Thailand

08/01/2004 - Hot springs

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To round off our tour we went to some hot springs, although this photo of Clare was actually taken in the very cold river that you were supposed to periodically take a dip in.

08/01/2004 - Hellfire pass

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Another part of the death railway. The railway to link Thailand with Burma was built by the japanese during world war two. The British had looked at building the railway before, but had decided that it was too hard to do. The japanese got round this by using forced labour. They used tens of thousands of POWs, and hundreds of thousands of people from surrounding countries. They worked very long days, with little food, little medical care, and not much rest. Unsurprisingly they died in their thousands. As if the amount dying from disease and malnutrition wasn't enough, the Japanese guards killed plenty themselves for various minor deviations from the rules, or just because they wanted to.

Around 15000 POWs died, and around 90000 asian workers. The railway was completed in 17 months, a lot faster than the 5 year estimate, and was used for 22 months until the end of the war.

Hellfire pass was probably the hardest part of the railway to construct, with a huge amount of rock to be removed. The work was done without any power tools at all. It was named Hellfire pass because of the way it looked at night, when they workd with fires burning, and petrol lights so they could see what they were doing.

07/01/2004 - Karen village

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we spent the night at a village of the Karen hilltribe people, staying in a hut on stilts.

07/01/2004 - Than Lod Yai

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Which translates as big cave. Which it is. It used to be even bigger before large parts of it collapsed in an earthquake. We reached this after a 3 hour trek through the jungle from Than Lod Noi (small cave), the first day of a two day tour from Kanchanaburi.

06/01/2004 - swimming at waterfalls, again

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At Erewan falls. It has seven tiers, and took about an hour to walk to the top. The photo is at tier 4, which has a natural slide. Down at tier 2 we saw a huge moniter lizard, over a metre long, taking a dip.

05/01/2004 - The bridge over the river Kwai

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Not a particluarly exciting thing to see, but we went to two or three museums about the history of it and the railway that runs over it. It was made all the more interesting by the fact that a pop video was being filmed on the bridge while we were there. You might be able to just make out two people dancing as the train went past.

02/01/2004 - Khao San Road

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Back in Bangkok, and this time we decided to stay at Khao San Road, the backpacker spot. The entire street is full of guesthouses, bars, and shops and stalls selling cheap clothes and jewellry.

01/01/2004 - Celebrating New Year

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We saw an advert for this chocolate fondue back when we were first in Thailanjd, and we thought we would treat ourselves to one now. Thats 9 little scoops of ice cream there, and a gorgeous little brownie.

01/01/2004 - Overloaded

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We have seen some overloaded traliers and vehicles in our time in Asia, but this one wins the prize! Taken at the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

20/11/2003 - A day of Wats

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We spent our last day in Chaing Mai touring the old city to see some of the wats. There are 300 in Chaing Mai, but we only managed 5 of the more interesting ones.

We leave Thailand tomorrow, after a 6 hour bus trip, we cross the border by ferry. Then it will be 2 days on boats down the Mekong to our first destination in Laos.

Don't know how good internet services will be in Laos, so until we meet again, adieu!

19/11/2003 - Back to school

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We spent the day learning how to cook Thai food at the Thai Culinary Art School. We made green curry, fried tofu cakes, spring rolls, chicken and cashew nuts (tofu in mine), sweet and sour soup, egg noodle thing, steamed coconut custard and learnt vegetable carvings. We also visited a local food market at the start of the day. Not bad for 5 hours work! and it was YUM!

18/11/2003 - Waterfall

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Our first waterfall in Asia! And what a nice one it was too.

18/11/2003 - Elephant ride

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A few days ago we were against elephant rides, but then read a page in the lonely planet that says it is the only way a lot of people can afford to look after their elephants now that the logging industry doesn;t use them as much. If they don't get the tourist dollars they can't feed them. Clare volunteered to go on the front, and we spent an hour or so going through the jungle, up and down some very steep inclines.

18/11/2003 - Wobbly bridge

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The millenium bridge may have been wobbly, but I guarantee it wasn't as wobbly as this one. Had rather a lot of gaps too.

17/11/2003 - Chang Mai night bazaar

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Another great market. Nowhere near as many stalls as before, but still loads of good stuff. If only we didn't have to post it home! We have been very restrained.

16/11/2003 - Saengthaew

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We have used a variety of transport in Thailand so far. The sawngthaew like this one is popular, along with the Saamlaw, called a tuk-tuk by westerners. The name saamlaw covers anything with 3 wheels, but tuk tuk is usually used for a moped converted to 3 wheels and carries 3 people (or 7 as we have seen).

