A bit like British rail I always get there in the end (no matter how long it takes me!!)
We got up the following day and Chris and I located our new lodgings for the evening. We had moved to a slightly more upmarket establishment and had gone from our hut on a raft on a river to a more sturdy wooden hut over.......wait for it......a swamp!! It was actually very pretty (as you can see from the photos) but I have to admit I was slightly concerned that we were both going to get eaten alive......we could see daylight through the planks of wood!! (We covered both ourselves and everything else in deet - Chris still got bitten but amazingly I escaped......he was muttering comments about having to re-think his money making plan of renting me out for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvah's to stop other people getting bitten!!)
Anyway, we had already planned to go to Chungkai Cemetery (we'd not been to that one) and then visit the temple Wat Tham Khao Poon - we were planning to hire a SongTao but when we were checking in we noticed that you could visit both these places by boat so that's what we decided to do. A long tail boat came and picked us up and our first stop was to the JEATH war museum (The name JEATH is an acronym of six of the countries involved in the railway; Japan, England, Australia, America, Thailand and Holland). (We couldn't take any photo's so I've posted some of the temple it was next to). It was basic to say the least - it was the first museum to be set up, it is housed in a reconstructed Allied POW hut made of thatched palm and has been surpassed by more informative museums in the area. It was still interesting though as it is home to a small collection of war time photographs and has an archive of newspaper articles and letters from former POW's who have revisited the area. (If you don't have a lot of time I wouldn't recommend going to this one - the best I've seen was at hellfire pass). From there we went on to the Cemetery - I was struck the last time I was here at how beautifully kept all the graves were and this time was no different. I felt a profound sadness as I looked out at the rows and rows of graves - what a waste of life!!
Then we got back in the boat and went to Wat Tham Khao Poon. It was absolutely stunning - we climbed up cliff-side steps onto a road that took us round to an oversized, pot-bellied golden Buddha who sat on a ledge looking out at the most magnificent view of the Kwai Noi river. It was stunning (and would have been very peaceful had it not been for the partying Thai's on a karaoke barge that was stationed at the bottom of the cliff-side steps!!) We then doubled back and followed signs to the Wat. The complex was huge and I would have loved more time to do a bit of exploring but we needed to get back so Tony could get his train so we went straight for the main attraction which is a nine-chambered cave connected by a labyrinth of passages. In our guide book it was described as 'every ledge and knob of rock is filled with religious icons' which I think was a slight exaggeration - there were icon's but there were dotted about the place rather than filling it!! It was beautiful though - there was a stunning reclining Buddha in the main chamber and we saw another one that was over 500 years old. I definately think we'll go back again when we've got a bit more time!!
Tony headed off and Chris and I went and did a bit more exploring of the market area - we found a whole new section behind the bit we had been looking at the day before. I have no idea how we missed it before - it was huge and I think you could buy just about everything you could ever possibly want.......and I'm not kidding......we had to laugh when we spotted a stall selling tractors next to one that was selling teddy bears!!! The market was packed and it was a gorgeous temperature as we wondered through the narrow paths between stalls smelling all the different foods that were being cooked and looking at all the different things you could buy. It was lovely!! Then we went back to see the show again.....only this time from dry land!! (mainly because we hadn't been able to take many photo's the previous night.....not easy getting clear shots from a small boat which bob's up and down every time something went past!!)
I have to say that the highlight of the night for me was discovering an Indian restaurant that did proper pakora!! We had chicken and mushroom pakora and both Chris and I thought we had died and gone to heaven.....we're trying to resist the urge to up sticks and move to Kanchanaburi!! My mouth is watering as I am typing (must try not to drool on keyboard!!)
The following morning we went back to Wat Tham Sua which was one of the temples we visited when we went with Jo, Tracey and Derek. (We resisted the lure of the Floating Nun Temple - we couldn't find any Taiwanese people to take with us to see if they would be particularly impressed!!). Chris managed to get some of the pictures that he didn't get when we visited last time and I enjoyed seeing it in all it's glory in the sun. (I went up the stairs this time - not brave enough to go the vernacular route a second time!!). All too soon it was time for us to jump on the train and head back to Bangkok!! I think it did us both good to get out of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok for a couple of days!!