Got up this morning, got ready, checked out, grabbed a toastie from the 7/11 and walked down to the booking agent near kohsan road for the mini bus. The walk took longer than we thought with our big bags and we got there just on time at 9.30. When we got there the shop was shut and there were taxi men outside asking us if we wanted a taxi and where we were going. We said we had already booked through the travel shop at which point a man who was just stood there approached us and asked for the ticket. He looked at the ticket and just waved for us to follow him.
The random guy just had us follow him, without saying anything down little back alleys and through a boxing ring training area until we got to a shabby looking travel agents. He told us to put our bags down and wait 15 mins before we got on the mini bus. They didn't rush with much and more people turned up to get on the bus. When we set off we picked up more people on the way. When we stopped to pick someone up he opened the boot and my bag went crashing on the floor, which he wasn't bothered about in the slightest!
We then set off, without him still really telling us anything. The mini bus was pretty run down and made a clanky noise over the wheel and the windscreen has three massive cracks in the size of the whole screen- plus it was so bumpy like been on a ride- great start to the journey! Once we got to kanchanaburi he stopped at the bridge over the river Kwai to let some people off who were on a trip. It didn't seem like a very good or organised trip! He dropped a couple of other people off at their accommodation and then there were just us two and two men left in the van. He stopped at a point in the middle of nowhere near the river and told us all we now need to get a taxi. We protested and argued for ages but he wasn't having any of it. He just kept saying taxi! We didn't have a clue where we was- he flagged down a 'taxi' that was a scooter with a dodgy looking side car! We argued some more and he eventually started driving again.
He didn't have the slightest clue where he was going and kept driving around, then stopping and telling us to get out and get a taxi! Us and the two men kept arguing and telling him to drive but he didn't have a clue what he was doing. The two men got so annoyed that they eventually just shouted for him to stop and got out, not having a clue where they were or where to get a taxi! We stayed in and kept telling him to take us to the bus station that was near our accommodation. He drove a bit more then took us back to the same point in the middle of nowhere that he stopped at before, got out of the van and just wandered off.
Nath followed him asking him what he was doing and telling him that we had paid our ticket to be dropped off- not in the middle of nowhere! The guy just ignored Nath, sat down at a little hut and got some dinner from some Thai people that were gathered there. He just pretended that Nath wasn't there and ate his food!! A Thai man, that may have been the police, explained to Nath that the driver only gets paid until this stop so wouldn't go any further but that he would get us a taxi- great! Wasn't much we could do and pointless arguing anymore as it wasn't getting us anywhere. They guy told us how much the motorbike taxi would be and that he would get us one. The bus driver then came over and spoke in Thai to the other guy. The guy translated and told us that the mini bus driver would drop us off for 10 baht cheaper than the taxi. What a bloody scam!! I was pretty pissed off but just wanted to get to the accommodation now- so we had to pay it!
The mini bus driver driver drove around town for ages and kept asking for directions. He literally didn't have a clue what he was doing! Every time somebody gave him directions he just kept going the wrong way! Eventually a taxi driver on a scooter had him follow him to our accommodation. Eventually we were there after that joke of a journey!!
We were greeted by the owner, Joy, who showed us our room straight away. The whole accommodation was kind of open with just the rooms along the corridors enclosed. The rest of the building had no walls so was open. The room was very basic and looked a bit shabby but it was okay. It was literally just a box room with a bed and then a toilet and shower room. But what more did we need?!
We headed straight out to explore the area and got a map to see what was around. Everything didn't really look far, with the furthest been the bridge which was 3km. The bus station was literally a 2 second walk around the corner so we went to enquire about getting to Siem Reap, which we soon found out was impossible from here and we would have to go back to Bangkok. The first mini bus was at 4am but they do not seem very reliable so that didn't seem like a good idea! We found out the last bus was at 7pm so we decided we would go for that and then just stay up at the bus station in Bangkok and hopefully get a bus to siem reap the next morning. Not our smartest move! And we would need to check out a night early to get to Bangkok the night before we needed to set off. Kind of put a downer on things but had to do what needed to be done to get to Cambodia for my birthday which we had already booked!
We went out and walked the local area which didn't seem to have too much. It was pretty run down and there wasn't much there in terms of shops and things, everything just seemed to be closed. We walked to the war cemetery which was nice, but so sad. We started to find out a bit more about WWII and the effect it had on Thailand and Burma and the amount of British people that were killed here and became prisoners of war for japan, which was very sad but also surprising as we didn't know anything about this! We thought it would have been you would learn about back home as there was a huge amount of British. The cemetery was lovely and well looked after and was a gift from the people of Thailand to respect the people who lost their lives. This cemetery was the biggest war cemetery and was predominately British people. We looked in the book of remembrance of the people who had died and found someone with the surname Rodley, who strangely enough was from Batley! Coincidence or not, we don't know! I found the cemetery and story behind it so emotional that I had a good cry walking around reading the words on the headstones from family members.
After the cemetery we went to the Thailand-Burma railway centre, which was a museum about the war and the building of the death railway. It was so interesting and had lots of stuff to read and see, including some replicas and some actual remains of the bridge. There were real stories recorded too which was very interesting. We didn't have too long at the museum as it was shutting but we saw everything we needed to and it was definitely worth it!! We learnt quite a lot about the brutality and the awful imprisonment of so many people and the mass amount of people that lost their lives whilst been forced to build the railway, the reason why it is called the death railway.
After all this overload of information we had a little walk and found Nath a barbers to get his hair cut. We didn't think we would find one as there wasn't really much about! The women in the barbers didn't speak a word of English- or we didn't speak a word of Thai for that matter! He managed well enough to communicate though and get his hair cut, though they definitely kept talking about us in Thai and they would look and laugh at us! In the end it went well and she did a good enough job, was very precise- and it cost 80 baht!! £1.60- couldn't believe it!!
We walked back to the train station and had a nosy there and looked around the market that had set up for the night, had a few beers and relaxed. We then walked back to the market at the bus station near our accommodation for the night and found a vender that did beef steak and pork cheese and chips. We got the two dishes and shared- it was a lovely change and was very nice!! They also seemed to laugh at us and when asked for the toilet they just looked at me and then carried on what they were doing. Nobody was nasty to us and a lot of people were very smiley to us but there was no tourists in this area at all. I think people usually come for the day on trips and wouldn't be in this area. It was a nice change though from there been loads of tourists everywhere, even if we did stand out a little bit and get a lot of stares or laughs!
After dinner we headed back to the room with some drinks and Nath eventually after much perseverance managed to book tickets for the coach from Bangkok to Siem Reap online with a company that didn't seem so bad at all! Thank god for that!! And lucky he did that as there were only two more seats left after we booked so we wouldn't have got a ticket on the day and god knows what we would have done!! What an eventful mind blowing day today has been!