Three Weeks in Cambodia and Thailand

Old Dec 9th, 2022, 10:18 AM
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Dec. 9 - Bangkok

We head west today - destination: Kanchanaburi. Located just outside of the city is the Bridge over the River Kwai, built by the Western Allied prisoners of war under Japanese occupation during World War II. Kanchanaburi and the bridge sit at a strategic crossroad - the route to then-British Burma and China beyond it. As such, this area of western Thailand was contested between the two sides during much of the war and today is the home to cemeteries to the fallen as well as museums telling the story of this point in history.

We travelled to Kanchanaburi by train. The trip from Bangkok took more than three hours, although our third-class seats were more comfortable than the arrangement on our return from Ayutthaya yesterday. We enjoyed the breeze coming in from the open windows if the train car as rice paddies and sugarcane fields rolled by. There's a train station for Kanchanaburi itself although we continued onward to Kwai Bridge. Today's passenger station is just before the bridge.

We walked across the bridge rebuilt after the Allied bombings during World War II, to the other side. What we did not expect was to find a large statues of Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, standing tall on the other side of the river and visible from the bridge. We checked out the temple where Guanyin resides and paid our respects to her before coming back across the bridge.

Near the bridge is a World War II museum that offered exhibits about the battles that took place here as well as other exhibits related to Kanchanaburi and Thai history. We also visited the Thailand-Burma Railway Center, which went into more about the history of the bridge's construction and the lives of the prisoners of war who built it. Across the street is a cemetery where some of the Allied soldiers rest.

From here we ordered a Grab for a trip 20 minutes outside of Kanchanaburi center, to Wat Tham Suea, also known as the Tiger Temple. We arrived at the temple close to 5:00, so almost all of the visitors were gone. We enjoyed walking the temple grounds by ourselves, admiring the magnificent Thai-Chinese temple architecture and taking in the impressive statue of the Buddha seated and looking out to the Kwai River. After about 45 minutes, we headed to the bus station to catch our ride back to Bangkok.

The bus ride was smooth and the seats comfortable. Best of all, it only took two hours when the train took more than three.

We had a wonderful dinner at Suhring last night. The German-inspired dishes were delicious, fun, and engaging. I appreciated how effort was made at variety. There were takes on familiar German foods such as pork knuckle and currywurst but also items that were originally inspired. Nice touches were added throughout the evening to make for an even more enjoyable experience.
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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 08:17 AM
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Dec. 10 - Bangkok

We began our fifth and final day in Bangkok with a later-than-usual start, enjoying morning coffee on our balconies while watching the boats come and go on the Chao Phraya River below. (We are going to miss our beautiful room in a beautiful hotel.)

Our sightseeing agenda is lighter than usual. We revisited a couple of places we enjoyed on our prior trip to Bangkok. We spent our morning at Wat Benjamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple. Constructed our of Italian Carrara marble, it is the last temple to be commissioned by a Thai king in Bangkok. Wandering along the interior corridor of the main temple with its diverse Buddha statues and poses was a treat. The grounds, complete with bridges over a man-made canal, adds to the ambiance.

We also revisited Jim Thompson's home, the American soldier and spy turned purveyor of Thai silk. Touring the home was a pleasure as was browsing its shop. We spent the rest of our afternoon browsing and shopping from here, hopping among the various malls in this area. We made our way from the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center and MBK to Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, and Central World. We spent considerable time browsing the food halls in the basement of Siam Paragon and thoroughly enjoyed the holiday displays and street market at Central World. We were in food heaven!

Speaking of food, tonight's dinner was a special one for us, one that we've eagerly anticipated throughout our trip. We dined at Ministry of Crab, a Sri Lankan restaurant that specializes in the crustacean that recently opened an outpost in Bangkok. Boy, was the crab delicious!

Bellies full and hearts and minds filled with joy, happy memories, and spiritual bliss, an incredible trip to Cambodia and Thailand has come to a close. This is our first trip back to Asia in 7 years and to Southeast Asia specifically in 12. We had specific expectations for our trip, chief among it our experiences at Angkor. All of our expectations, not just in Angkor but elsewhere, were met and exceeded. As Buddhists, this trip, though not planned this way, became sort of a spiritual ones. I can safely say for our entire travel party that we came closer to our faith on this journey even though this did not even enter our minds several weeks ago. Travel endings are always bittersweet, and this trip is no exception.

Until next time...
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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 12:09 PM
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Thanks, tripplanner, I’ve enjoyed following along, particularly the Bangkok portion as, god willing & the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there at the end of next month’s long-awaited return to SE Asia. Despite multiple visits, there are lots of places I haven’t seen yet and have added some you’ve mentioned to the list of possibilities. Thanks again.

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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 10:37 PM
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It has been great following along. thank you for sharing. Agree that the end of any trip is a "bittersweet" time. Have you started planning the next trip yet? 😉
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Old Dec 11th, 2022, 01:40 PM
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MmePerdu, you’re welcome. Bangkok is one of those cities that is rich and varied enough that you will find something new each time you visit and depending on when you do. I enjoyed it much more on my second visit. Hope it will all work out for you.

crellston, thank you. We’ve started planning for Japan in May. Have a couple of alternatives in the works for around the same time, as nothing is certain these days.
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 10:48 AM
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What a treat to log on and find this waiting to be read.
Your report is concise, erudite, and you always find interesting places to visit. So helpful for those to come.
Many thanks for sharing.
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 01:01 PM
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Sartoric, you're welcome. Appreciate your feedback and advice as we planned this trip. You and others helped enhance our expectations and experiences.
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Old Dec 18th, 2022, 02:37 PM
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Thank you for your detailed and interesting report. We have visited many of the places in your report but certainly not all. You captured my love of the food too. I have to return!
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 11:31 AM
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HappyTrvlr, you're welcome. It was definitely a trip to remember. We're already thinking about coming back to the region.
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 04:49 PM
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tripplanner, what a pleasure to read your report! Your words really bring your experiences to life. I loved the variety of places you visited, remembering my own visits, as well as reading about other places and seeing them through your eyes. Your descriptions are superb! Thank you!
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 07:25 AM
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Progol, you’re welcome. I’m glad my report helped you recall happy memories.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2023, 01:20 PM
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I'm late to this party, but I've just read your TR now and thoroughly enjoyed it. Your descriptions are wonderful, and for a few minutes, I was there. Thank you!
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Old Jun 5th, 2023, 05:14 AM
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xyz99, you're welcome. Glad I was able to share my experiences with you.
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 11:00 AM
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Travel options

Hi Tripplanner
Thank you for your report on Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Although we have visited both cities several times, it is always interesting to get a new perspective on places. How did you travel between Sukathai and Chiang Mai and also around Chiang Mai ie Doi inthon etc?
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 05:09 PM
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Rasputin1, I hired drivers through a travel agency, the same one for both, based in Chiang Mai I believe. Sorry I don’t recall the name.
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Old Feb 19th, 2024, 05:34 AM
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Will be in Chiang Mai in about 10 days. Hope we can find a reliable Travel agency.
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Old Feb 21st, 2024, 06:53 PM
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We are heading to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai in November. Your wonderful trip report is an inspiration for our trip. I enjoyed all the details and took many notes. I wish we were able to spend as much time as you did and venture out to more places in the region.
Thanks so much for your take on such an interesting part,of the world.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2024, 04:22 AM
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TPAYT, you're welcome. Sometimes we may not have control over the amount of time we have to travel, but we make the most of it. I hope you have a wonderful time. Glad my report is of some help to you.
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