March 2006 was a milestone for us in that we were celebrating 25 years together and had decided to retire. Another Explore! Worldwide trip called “Old Siam and the River Kwae” (pronounced “Kway” as in “sway”, not “Kwai” as in “eye”) served as a combined celebration. We were surprised by the amount of ancient monuments in Thailand and, despite something of an ancient culture overdose, we had a wonderful time with a good crowd thanks to an excellent local guide nicknamed “Wit” (pronound “Vit”). The ancient culture was diluted with a good smattering of Asian elephants in the form of an elephant sanctuary (made necessary by the stopping of the Thai logging industry) and two elephant hospitals (courtesy largely of land mines remaining from old war zones). Further elephants, wildlife and modern culture were provided by two nights in a splendid “Jungle Raft Hotel” on the River Kwae. We finished with an optional three days unwinding on Koh Samet island which, in truth, is a bit too beachy for us but there were some interesting photographic subjects to distract us. (Route on Google Maps)
Thailand has three seasons: winter, summer and wet. We were there in summer with temperatures hitting 38°C (100°F in old money). This required almost constant doses of three excellent Thai beers: Leo, Singha and Chang. The Thai people really are an absolute delight. They are certainly contenders for the “friendliest people on the planet” award. Everywhere we went we found them to be extremely helpful and were constantly greeted with joyful smiles.
(Apologies for this album being a little larger than usual – it was all such a novelty to us.)
|Bangkok – Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)
|Bangkok – Grand Palace
|Old Siam – Ancient Temples
|Rice Barge down the river Chao Phraya
|The island of Koh Samet