Monday, January 25, 2016

Myanmar Trip




“To wander is to be alive.”
Roman Payne,
Europa: Limited Time Edition


Mingalabar! My previous trip was to Myanmar for 7 Days, it was 30th November 2015 until 6th December 2015. Why myanmar? I have no idea :) 
The way I chose  my destination is random, I go when I feel like I really want to go to the place, by instincts perhaps. As usual, I have prepared things and research everything before the trip. Preparation is important if you travel solo or in groups. When I had a transit at Bangkok, there was two guys who had problems because they were heading to Vietnam, but they didn't have visa to enter Vietnam. Research is important, whether you need Visa or not, how much money needed, what is the currency, and of course you have to read and know things about the country you will enter. Each country has different rules, norms, and habits. 

Anyway, back to Myanmar Trip, I had my itinerary ready and already booked the hotel only at Mandalay first, because this time I wanted to just wing it. I'll be going to Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon, but I still have no idea how long will I stay at Bagan and Yangon. 



My first day was just in plane, taxi and bus. First, I went by plane (AirAsia) from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta Airport to Bangkok Don Mueang, about 3 and a half hours, transit for 2 hours and then to Myanmar, Yangon International Airport, which took about 1 and 45 minutes flight. It was already 7 pm when I arrived at Yangon, I went to the bus station, Aung Mingalar Bus Station from the airport by Taxi. The taxi driver charged me 13.000 kyat for the trip. I didn't know the average fare because the taxi didn't have argometer and when I read people's blog about their trip in Myanmar, they never mention the fare. I realized later on that I paid too much! It should be less than 10.000 kyat. Mind you, the taxis in Yangon don't have argometer so you have to bargain, always! They also forbid motorcycles, and the traffic is really bad, so you might have to be early if you don't want to be late. Also, people in Myanmar driving like they're in a fast and furious movie. 

Ticket to Mandalay

When I got to Aung Mingalar, the problem is the people can't speak English at all, I talked in English with body language and I point to the word Mandalay. They knew what I meant finally, but they kept talking in burmese language as if I understand. The trip to Mandalay is about 7-8 hours by bus, it was a regular bus with 10.800 kyat fare only with aircon and one water bottle. The bus left at 7.30 pm from Aung Mingalar Station. After a few hours we had one stop at Pioneer to eat. The closer to Mandalay the colder it gets. 

Rest Area
Then, I arrived at Mandalay at 8 am. I was kind of confused and nervous because the guy who help the driver said that we're not going to Mandalay but he didn't really speak English, it turned out I'm in the right bus. I spent my night on the bus like I planned to, and it was really tiring more than I can imagine but it was also really fun! Totally recommended to go by bus! on my research we can also go to Mandalay and Bagan by train, but the review were all bad, some said the train sometimes went out of the rail, so I decided to go by bus.

2nd Day - Mandalay

 Second day at Mandalay, I didn't went straight to the hotel since it was still 8 AM, too early to check in. I arrived on a bus station near Mandalay, just a few km from Mandalay, can be reached by motorcycle or taxi. I went with a guide by motorcycle around Mandalay Area,First destination is the famous Mahamuni Pagoda, second destination is Kuthodaw Pagoda, located near the bus station outside Mandalay.

Mahamuni Pagoda

 When I went to Mahamuni Pagoda, they were doing procession of prayer, only the men allowed to be near Buddha Statue, the women has to sit outside the area. 

Mahamuni Pagoda
Kuthodaw Pagoda also located outside Mandalay, but not too far, approximately 15 to 20 minustes with Motorcycle.

Kuthodaw Pagoda

View from HsinByuMe Pagoda
And then to Hsin Byu me Pagoda. It is located in a hill, a lot of stairs to go up to enter the temple. 

The stairs to HsinByume Pagoda

The temples mostly look the same, the most interesting part is the nature surrounding the temples or the view from the temples. If you enter the pagoda, you have to enter it barefoot and you have to wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants or skirt. Third destination is my favorite place, U Bein Bridge. 
U-Bein Bridge

The Bridge is made by woods, nothing special about the bridge, burmese around the bridge and some on the bridge selling food and merchandise. The most interesting about U Bein Bridge is the view of the lake. It was amazing, even on the middle of the noon. It must be pretty amazing at sunset or sunrise. 

another view from U Bein Bridge
As you can see, you can ride the wooden boat on the side of the bridge. 

an evening at Ubein Bridge

 On the picture above, you can see a burmese woman carrying things above her head. Women in Myanmar mostly still use their traditional clothes, long skirt, simple yet truly burmese.

