One of the tourist attractions in Thailand is ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’. Apparently named after a movie or something?
It’s one of those famous bridges. Like the rope bridge in Indiana Jones or the bridge on soi 2 where Jonas and the ladyboy…… well… it’s a famous bridge right.
I can’t say that looking at a bridge was top of my list of things to do. Not when the list had items such as sleeping, drinking and stabbing myself in the leg with a fork on it. Driving 19 hours to see a bridge was not a priority.
Roll on 8 years and a visit from my folks, when a visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai was mentioned. Why not? If we didn’t do that, I’d have to take the parents out drinking, and as I’d since discovered my parents can drink enough booze to base another season of Boardwalk Empire on, I decided to go to the BotRK
All hotels have a box somewhere full of leaflets advertising many tours. The BotRK was one of them. Yes, you could do it all yourself but it’s just so much easier paying a few quid and letting someone do it all for you.
It’s a long way to drive, just to see a bridge, so in addition to the bridge there was a little boat trip, elephant ride, lunch and a waterfall tagged on the end. A days worth of stuff to do.
The minivan picked us up around 7am. A three hour drive followed which most people used to catch up on some sleep.
When we arrived, the guide told us the agenda. Basically, have a look at the museum, see the bridge and back on the van in 45 minutes. Now, this didn’t seem long to me.
The museum is pretty interesting. Lots to see and read. It’s not quite in the same condition as the Natural History Museum in London, but everything was old and dusty, a bit like Doctor Bonds wallet, so a museum none the less.
The time went pretty quick and because the bridge was a 5 min walk we had to double time it through the museum and miss all the info. Good job they sell programs there.
Next up was the walk along the bridge itself. Not sure how much of the bridge is original as it’s undergone a lot of mods to cater for people traipsing over it all day. There is a section that is completely different to rest of the bridge – which is where it was blown up in the war. Or the movie? Not sure which.
It’s a fair old walk from one side the other. Walking across with my Dad, who tells me his Dad was once here, lead me to think about what it was like back then. The heat, the smell, the conditions. But mainly I just thought about what was for lunch.
Looking back along the bridge, I would hazard a guess at it looking back then, pretty much like it was now, except all the Japanese now have cameras.
Not wanting to be late for the minivan, we up’d the pace to negotiate past all the Chinese tourists taking pictures whilst giving the V-sign. I made a point of giving my own ‘v-sign’ to a few camera wielding people who just stood around blocking the walkways..
Twenty minutes later we boarded some kind of jetty. The buffet restaurant looked like it was part of a scene in a Rambo movie. The food was the same as you get on every excursion. Green curry, fried lice and sweet and sour chicken. Miss Tim made easy work of what was on offer. Makes you wonder if tourists in the UK are given sausage, egg and chips when they go on organized tours?
After lunch we were given life jackets and show onto a raft. Tom Hanks built a better raft on his own using DHL boxes, video tape and a football. However, Tom Hanks hadn’t just had a hearty lunch, so we were one up than him.
The raft is towed up stream and positioned in the middle of the river and then let go. The flow of the river is strong enough to have you floating down the river faster than it takes Miss Tim to buy a pair of shoes.
A few kilometers (I think) down river we arrived at the elephant park. It was raining, muddy and stinking of elephant poo.
The elephant ride cost a few hundred baht and for those who have only been close to an elephant when you’ve had to walk around them on your way to a bar in soi 4, they’re pretty cool. You could say it’s cruel to keep them like that, and to make them cart people around all day but to be honest, the weight of us or even an American is not going to be noticed by an elephant – and they get fed all day as a bonus! If Miss Tim could get fed all day for carrying me around, she’d start working out.
In a similar way that that a fart comes with a smell, organized excursions come with Chinese tourists. Girls. One of these girls standing up a platform for embarking/disembarking the elephants dropped her handbag onto the ground where an elephant was standing. She screamed hysterically and started to make her way down the ladder. Still yelping like a pig, as the big elephant reversed out with his new passengers and went on his way. Another elephant arrived ready to change passengers. He ( I assume it was a he?) walked up to where the handbag was and stopped. Was I the only one hoping he’s stand on the handbag and crush her Hello Kitty iPhone7? Instead, the elephant reached down with his trunk and picked it up, returning it to the top of the platform. The Chinese girl was still running around screaming. She got the bag and ran off. No tip for the elephant handlers and no peanuts for the elephant. Cow.
An elephant handler makes about 3000 per month. They’ll let you ride up front and they’ll get off the elephant and take your pictures of you. They’re pretty friendly.
After the elephant ride, our chariots awaited. Off to see some waterfall? Not sure why? I’ve no interest in seeing a waterfall but off we went anyway. I’d guess that if the weather was nice it’d be pleasant to see maybe. However, it was drizzling with rain,so looking at more water was just not a fun idea.
Fortunately, opposite the waterfall is a bunch of market stalls where Miss Tim could buy food.
An hour later we were back on the minivan and on the way to a train stop. Fifteen minutes later we were in a train, riding through the jungle for 30 mins. Some good sights but nothing much of interest.
Half an hour later we were at the train station with our minivans waiting. Dig in for the 3 hour drive back to Bangkok
All in all, it was a pretty good day out. The downside is that it’s a bit of a hike. It’s a tough decision on whether to drive it yourself, but, looking at a bridge is not enough to fill the day.
What I was disappointed about was the lack of ‘tour-guide’. I’d have thought they’d have given us a bit of a talk…. You know, like tour guides do!
The tour cost 1100 each which included them picking us up at the hotel and lunch. The elephant ride was an extra 200.
All in all… not a bad way to spend a day and for little money.