Sunday, October 21, 2007

...but i wanted to see the TIGERS!

today i was supposed to pet a tiger. the fates were conspiring against me.

got up a little later than we should have (but at a boutique hotel called "dream," it was to be expected), and took a cab to the south bus terminal, which was mysteriously immaculate and abandoned. we soon realised the grand opening would not be until the following week, so flagged down a cab and frantically explained our way to the OTHER south bus terminal, which felt more like a south asian bus depot (crowded and dirty). we jumped onto the back of the bus for our 120km ride north into Kanchanaburi.

2 hours later, we arrived ~1pm, and wandered about until we found the tourist office and could figure out HOW to get up the infamous river kwai (where the japanese used POWs + many asian slaves to build a bridge spanning the strategic river), and more importantly, get to the infamous tiger temple. a friend had indicated we might have to rent a motorbike/scooter, a fact that had me excited, and kathryn a bit nervous. (un)fortunately, there was a bus service available. since the bridge/river was nearby though, we opted to hop into the back of truck, which was the makeshift cab of the region.

the bridge was interesting, but only impressive given the historical significance. though we wondered if it would be so had their not been a major literary work documenting it into fame (as many modern historical sites, e.g. the Alahambra in Granada, Spain, where american author Washington Irving, and another of his european contemporaries made it infamous). was traversed the bridge, which was precariously overlooking the river Kwai (ie, you could fall in if you weren't too careful walking along the tracks). on the other sides were some shops, a park, and sadly, a few captured elephants. we took the necessary pictures, and made our way back across, eager to catch our 45km bus to the tiger temple.

we made it the street, caught our bus, and rode along. upon getting to our stop (which was more like an unofficial pause long enough for us to hop off), we wandered a dirt path, as our guide suggested, but the dirt path soon ended, leaving us on paved road. we flagged a tour van down for directions, and as they were bound in the same direction, they allowed us to cram in w/ a bunch of northern europeans. we made small talk for some two minutes down the road, and were soon at our destination. it was 3.50pm - this is where the day got disappointing.

according to ALL of our sources (2 guidebooks - lonely planet AND lets go, the regional tourism website, and some personal references), the time to view (and for a fee, pet the tigers) was from 3.30 - 5pm. not anymore.

annoyed, and with nothing left to do, we walked back to the main street. the walk back took significantly longer than our hitched ride, but we used it to curse the stupid monks for changing the time on the main reason we even came all the way out to Kanchanaburi. we waited for our bus, and upon seeing it approach us, flagged it down. it passed us by. figuring we were not necessarily at the right stop, we walked down the road, only to be passed by ANOTHER bus. dejected, we continued walking, and were eventually picked up by a local bus making quite a few more stops.

after 45 mins or so, we made it back to the city center, grabbed a quick bite (pan pizza), and caught a bus back, where kat invented the game "spot the King," basically a "punchbuggy" game everytime we saw an official poster of the King (which is pretty much on any official sign or building here). i started reading my new borrowed book, Prince of Ayodhya (a fictional prose retelling the Ramayan, one of the sacred Hindu texts, which i grew up learning about via comics, a british TV drama, and skits my parents made me participate in). naturally the superhero-like interest had me intrigued.

upon returning we argued with a cab driver to take us to our hotel (no one would go by the meter, but since we knew how much it cost to get to the south bus station from earlier in the day, we were able to negotiate a decent flat rate). we stopped quickly in our room, then caught a cab back out, this time to the night market, where we grabbed a quick bite at a hawker-center type venue (w/ really bad Thai pop singers), some decent Pad-Thai, and some watered down Green Curry. we then wandered the shops, which were 2-3x more expensive than the weekened market from the day before. we grabbed some trinkets (given my current reading material, i was inspired when i found a small Hanuman statue).

all in all, we spent most of the day travelling for something we were not able to see. i blame the monks. stupid monks. but i got to see an elephant and buy a monkey, so the day wasn't a complete waste.

more pictures from our day can be found by clicking the image below...

1 comment:

  1. I just read about how you can pet the tigers in some magazine. That's pretty cool that you were even there. I'm sure petting them would have been like petting a really fat house cat. So I wouldn't sweat it.

    Sounds like a fun day! Punch Kat for me!


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