Afterward, I went to the hotel to check in and rest for a while. Then I went to Mandalay Hill for sunset. Again, with a lot of stairs to climb! On Mandalay Hill, I met a student who's learning in Monastery. He's still young and not yet to be a monk, he speaks a really good English and eager to know about things outside Myanmar. He explained the the rules in Monastery and the meaning of the Buddha statue on Mandalay Hill. 
There's no entrance fee to enter Mandalay Hill, but you have to pay 2000 kyat if you have a camera or phone with camera with you. From the top of Mandalay Hill, you can see sunset and the view of whole Mandalay. That was also my favorite. 

Sunset from Mandalay Hill

From what I learned, there are a lot of small villages in Myanmar that doesn't have school, or they only have primary school and the education fee at Myanmar is so expensive and not people can afford it, so one of the option is to enter monastery, the provide free education but you have to follow monastery rules, such as, shave all your hair, wearing clothes like monks. The boy that I met told me that they love to go to Mandalay hill every sunset every day to speak with tourists, it's like English class for them. Despite of the condition they live in, they still eager to learn, I was quite impressed.

with the Monastery student
From Mandalay Hill, I plan to walk to the hotel since it's not really far and I would walk by the palace. I went out at 7.30 PM, on the middle of the way, a motorcycle with three men stopped me and they laughed, then an old man called me from a motorcycle, he said that it's dangerous for women to walk alone at night at Mandalay. It turns out women are not supposed to be out at night alone at Myanmar. I was quite surprised, because nobody write it on the travel blog. 

Anyway, Mandalay Hill was quite amazing for the day. I figured that I'll be going to Bagan on the morning and I bought bus ticket to Bagan at the hotel. The bus fare is 9800 kyat, 10.000 with a water bottle. 

3rd day - Bagan

In the morning, someone pick me up to a bus to Bagan. It was a small bus without aircon. The trip is about 6 hours, I arrived at Bagan at 2 PM. Bagan is my favorite part of the trip. Totally adventure!! I stayed at Nyaung UU, about 10 km from Old Bagan. There are a lot of electric Bike and bicycles rent around the area, I rent a bicycle for two days, with 3000 kyat. All I have is a map from the hotel, but the way to old and new Bagan is quite easy, just follow the main road. Although, if you rent an electric bike it might be okay, but to go by a bicycle, it was a hard work! since the road is up the hill or down with the high speed vehicles on your side! sounds dangerous, but it was fun when you get used to it, the first time, well, I was quite afraid because the cars always honk when they want to pass you. You might get a little bit jumpy at the beginning but if you stay on your side of the road, it was fine. 

Or maybe I was nervous since it was my third time on a bike! :D At Bagan, you're totally surrounded by nature, green trees, it was really nice! Along the way to Old and New Bagan, you will find several temples. 
You can go inside the temple and see around bagan. 

on a top of a temple at Bagan



Again, to enter the pagoda you need to be barefoot and wear shirt with sleeves and long pants or skirts. Also be careful since it was really dark inside the pagoda. I felt like I was entering a pyramid! Oh my, it was so exciting :) 

View from the top of pagoda

Here is the picture of me and my Bicycle which I considered my best friend back then! We travel together for almost about 20 km a day for two days in a row! The air was quite cold but because I ride a bike that doesn't really matter.

At old Bagan, I met a really nice lady who sells water and tanaka. Tanaka is the cream they used on the face, to make the skin good. At least that's what they said. 

Me and the nice lady
 I also took a video of her making tanaka for me, please click this link to see the video on my instagram! tanaka making

gate to Old Bagan
I passed the gate 10th times maybe, I lost count since I went back and forth. 

Thattbinyu temple
Thattbinyu Temple is the first temple that you saw if you go left after the big gate. Then you can follow the road from there and it will lead you to Shwesandaw Pagoda, the most famous temple at Old Bagan for sunset. 


