At the end of 2012, beginning of 2013, when I was visiting the family in Thailand, the five of us went to Kanchanaburi. Then Nina-Nana, my mum’s parents, visited us and we went to Jomtien Beach (next to Pattaya Beach).
Kanchanaburi is a 2 hour, 130 km drive from Bangkok. Mum wanted to go because she had read about Floatel (where we stayed) in the New Yorker, and because the parents had seen the film The Bridge on the River Kwai when they were growing up.
We got on a boat after parking our car, and it took us to where we were spending the rest of the day (and night).
These are floating rooms, tucked into a floating bamboo lodge moored along the river side. No electricity or wifi – you can see the traditional kerosene lamps in the picture above, it was the “eco hideaway in nature” that they promised. The walls were weaved from local bamboo, reflecting Mon living style, each room had an en-suite private bathroom, balcony and a hammock.
The balcony included stairs to get into/out of the river. We discovered that if you got into the water at the far end of the floatel, then you could take advantage of the flow of the water to get to the other end. Life jackets were provided by floatel.
The majority of the other guests at floatel were Russian, there seemed to be a Russian tour company that sent a lot of people here, the manager of the hotel was really worried for them because they would jump into the water and let the flow of the river carry them all the way to the waterfall. Something we witnessed the next morning – they packed all their things and put it on one of the boats, checked out and proceeded to jump into the water. We saw kids of 3 years, to grandparents doing this!
My sisters and I did it first. Then mother jumped in. So father joined in too. Mother and father had a hard time getting back upto the floatel. It was fun to help them.
This holiday happened soon after my second lifeguarding qualification. By this time, they started trusting my sensibilities in the water.
The next morning we went to The Bridge – also known as the Death Railway Bridge.
The bridge is 300m long, the centre of it was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1945, so only the outer curved spans are original.
There was a second (wooden) bridge the Japanese built 100m downstream which isn’t there anymore.
Trains actually run across this bridge, and you can stand in one of the safety points along the bridge if it appears!
Then we went back home to Bangkok. Nina-Nana arrived. Then we took them to Jomtien Beach. Jomtien is right next to Pattaya Beach, which is really famous amongst tourists, but also slightly sketchy and expensive because of that. Jomtien has more local people, more Russian tourists (Russians everywhere in Bangkok, Priya and Father got to practice some of their skills too), and it’s more affordable.
We stayed in a beach-side hotel, hung out by the beach side, we got their nails done by Thai ladies roaming the beach.
And my youngest sister and I went Jet-skiing for half an hour!