From the Chomview Hotel in Hua Hin …
We check out of the Heritage Hotel Bangkok at 8a and board our bus bound for Hua Hin.
There’s lots of traffic on the way to the beaches in the south of Thailand. The rest stops are crowded with people getting in a quick weekend getaway. On the way we see salt farms, fields that are flooded with saltwater, then harvested after evaporation leaves salt behind. The geography changes as we move south, from the flatlands surrounding Bangkok to more mountainous areas along the Gulf of Thailand.
In a lot of ways this feels similar to a drive to the Outer Banks … the anticipation building as we get closer to the ocean. The new high rise condo buildings popping up along the shoreline remind me of Ocean City, Maryland.
After 3 hours on the road we stop to visit Khao Luang Cave to see the five golden Buddhas among the stalagmites and stalactites. Incense burns in the cave and creates a shaft of light that pours down from the cave entrance.
A community of monkeys live near the cave. Warning signs let us know to protect any items we have from being pilfered by curious monkeys. After we leave the cave there is an opportunity to stop and feed the monkeys. They are pretty cute and pretty well behaved.
We stop at a local mall for lunch around 12:30p. Mickey, Donna, and I opt for sushi and sake at Fuji Japanese Restaurant. An excellent choice! A fellow diner helped the three Americans with the correct way eat the noodles by pointing out the hidden sauce container with in the serving dish.
A hour later we check in at the Chomview Hotel in Hua Hin and start enjoying our weekend at the beach!
I walk a couple of miles down the beach to photograph some kiteboarders, then head back to the hotel for a swim.
Tonight’s dinner is at the hotel. Afterwards we’re visiting a night market in Hua Hin.
From the Skywalk of the Mahanakhon Tower …
We’re on the bus early this morning with a 6:30a departure to travel from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. Our run of leisurely 8a departures has come to an end!
We drive about 120 kilometers to the west of Bangkok and reach our destination at 9a. Kanchanaburi is the site of the bridge on the River Kwai where Allied prisoners of war were forced to build a railway bridge by their Japanese captors. The bridge was later destroyed by Allied bombers.
The first stop is a museum dedicated to the history of the construction of the bridge. Our itinerary calls this museum the Thailand-Burma Railway Center but the sign outside the building says Death Railway Museum. The Japanese used 61,000 Allied prisoners of war and over 200,000 Southeast Asian civilian forced laborers to build the 258 mile railway. Of those 12,000 POWs and 90,000 civilians died during construction of the rail line.
Across from the museum is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery where 7,000 of the prisoners are buried, relocated from jungle grave sites on the southern part of the railroad after the war.
Next we have an opportunity to walk across the now reconstructed River Kwai Bridge. Several minutes later the track is cleared, a train arrives, we board the train, and take the Bridge Over the River Kwai.
An hour later we arrive at Wang Pho and stop for lunch at Praweenut Restaurant where the bus has driven ahead to meet us.
Our last stop of the day is nearby at the Taweechai Elephant Camp, an elephant sanctuary that offers a chance to see these magnificent animals up close.
At 3p we board the bus for the return trip to Bangkok.
Whenever we are on the bus for an extended period of time there is a good AirDrop session that happens among the iPhone users. The Airdrop session is generally silent. Out of the blue Mickey sends a picture and the sharing session begins.
On the first day a seating arrangement develops on the bus and it remains for the entire trip – even as countries and vehicles change. Our Thailand bus sits around 40 passengers in 10 rows separated by an aisle. Since we’re only 20 everyone has a pair of seats to themselves which makes for a convenient place to put your daypack or camera bag. Brad sits in the front nearest the guide and Georgia is in the last row with Ron. I always sit toward the back of the bus. Most people want to be closer to the exit and someone needs to sit farther back, so why not me.
Also, although the roads here are better than in India, they are still bumpy enough that I can get almost a day’s worth of steps just riding in the bus! Today is one of those days.
Tonight is dinner on our own, so Mickey, Donna, Shannon, Peter, Greg, and me go to Little Home Bakery for some Pad Thai.
For an after dinner adventure we head up to the 78th floor Sky Walk at the top of Mahanakhon Tower. The Sky Walk is a glass floor with a view of Bangkok 314.2 meters down! We step out into the floor to take pictures. It’s terrifying and exhilarating!
Tomorrow we head to Hua Hin for a weekend at the beach.
On the Chao Phraya River dinner cruise …
A casual day of seeing the sights in Bangkok turns into an adventure when we get stuck in traffic on the way to dinner.
But we start the day with breakfast at the hotel, then our Thailand tour guide Suthep takes us on a tour of Bangkok landmarks.
We begin at the Bangkok flower market. It’s the largest wholesale flower market in Bangkok with fresh cut flowers and fruits of all kinds. We sample the local variety of bananas and take pictures of the flowers and vendors.
Next we visit the Grand Palace complex. We walk the grounds and visit the Emerald Buddha. Then we walk to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River for a 5 minute ferry ride directly across the river to the west bank and a quick look at Wat Arun.
We split up for lunch to save time. Mickey, Donna, Shannon, Peter, Greg and me have Pad Thai at a restaurant called Eat Sight Story overlooking the river and with a beautiful view of Wat Arun.
We wrap up the day’s sightseeing with a visit to Wat Pho and see Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Inside the temple the 46 meter long golden Buddha is laying down.
After we get back to the hotel I head out to shoot a few timelapse sequences. I need 10 to 20 minutes to shoot a good sequence and moving from place to place with the group means we are never in one place for very long. I find a Starbucks a few blocks from the hotel for some ice tea while I’m shooting. There’s an interesting pedestrian plaza over a busy intersection, so I put the DJI OSMO Pocket timelapse function to work, enjoy some ice tea, and work in today’s blog post.
We leave the hotel around 6p to take the bus to the Chao Phraya River dinner cruise but get stuck in a massive Bangkok traffic jam. It takes an hour and a half to get to the dock. We miss the cruise departure, but Suthep immediately makes a plan. We are going to get on the dinner cruise. We race two blocks from the bus to the dock, then jump aboard an express boat and speed down the river. Ten minutes later we catch up to the dinner cruise boat. We pull aside and jump from the express boat into the larger dinner cruise boat. We make it in time for dinner and it’s worth it. It’s a beautiful night for a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand.
Tomorrow we visit Kanchanaburi and an elephant sanctuary.