16/11/2003 - Escapee!

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This little one year old was in an enclosure with its mum, playfully headbutting and kicking it's mahout. Every so often it would make an attempt to escape through the fence, then it did! Barging a log out of the way it made a run for it. About 5 metres anyway, when it stopped next to us. The mahout didn't seem concerned, and it stayed out with us for 5 minutes or so before he came and got it. It managed to tread on both our feet in that time!

16/11/2003 - Elephant painting

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For those that don't know, Martin was here last year and bought us a painting done by an elephant for Christmas. We had to come and see it being done, just to make sure he wasn't making it up.

And here it is!

15/11/2003 - Flamin Buddha

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This Buddha image is at Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat in Phitsanulok. It receives the second most donations after the emerald Buddha in Bangkok, around 180000 pounds a year.

It is unique due to the flaming halo, that turns up at the bottom and becomes dragon heads on either side.

14/11/2003 - Sukhothai again

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This is Wat Mahathat at Sukhotai, the largest and most impressive of the city.

14/11/2003 - Sukhothai

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Sukhothai was the first capital of Thailand, about 800 years ago. The ruins are being restored, and the best way to see them is by renting a bike and using pedal power. It was a bit hot (as always), but it was a very pleasant way to get around.

12/11/2003 - Bang Pa In

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This is part of the summer palace near Sukhothai. It is no longer used by the King, but is used by visiting dignatories like Queen Liz when she came to stay.

The photo is of a Thai pavilion in a lake. There was also an ornate Chinese style building, and other very elaborate buildings. We liked the topiary herd of elephants in the garden though! (obviously)

12/11/2003 - Buddhas galore!

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Told you there were loads! This carried on round the other three sides of the stupa too.

12/11/2003 - Ayuthaya

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We have only been here a week, and we have already seen hundreds of buddha images, from the very small to the huge. Here is another, at Ayuthaya. Behind is another common sight at the old Wats, stupas(big pointy things!) They do like to clothe their Buddha images, however huge they may be.

12/11/2003 - Head in a tree

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One of the most photographed sights at Ayuthaya, the broken head of a Buddha image that has been enveloped by a growing tree. Our guide tried to convince us that it was no longer there and was now in a museum, but we did some investigation and found out it was a 5 minute tuk tuk ride away. We left our tour group and went on our own! Couldn't miss it.

10/11/2003 - Shopping

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Everything being so cheap here, does have its down side. It means that we keep buying things!

This is me having a fitting for some tailored suits we are having made!

10/11/2003 - Wat Arun

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Here is a 83 metre tower, decorated with broken chinese porcelain. This was common (at turn of the 19th century) when chinese ships calling at Bangkok used tons of old porcelain as ballast.

09/11/2003 - Reclining Buddha

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This is Wat Pho temple, home to the largest recling buddha in Thailand at 45 meters long, and covered in gold!

The temple was also home to the largest collection of buddha images in Thailand, and a school taught by monks. They have one of the most famous Thai massage schools there too, but we didn't give it a go. It does look painful, but we will have to try it one day.

09/11/2003 - Giant Buddha

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This is the tallest Buddha in Thailand at 32 metres high, covered in gold leaf.

09/11/2003 - Buddha images

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In front of all of the buddhas are plates for gifts, places for candles and incense sticks, and usually someone selling gold leaf, which you can press onto the statues.

09/11/2003 - Tuk Tuk

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Tuk Tuks are hot, noisy, polluting, and lots of fun!

09/11/2003 - The Grand Palace

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Here is part of the Grand Palace, no longer residence to the King.

09/11/2003 - Temple of the Emerald Buddha

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The emerald Buddha was made in the 15th century and is actually made from Jade. The Buddha has 3 changes of robes, and the King is responsible for changing them each season.

The temple in which it stands (and the whole site) were specifically built for the Buddha. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the temple, but it was very impressive, lots more gold, murals covered the walls, lots of other Buddha statues, and lots of candles, incense and flowers.

09/11/2003 - Temples

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We spent today sightseeing. This is part of the Emerald buddha temple complex, which covers 945,000 sq metres, and has more than 100 buildings. The area was amazing, with incredibly ornate buildings. This one was particularly shiny, covered entirely in gold!

08/11/2003 - The best market ever

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15,000 stalls of cheap stuff. We spent over 6 hours there and still didn't see it all. If we didn't have the minor problem of shipping it all home, we could have spent a fortune!

07/11/2003 - Ronald McDonald - Thai style

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No, we didn't go in. Just tickled us as we passed it.