Shwesandaw Pagoda

My expectation was too high for Shwesandaw. I didn't see the sunset since the weather was cloudy and it was too crowded with tourists. Also, to enter Shwesandaw you have to pay for 20.000 kyat per person which I found unreasonable, although they said then you don't have to pay if you enter pagodas at bagan. But the thing is, I did enter some of pagodas without paying entrance fee. I didn't think 20.000 kyat is worth it. 

view from the top of Shewsandaw

I decided to went back to Nyaung uu because it was 1-2 hours of bicycle ride from old Bagan to Nyaung Uu. It was getting dark and my bike didn't have lamp on it! :D 

4th day - Bagan 

I woke up early in the morning in the hope to see floating hot air balloon. But it was raining really hard, so no hot air balloon for me. Decided to wait until the rain stop, but it didn't! so I decided to still go in the light rain since it was my last day at Bagan, again with my bestie. :D 

Shwezigon Pagoda

The first pagoda on the way is Shwezigon Pagoda. It was a big area and on the entrance there are a lot of people selling merchandise. I had a bad experiences in here. First, one of the seller forced me to take something that she said was a gift. Then when I came out, she already put my shoes in front of her stall. She forced me to buy the things that she sells, when I said no, she said I already took the gift so I have to buy something. I was quite surprised, then I returned it to her. so just precaution for backpackers, if you don't  want to buy something from the stall, don't accept anything. 
Inside the pagoda, there are two women standing outside Buddha statue and told me to pray to Buddha. they gave me flowers to put on the hand of the Buddha. I thought that I only had to pay for the flowers, but they asked me 5000 kyat per person for that! Another surprise! It's not about the money actually, but the way they did it. 
entrance to Anandha Phaya Temple

Anyway, I continue my way to Ananda Phaya, which I think as the most beautiful one. Ananda Phaya looks like a castle in fairy tales. 


ananda phaya
So, this is it, I went to Yangon with VIP night bus charged 18.500 kyat with aircon, wide space to sleep in, blanket and head pillow! It was really nice! The bus left at 9 PM and arrived at Yangon at 5.30 AM, they picked us up to the bus station from the hotel. Again, it is better to buy the ticket from the hotel.
Please do check my Instagram for more pictures! elisabetpingkan 

 oh wait, here's some pictures at Yangon. 



Yangon Park

Temple at Yangon



and this!! the best KFC I ever taste!! :)

KFC at Myanmar <3



Friday, August 28, 2015

Movie Tie In and Original Books

Hello :)

I'm going to explain about the differences of Movie tie in book and original books.

So, I went to a bookstore yesterday to buy Paper Towns by John Green. Since I couldn't find the book, I asked the store keeper and he gave me two editions, the movie tie in and original book. I never notice before about movie tie in and original. I just thought that  the book with the movie cover was published recently.

I think this is a good information if you're into reading so much, and I'm so glad the store keeper told me and heal me of my blindness.

 Let me get it straight for you.

Movie Tie In Books

1. The cover is based on the Movie
     If you love the movie and the actor so much, you would love this edition.
Original Cover
 
Movie Tie In Cover Version

2. There are additions from the movie on the book
     The book might include Cast interviews or some pictures from the movie scene.

3. They might change the story
     This is rarely happen. Usually they just change the covers, and the story or details stick to the original. I
     honestly haven't find a movie tie in book with different details and story with the original.
     I bought some Movie tie in books, Unbroken, Carrie, Traveling to Infinity, Railway Man, Something    Borrowed. These are the examples of Movie tie in books that only change the cover only.
     But, I do bought Love, Rosie Movie tie in book by Cecilia Ahern. The story in the book is different with the movie, but they change the cover and the title. The original title was Where Rainbows end.

     From my research, the movie tie in is not changing the story, if it changes the story according to the movie, it will be called Movie Novelization.  

Movie tie in with name changed

Original cover with original title

Original Books

However, I do comfortable with some of movie tie in books but I might prefer the original books. They cost more expensive than the movie tie in sometimes.
Ex. Paper Towns original books is 135K and the Movie Tie In is 98K.

I prefer to read it as it is, before the movie and before the casts.

But overall, Movie tie in books are not really bad at all. But please do check before buying if it's any differences between the Movie Tie in and original.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Solo Backpacking tips

I'm back with tips for solo backpacking! :D

Okay, I had 4 backpacking trips before, to Bangkok twice, the first trip I couldn't get the full experience of Bangkok because of demonstrations and Riots, Second trip I went with BTS and by foot only from Saphan Kwai to Siam. Third, I went to Bali, Petitenget, Ubud, Legian Kuta. Fourth, I went to Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

I am a solo traveler. Why? I just love travel alone, I call it my 'me time'. It's the time when I escape from routine and a time when I can do everything I want, have my own schedule, decide what I want to go or do, what to eat. And of course, I can meet a lot of people along the way. So far, I've met Spanish, Italian, French, and Germany. I also met Thai people. It's incredible to chat with them, besides practicing my english speaking, they shared some information of their hometown, their country, how they live and also I learn some new languages.

