We knew after our time in Cambodia, it would be hard for the rest of the trip to live up to that experience. Since I choose Cambodia, I let her pick something she would like to do and promised to make it happen. Our next stop was to Kanchanaburi, Thailand where the Bridge Over the River Kwai is located.
The next morning after arriving back to Bang Yai, we changed out our bags with new clothes keeping the necessities and set out for the bus station. Once we arrive at Sai Tai Mai, we immediately got on a mini-bus and were on our way. I forgot to mention to her that Thai drivers have a led foot and that these rides are not friendly to those who get carsick. Without Dramaine, we arrived in under two hours and feeling good. But, we both forget to save the name and address of our new hotel *Whoops*.
We are standing in the new bus station being bombarded by taxi drivers with no direction to give them. I quickly sprinted across the traffic to pay my phone bill so that we could attempt to look it up on my phone. We couldn’t access Tammy’s email and I had no bit of this info that I could find in my texts, Facebook messages or email. Finally, we figured it out and moments later we were in a songtao on the way to our hotel. Just a little bump in the road that was easily forgotten once we arrived to our new room in the middle of a Thai fairy garden. It had a very authentic feel with amazing flora all throughout the grounds. We quickly put on our suits to enjoy the last moments of sun by the pool.
We found a great place for dinner that was a few miles from our humble abode. We thought we could walk to the main road and quickly hop onto some form of transportation. After walking down an alley (that freaked Mom out) and making it to the main road, we realized this was a lost cause. Making our way back to the hotel, the front desk easily arranged a tuk-tuk for us. Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Dueng, was so precious! I kept saying “skrt-skrt” and laughing over bumps. He really got a tickle out of that. He even gave us his card so that we were insured we’d have a ride back.
It was just us and a long table of middle-aged men in the restaurant. It was so cute, because they were celebrating a birthday! Tammy was shocked the new the song in English, and we decided to cheer and sing along with them. They loved it. We headed home early time, as we had a BIG DAY the following morning.
Ok, I just want to start by saying this is one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences I have ever had. That sounds corny and cliche, but, my day at the Elephant Haven Thailand will go with me in my heart forever. They are such gentle giants. Basically, like GIGANTIC dogs, and yall know how I feel about dogs. There is just something about the feelings animals bring. They are just so pure, and true.
We started out the day by preparing their meal. Cutting baby watermelons and rolling balls of rice, meal and bananas. It is incredible how much these boo-boos eat! We started out feeding them bamboo and one just wacked me in the head with it while trying to situate the stem in her trunk in the most perfect position.
The best part of Elephant Haven Thailand is that all of their Elephants were former show Elephants or part of riding. Now they just roam-freely and do not have the torture of being chained up, caged and carrying uneducated tourist around a loop. When we were walking them through the forest, if Mali wanted to go off and do her own thing, they’d let her. Mali is the smallest, shy elephant who is weary of her fellow sisters.
We had our main guide, then a crazy, Elephant whisper. You could tell how much love he had for these animals. He reminded me of Rafiki from Lion King, wise but a kooky. Rafiki actually means friend in Sawhili and they is exactly what he was to these animals. He carried a bag of fruits and wandered the forest barefoot, fearless of the inevitable poop stepping. He’d always yell (rather sing), “isss okay, issss okay. No wooooorry, no worry, Mali.” At first we thought he was talking to us because we were moving out of their way, but he was soothing the elephants and guiding them through the forest and down to the river.
Some people swim with dolphins, psh, screw Atlantis. We swim with Elephants in the Noi Kwai. It was crazy how much they LOVED the water. They would roll over and dive all the way down until only the tips of their ears and trunks were visible.
It was so incredible, my mom will agree. We just talked about our photos for the rest of the trip and how much we missed them. It was incredible to be able to spend so much time with them in such a close up way in their own environment.
I once again experienced another, woah how small is the world moment. I heard a guy talking with a thick southern draw and thought he’s from where I’m from. Next time I turn my head I see him with a woman wearing a Carolina Gamecocks hat. You don’t see that in Thailand everyday. I gave her a quick Go Cocks! Soon after, we realized we both are College of Charleston Alumnus. She is living in Bangkok with her husband who is in the military. So wild! There was another mother daughter couple with us who were sweet as can be that we enjoyed conversating with.
The next day, was a little rainy on and off, but we made it work. We trekked around the museum before making our way to the bridge itself. It was weird most to me that people walked a little ways, took their selfie then went back. *Ugh, travel isn’t ALWAYS about the photo. Live a little* Tammy and I had a different philosophy and walked all the way to the end. When we made it, we saw something off in the distance that intrigued us, so we figured we’d check it out. It ended up being so cool. It was like a Chinese Cultural Center along the river, similar to the one I visited in Udon Thani. Bright and bold. We met the cutest dog along the way name Takatin or something. Her owner gladly let me stop to give her a quick belly rub.
As we made our way back over the bridge, we stopped and had a traditional Thai lunch along the river. We got stuck their for a little long than we wanted because of the storm, but better than sitting in a hotel room! On the stride back to our place, we walked through some shops, where Mom found the perfect beaded necklace for her next USC game outfit. I got coconut ice cream (of course) as my treat to myself. That evening we enjoyed a quiet dinner, strolls through the night market and an early night to sleep.
Back to Bangkok we go!
I just finished reading Greg Allman’s autobiography, as well as Joe Perry and now I’m getting started on Eric Clapton. I cannot stop listen to those told tunes. Here is a playlist that will take you back in time, I place I like to dream of.