Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kanchanaburi's Tiger Temple and the Bridge on the River Kwai

Forget the night life and the shopping malls that Thailand is famous for - more than anything else, while in Bangkok, you must make it a point to visit Kanchanaburi's Tiger Temple and the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Be warned that language is a huge issue in Thailand, especially with the locals. We have no clue what they are nodding their heads for and they smile a lot, which complicated things. Our taxi driver took us to some temple, where they said, "Tiger no more, temple close." We put our foot down and refused to pay him unless he took us to the real temple. Finally, after much asking around, we found the place just in time. In all, we spent close to a good couple of hours driving through the heat. We badly wanted to make it for the tiger cubs feeding session, where you can feed them yourself. But thanks to our dude, we missed it. Nevertheless, we decided to go see the Big Cats. We were not disappointed, but were left in awe of these magnificient babies.

The Buddhist monks hand raise these orphaned big cats and hence these massive boys have no fear of humans. Lines of excited tourists queue up to take pictures with these beautiful creatures, while the monks ensure that they keep chatting up to keep the beasts distracted. It's a wonderful experience and rare too.

However, the monks can get pushy with the Cats trying to show them off to the public. Atleast that's what my family and I felt. The cats were too tired because of the blistering heat and were trying to rest, but the monks would not let them rest. They kept pulling their mouth wide open, made the tourists sit down and pose with the tigers lying down on their lap, and many more such annoying antics. Who wants all that! Let the beasts sleep, I wanted to scream. By then, we were disgusted and had enough and decided to make a move. But however, inspite of this small drama, I will seriously recommend it as a must visit for any traveller in Bangkok.

Next important stop should be the Bridge on the River Kwai. If you have seen the movie, then you will understand the significance of this bridge. This is believed to be the original bridge built during World War II by British soilders of war captured by the Japanese troops. In the movie, the bridge was actually built in Srilanka and blown up. The movie was a blockbuster hit and generated a world wide interest increasing the influx of tourists into Thailand, who flocked to see the bridge. However, there a number of conflicting theories about the signifcance of this Bridge and its contribution to history.
But we were only too excited to see the Bridge. I had always dreamt of seeing the Bridge atleast a dozen times. So I was only too happy to be there. There is also a toy train that takes you for a couple of minutes ride from one end of the bridge to the other end. That was fun.

To put it short, you travel through history and you experience the feeling of being transported to a different time. Reality can wait for a while.


Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to visit Thailand. I will one day. You are real lucky. :)


AquaM said...

Yup. My SIL did a lot of homework!