I must admit that being a backpacker is not as easy as it looks. But, trust me it's really fun and exciting! Well maybe, bacpacking is not for everyone. You have to put up with the conditions, you can get dirty, you obviously going to be sweaty if you're traveling in a tropical country. You have to be able to walk everyday and in a long distance with your backpack. But, you also find things that you won't find in a tour. Like for example, when you walk you might pass some interesting buildings or museums or markets that you didn't know and not in the attraction list. And you can stop by to see those things since you're not in a bus, or in a tour. Another advantage is that you will know the way to a lot of places because you look in the map and you figure out by yourself where to go.

When I got home after my backpacking trip, I burned my skin and my shoulder was stiff after carrying my backpack. My feet got scratches and hurt because of a long walk. No, it's not pretty but trust me, it's worth it!

So, here it is!

1. Do a research about the country you will visit
    You have to know the season of the month you visiting, also find out about the language they're speaking. You don't have to learn the language, but if it's the country with a lot of tourist, mostly the native know english. But like some countries, they are not familiar with English, like France or Japan.

2. Itinerary
    Make your own itinerary, no need for a precise timeline. A list for day 1, etc is enough. Then you know where you have to go. For solo travelers I don't suggest the 'Just wing it' type. It's better to know your destination before you get off the plane. I did my itinerary but along the way I changed the destinations if I found other interested place or usually I added some places after I arrived in the location. The itinerary is only your references.

2. Budget Plan
    Find out where you going to stay or book first on the website. I didn't book before since I want to move places, but it was a nightmare. I ended up on a bad one because everything was full booked. It's better to find out where you're going to stay first, you can see the pictures and review on the website, what attraction it is located in, and you can find out if the place is near the rail station or bus terminal. Since you're traveling solo, you need to make sure your own safety, right?
If you want to move places to stay according to where you are that day, you still can book the place before. That way you can also put it in the budget since you know how much you're going to spend for a night.
 Ex. I'm going to Myanmar, I will arrive in Yangon and at night I'm going to Mandalay by bus, the trip is overnight, so I don't need to book anything for day one, but I booked a place to stay on day 2 since I'm staying in Mandalay.
I also do research for the food prices, so I can count my budget for meal. Usually I added it up in case it's more expensive.
Ex. 700 kyat is the food price in Myanmar. I put it 1000 kyat. 1000x3 times a day = 3000 kyat x 5 days = 15.000 kyat
That goes the same for Public transportation. I find out what bus or train I should take and which one is better. People's reviews are important. And also the prices for transportation.
You also need to search for the attraction fee, how much is the price.
Also prepare a budget for gifts if in case you want to by some.
An example of my Itinerary and Budgeting Plan


2. Find out the currency
    I always prepare the currency of the country I will visit before I go. But if the currency is not available on your hometown, you have to exchange your money in the airport when you arrive or in the city. It is important to find out the currency and where is the best place for exchanging money. Because some country won't accept your country currency. I always prepare some cash of my country currency for emergency case.
Ex. for Indonesian to go to Myanmar we have to exchange our currency to USD and they exchange USD to Kyat in Myanmar.

3. Do some research on places you want to visit.
    Some of the attraction have do's and dont's. There are rules to be obeyed and as a traveler, that doesn't mean you're ignorance. Rules made for your own safety so make sure to obey it as we're not in our country.
It is important to know beforehand so you can prepare your clothes before your trip. 
Ex. in tiger temple Kanchanaburi, visitors aren't allowed to wear bright colors since it would provoke the tigers to attack. In Wat Arun, you have to wear decent clothes, no short pants or tank tops.

4. Prepare a map
    You can buy before the trip or just buy it in the airport or bookstore in the place you visit. Usually the tourist sections at the airport will give you free map. Trust me, map is your loyal friend when you travel. It helps a lot, (well also google maps) and if you asked some local people and they don't speak english, you can point the map and they can show you the direction or might be better they can tell you what public transportation you can take!
On my last trip to Kanchanaburi I  used map and google maps. They worked well together. I knew the location of the places from the map and I know how long it took to walk or by bike to the destination.

