puppies were gone but so was they’re bedding and the dog food we had left there, we believe and hope the children must have taken them home with them! The lake was also a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunset.
In our local town Bo Plhoi there was ‘Big Buddha’ as we called it, it sat up on a mountain top and you were able to drive up to it and walk around. It was a lovely view point especially at night, you could see the city lights go on for miles surrounded by jungle swallowed in darkness.
There was also opportunities to teach English in the local schools, it was paid work 300 TBH an hour! not bad! This was something I really enjoyed and took great pleasure in doing. The children were a delight and there enthusiasm to learn made it so enjoyable! I also helped out with a class that ran a few times a week on the safari park with a range of age groups, again the children were a pleasure and made my day when they unexpectedly arrived on Christmas Day. The class was a blast and they even brought me presents after! Singing, playing games, laughing and sticking stickers on teachers face, which was me, no matter how many times I said call me Lucy… 2 seconds later id be TEACHER! again, though I found it humoring!
For a more social night to let loose, get a few drinks in and have a boogey we would set off into the city, Kanchanaburi! Every Wednesday night Mr Lee (the bus driver and the happiest guy your’ll ever meet!) would pull up outside the volunteer house in the safari bus ready to chauffeur us there and back. It was a good little set up making sure we were all able to safely get back to park, unless we chose to make our own way to stay out later than the bus curfew (usually 11 pm) or if we decided to stay in town for the night at one of the hostels if we had a day off after. In town are regular was The Sugar Member bar it was always a good laugh with a pool table, neon lights and good music.
There was also the reggae bar with a more chilled atmosphere and some good live music and if you needed cheap and cheerful there was always the 10 baht bar where you would pay no more than 60 baht per drink (equivalent to 12p in £’s!!!)
There are some beautiful things to see in Kanchanaburi, one being Erawan National Park. One day a bunch of us volunteers got a taxi to see Erawan waterfall, its built up of 7 levels each level you can walk to starting from the bottom, up. At each point you can stop and swim in the waterfalls that create the stunning Erawan, there are also some lovely viewpoints. However watch out! it might not be quite what you expected when the 5 inch fish start sucking on the soles of you feet! That was a shock! but if you sit still it can be quite relaxing and a free pedicure!
And on hot days when you need a refreshing break my favourite thing to stop and grab was a Thai Tea! They’re ridiculously tasty and usually come served in a clear bag like the ones you would get when you win a goldfish at the fair, which if that isn’t embracing a new culture then I don’t know what is?!
Besides using the butt gun for the first time when you get to Thailand… (some of you will know what I mean!)