I have an idea for a travel website, which may or may not be unique enough to have a chance of being successful, and may or may not ever percolate high enough up my list of things to spend my time on to actually get done. But I enjoy thinking about travel, and the conceit that I might actually create this website is a convenient excuse to think about the places I've been.
One of the nights this week, I was thinking about my most memorable travel experiences. Earlier this year, I wrote a list of some of the coolest things I've done, which annoyed Hubby because I put koala patting on the list and not snorkeling in Aitutaki. I'll give him that the boat trips in Aitutaki are pretty amazing, so I suppose he has a point. But I really thought getting to touch a koala was cool.
Anyway, Hubby and I were having beers and talking about the places we've been, and what experiences were the best, most memorable, etc. I surprised him again by saying that Kanchanaburi was one of my favorite places we visited in Thailand. This town is not on the coast and is not in the famous north of Thailand. It was wonderfully low key, though, and most tourists stay in floating guesthouses on the river Kwai. I wished we had more time to sit on the deck of our room and enjoy the view.
History buffs (and movie buffs) will have guessed the reason Kanchanaburi is on the tourist map- it is the site of the Bridge on the Kwai. We visited the reconstructed bridge, but that was nowhere near as moving as visiting Hellfire Pass and the accompanying museum. This pass was a particularly difficult section of the infamous Death Railway that the Japanese attempted to build in WWII. This picture doesn't convey the experience of standing in that cutting, knowing that one man died for every railway sleeper laid. The sense of history and the sorrow that the place evoked with minimal memorials makes this one of the most memorable travel experiences I've ever had. It is a very different sort of experience than the others on my list, and a very different sort of experience than provided by the majority of our time in Thailand, but it is the sort of experience that makes the occasional indignities of travel worth the trouble. No book or movie could ever convey the emotion of being there.