Me and My map at Kanchanaburi


5.  Prepare your backpack
    I always pack my stuff on a night before I go. Make sure you're travel light. You don't have to bring a lot of clothes,  for 5 days I just bring 3 tops and 2 pants. You have to choose your clothes based on the season and the attraction do's and don'ts.
Ex. If you want to visit waterfall, better pack your swimsuit.
Also, you have to know flight regulations. It doesn't really matter if you put it in the baggage but it you bring your bag with you on the plane, you have to make sure all liquid is under 100ml and total maximum liquid is 1000ml. That's the general rule, but for some airlines they have maximum weight of a bag, ex. Airasia only allowed 1 carry on bag with 7 kg maximum weight while Tigerairs allowed 2 carry on bags with total 10kg maximum weight.


6. Make friends
   This might be my favorite part. Along the way you will find another travellers or backpackers. The first opening sentence would be Hello/ hi, where are you from? and Voila! you got friends!

7. Be aware
    Be aware of your surroundings. Remember there are a lot of criminals and bad people. Bring your passport, money identity card, electronic stuff, flight itinerary with you all the time. That's your life line while you travel.
Be aware of what you drink and eat when you eat with another people you just knew. Never eat or drink if it's given not by the seller or the restaurant.
Also prepare your personal medicine before the trip. I always bring medicine for flu, anti allergic, and bandages (Hansaplast) and body spray to keep bugs away (mosquitoes and etc) 

8. Get lost
    Get lost somewhere! It is amazing! I've tried wing it from Thonburi station to Siam. I didn't know where to go but I know what transportation I should take. Getting lost sometimes has its merits. You find interesting things you didn't know before. For a backpacker, you gotta have the 'No panic situation', just stay calm when you get lost, you definitely will find your way out in the end, just think of it as a challenge. Anyway with map you won't get lost too far.

Enjoy the backpacker's life!! :)






    


Monday, August 24, 2015

Backpacker's Note : Death Railway Museum, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery & JEATH museum

Ola!

So, on this post I will talk about Death Railway Museum, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and JEATH Museum. They are located in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.


DEATH RAILWAY MUSEUM 
  
Death Railway Museum or The Thailand Burma Railway Center is located in T.B.R.C. Co., Ltd
73 Jaokannun Road, BanNua, Amphoe Muang, Kanchanaburi. It opens from 9 AM to 5 PM. 

To go to this museum you can use the bus from Kanchanaburi Bus terminal heading to erawan or hellfire pass, the route will pass the museum. Or by foot and bike since it's not so far from the bus terminal, maybe 10-15 minutes walk. But from River Kwai Bridge, it's quite far and no bus, only taxi, or bike. By taxi or Bike from the bridge, it takes 20-30 minutes time. 

Death Railway Museum

You can find the instructions and map in here  

The admission fee is 140 Baht for adults. (slight increased from the visitor Informations on the Website)

You also get free coffee or tea after you finish your visit. You can exchange the coupon on the cafe upstairs. 
They also sell books about River Kwai, posters, pins, caps, shirts, postscards of River Kwai and The Thailand Burma Railway Center and also flowers if you want to put it in the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery afterward. 

Anyway, I don't have any pictures of the museum, since it is prohibited to take any pictures inside. The museum also provide full tours, the guide will assist you along the way and explain everything about the railway. 



History Tours By Museum



I really recommend History lovers and people who are curious about The railway, and PoWs to visit this museum. The museum contain a lot of information about the railway and PoW. We also can see a 10 minutes video replay all the time of Japanese officers and ex-PoWs interviews. 

They also have the famous statue of 3 PoWs, two PoWs carried a PoW who had Cholera but the Japanese still forced him to work until he was unconscious and had to be carried to the camp hospital. 

a statue based on the image drawn by Australian POW Ray Parkin of ‘Two Malarias with a Cholera’ (Photo Credit : Remembering the Railway )

The Museum also has remaining things of PoWs and a replica of Hellfire Pass. 
I cannot express perfectly what I felt that time. I was sad, heartbroken, I cried a few times because it was so barbaric and how I think of PoWs who had families and loved ones, and the way they lived and died. I just couldn't believe how human treat others like that. But at the same time I was ecstatic to be in the museum, I've always wanted to come here since 2014, and this visit to the museum made everything clear to me. It's different when you just read the books. They were just names, but when I came to the site (Hellfire pass and museums) and I saw their personal things, They weren't just names. Somehow they felt close to me, it's like I know them personally. Also I can imagine clearly what happened at that time. 

