Today was amazing!
let me start over; last night was weird and surreal, leading up to today, which was AMAZING!
After dropping Sheila off on the airport bus, i walked around a little bit dazed. It was weird not having my travel buddy/activities director with me! So i wandered the streets and made sure i knew how to get from my travel agent on Khao San to my guest house and back. I bought a few things here and there, making a few trips back to the guest house to unload so i didn't look like a walking money purse. I had a small and slightly over priced meal on Khao San, which made me miss the cheap family joints on th e islands, and then had a beer and went to bed. The three things worth mentioning were
1) how freaking cool it was to watch Khao San switch from day market to night market. Half the people closed up shop and went home while even more came int o replace them!
2) This old Thai blind woman who kept walking up and down the street with a karaoke machine strapped to her back, singing. Honestly, it was soo cool I didn't even think to check if she was begging until after the third time i saw her.
3) 25 baht spring rolls. I had two dishes of three, home/hand made by ladies on the street, cut up for you with large tooth picks to eat them with. Heaven.
Today I went to my travel agency at 7am to meet for my day trip to Canchanaburi. It took about two hours by mini bus (van for you Americans) to get to Canchanaburi, where we first stopped to see the War Memorial. It was basically a large cemetery for dead soldiers from world war II, but the cool thing was that the soldiers were from all different nations, all laying beside each other. Next was War museum and Death Bridge, which were also WW II related. It was all pretty cool, looking at the exhibits and picking up tidbits of history. I had no idea the Japanese played such a strong role in Thailand's past. Then the Death Railroad and bridge, which was basically a public works project started by the Japanese that hundreds of POW and Thais died constructing. Yay! Later on, after my Elephant trek, I actually road on the Death railroad, which has a gorgeous view of the River Kwai.
On the way back from the death railroad bridge, i bought some noodle soup to go, which meant in a plastic bag with no utensils. Luckily the man i bought an orange drink from (so i could try to eat with a straw) gave me some mini chopsticks/extra large tooth picks. Then we took a bamboo raft up the River Kwai, which was really cool. I mean, when i say raft i mean a bunch of bamboo strapped together and some bamboo benches on top to sit on. An older man and a little boy paddled us slowly up the river, and every time a real boat came by I lifted up my backpack to keep it dry! We stopped at the guest house where the people doing a 2 day trip would stay and they had a lunch all set up for us, which was great. Then we took a truck to the Tiger Temple!!
Wat Pa Luangta is outside of Canchanaburi, and apparently it was a monastary for a while when a cub, orphaned by poachers, needed someone to take it in after a botched attempt at stuffing it (yeah, that's right, the rich a**holes tried to have it stuffed alive, but the poor thing survived). Basically, the monks, being good Buddhists who want to minimize the suffering of all creatures, took in this cub, and then others until the temple became a sanctuary for the tigers. We went in and walked around, meeting peacocks, wild boar, water buffalo, cows, horses and wild roosters before reaching the tiger area. We got to watch some cubs play with their older brother, and then walked down to another area where we got to have pictures taken petting the tigers! So cool!! They were all quite calm and really didn't seem to care about us people sweating to sit next to them for a few seconds. Pictures to follow I promise!!
After the Tiger Temple I went on an Elephant trek, which was actually a little disappointing because the elephant didn't go very far and was under suck excellent control that nothing of extreme interest happened. I did have a great time, though, getting to know some of my companions: a Canadian woman named Sheila who was in Thailand on her way home from Japan after working there for the last 5 years, an Austrian couple who kept entirely to themselves, and a Swiss guy and his Thai girlfriend, whom i had so much fun with but deffinately was in possession of an Adams apple. They tried to convince me to break my plans and stay on another day in Canchanaburi, but i left after making plans to meet up with them for drinks tomorrow night.
I am exhausted and hungry! Tomorrow is my Thai cooking class, and then I leave for the airport at 4am. Soon cold showers will be an option!!