The museum has 2 floor. 1st floor is the lobby and you can buy gifts there, inside there are the Cholera Statue, the Locations of PoW camps, the video room, the replica of PoW inside the train from Singapore to Thailand, replica of Camp Hospital and many more. The 2nd floor, there are replica of Hellfire Pass, PoWs Personal things and clothes, Reseach room and also the cafe. You can also find books and postcards inside the cafe. You can access the research room but you have to ask the museum officers first. You can also buy a copy of a PoW's diary by donating 3000 baht or so to the museum. 

Inside the cafe, I chose a seat facing toward the cemetary, Kanchanaburi War cemetery and reading a book by PoW, the title is Hintok Cutting, the book is filled with his pictures of the forced labor in Railway. 

Museum Restaurant

Personally, I think the books prices are quite high in the museum. Might be too expensive for books. 
Anyway, the trip to this museum is very recommended! Don't forget to bring tissues if you visit the museum, prepare for the emotional wave coming :) 

so, after I went to The Death Railway Museum, the trip won't be completed if I didn't visit Kanchanaburi War Cemetery which located just across the museum. There's no admission fee, but you can buy some flowers if you want to put it inside. 

KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY


The cemetery located in Saengchuto Road, Kanchanaburi. How to get here is the same as to Death Railway museum, you can find the instructions above. 

Kanchanaburi War Cemetary



The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.
KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY is only a short distance from the site of the former 'Kanburi', the prisoner of war base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to other camps. It was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the southern section of railway, from Bangkok to Nieke.
Some 300 men who died (most from a Cholera epidemic in May/June 1943) at Nieke camp were cremated and their ashes now lie in two graves in the cemetery. The names of these men are inscribed on panels in the shelter pavilion.
There are now 5,084 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. There are also 1,896 Dutch war graves.
 (Sources : Kanchanaburi War Cemetery )


I cried so hard when I read the words and explanation and after I saw the graves (I am such a crybaby). They were so young. The thoughts of their dreams and life was ripped out by another human is so devastating and unbelievable, but it did happened. 

These are the pictures of the graves. I don't think I need to give much explanation, do I?

One of the Grave that made me cry






 By making this blog, I want to spread the words about this tragedy, a world tragedy that happened. So in the future there won't be another victims, there won't be another A.L Wiggs. I hope that their name would never be forgotten and we always remember them and the tragedy. Not to spread hatred toward the enemies (Japanese and German), but to always make sure that their sacrifice is paid by peace. 


JEATH MUSEUM

This Jeath Museum is different from the previous Jeath and War Museum. This museum only about Prisoners of War who were in Thailand Burma forced labor. 

Section 1

It is sad to say that taking pictures also prohibited in this museum. But I have several pictures though, not in details but I just want to capture the condition of the museum. 

The Museum is located in Wat Chai Chumpon Temple, in Saengchuto road 27. It is located near the police station and the bus terminal. You can find it in Kanchanaburi map, the location is pretty clear.

The admission fee is 40 baht. The JEATH War Museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

There are 3 sections in the museum. First the section of PoWs Hut, there are painting of PoWs life condition during the forced labour. They said it was capturing the real condition. 



Section 2 is where they keep the bomb used by the allied to bomb the bridge but instead it hit the river and also another weapons and bullets. 


 Section 3, a room with articles of PoWs, Thailand Burma Railway. 

I don't exactly know why I interested in PoWs stories, but maybe because I can find hope in their stories. That when they had a really hard life, they held on and still resisted and they still want to live. I also find the PoWs are amazing, since I've read some stories that they re conciliated with the guards that tortured them. I still can believe it actually. It was like miracle to truly forgive people who made your life miserable. 

Anyway, I was really satisfied of this trip. This trip is not just about traveling, it's about life, people, hope, tragedy and of course history. I learned a lot from this trip. What can I say? This is the most unforgettable trip ever :)

Auf Wiederhaesen :)


 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Backpacker's Note - Erawan Waterfall

Sawadeekaa readers,

Back again to my third days in Kanchanaburi. I decided to go to Erawan Waterfall after I saw some reviews and Pictures on Google.

I went to Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal located in the back of Tourism Thailand Authority at 8.30 am. The bus to Erawan non air con only is 50 Baht. The bus will take you to the gate of Erawan.You have to buy the ticket first before you get in the bus.

Erawan Waterfalls (65 km)
non air-con bus bus no. duration fare
8170 1.5 hrs. 50 Baht

Kanchanaburi - Erawan Falls: 8:00 AM to 5:20 PM - every 50 minutes
Last bus back at 4:00 PM!

Since The bus departed on 9.30, I went to the market across the terminal to have some breakfast. I don't remember the restaurant's name, but the food was so delicious. I ate crispy pork with sweet and sour sauce. It was the most delicious pork I've ever taste.

Restaurant across the Terminal


The food was 40 Baht.

So after approximately 1.5 to 2 hours trip (The view was also amazing, we passed a big dam), I finally arrived at the welcome gate of Erawan Falls. We didn't get off here, the bus took us to the final gate.

Erawan National Park

Hiking starting point starts from here. From 1 to 4 step of waterfall, the hiking trail is made of road so it's quite easy and everybody can do it with slippers or decent shoes. From 4 to 7 step of the waterfall, there's no road just trails, wood trails, but it's not really hard if you often exercised. You will pass rocks and waters on the way. I've read the reviews, that you have to wear decent shoes and to get to the 7 step it might take you almost two hours. I find the reviews exaggerating a bit though. No offense, I reached the 7 step in 45 minutes and I stopped all the steps to take photos. And yes, you'll be more comfortable wearing decent shoes but I used slippers after I got back to 7 step because I was wet after swimming in the 7 step and I want to swim again in every step of Erawan. The hike is not too hard, I think everybody can make it to 7 step of Erawan but you have to be careful since you have to pass a broken bridge and broken stairs.

So, let's start on the 1 step of Erawan Falls.

The 1 step is not too crowded and nobody swims there but the first view is beautiful with the turquoise water. 



After 5 minutes walk, I arrived at the 2 step of Erawan Falls, this is the most crowded step. Some called it the most beautiful step. But my favorite was the 7 step. 

Stairs to 2nd Step




The 3 step is a bit far from the 2 step. We passed the bridge to the 3 step. To go to the 3 step, you have to deposit your drinking bottle to the counter or you put it in the counter, each bottle is 20 baht. You can get your money back once you're back and bring your bottles. The purpose is to avoid visitors to throw bottles or trashing the place.

Bridge to 3rd Step

3rd step


Next, to the 4 step of Erawan Fall. On the 4 step you can slide down the rocks. It's quite crowded because of the sliding rock. From 4 to 5, the trail will be closed on 4.30. Make sure to get there early since you would want to swim around after the hike.

sliding rock

4th step

Head on to the 5 step of Erawan Falls, starting from here the trails is a little bit harder. We have to cross a bridge to the 5 step. Don't worry, the bridge is in good condition.

Bridge to 5th step

On the 5 step, you can relax and sit on a tree across the river.



The waterfall in the 5 step is not big but if you want to swim around, this one is a good location since it's really wide and not too hard to get to the other side.

The trail to 6 step is getting harder. These are some of the pictures, and there's no sign but you won't get lost since the trail is only one and a lot of people go there.

Walking through the rocks

The Hike

To go to 6 step you have to pass a broken bridge. I passed it and somehow it's still strong despite the broken part.

Broken Bridge to  6th Step

The 6 step is a tiny waterfall, it will just take you like 5 minutes to take pictures.






The road to 7 step. Here later on you pass a water stream and either you walk on the water or you jump to one rock to another or you can climb the rocks on the side of the stream. I didn't have the picture because it was so crowded.

Hike To 7th Step


White Rocks on 7th Step

In my opinion, the 7 step is the most beautiful with white rocks and turquoise water. 

 
7th Step

If you want to swim on the waterfall, don't forget to bring swim suit and also don't be afraid of the fishes. The fishes only biting your dead skin cells, usually on your feet, but if you have any wound it's better to cover it since it will attract the fishes and it's totally uncomfortable if they get to your wound. From what I read, Prisoner of Wars in WWII used to heal their wound with the fish bites.

Fishes  biting on the dead skin cell

Also, the rocks are quite slippery so be careful when you step on it.

After swimming around, I take a break on 2 step because there are rest places made of bamboo and a stall that sell foods and drinks. Lay around with the river view is a very relaxing experience.

Chilling out on the river side


Then to get back to Kanchanaburi, I took the bus outside the gate, where the previous bus took us before. The fare is 50 baht, remember the last bus is at 4 pm!