Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi
Our trip was nearing its end so we had to head back south, breaking the journey in Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi on the way. Our accommodation in K-town, the R.S. Hotel, was a standard business type affair but the kids wanted a pool. I was starting to get an ear infection from swimming in brown rivers! We headed out to the famous railway bridge over the River Kwae and investigated taking the train trip up the valley to Nam Tok, it was another dual priced affair and didn’t get back until mid afternoon, too late for us.
Leaving early the next morning we took the hellish 323 highway to Ratchaburi, fortunately the weekend warriors hadn’t started to head back yet and traffic was light. Staying at the Tara Spa Hotel on the river turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The place was just geared up for selfie obsessed hi-so weekenders using the spa, it was not really designed as a hotel, everything closed after the day trippers left.
Close by was a local attraction called Khao Ngu Stone Park so we paid it a visit, passing a row of ignored signs warning about fines for feeding the monkeys, and people selling monkey food. Being one of the few free entry places it was absolutely rammed, you could barely get past the forest of smartphones held aloft as if in prayer to some all seeing selfie god. The place was quite stunning visually and some efforts had gone into preserving the wildlife there, it was just a shame to see trash and plastic floating among the koi carp and aquatic life. Deciding to opt out of the hotel restaurant, which was more of a swanky snack bar that wouldn’t serve beer, we headed into a rather desolate and quiet provincial center of Ratchaburi for some Vietnamese food.
It is always good to get away and discover new places but travel in Thailand has changed a lot in the last year or two. Maybe I’ve noticed it more having just spent six months in the UK. Thailand is no longer a cheap country to travel in, the past 6 days on the road cost just over 20,000 baht ($600), and we only stayed in 2-3 star places and ate local food. Another observation is that there were very few western tourists at any of the places we went to – tourism now appears to be 95% domestic. And I don’t need to mention the endemic dual pricing that seems to have taken over pretty much every establishment or attraction in Thailand, though this could be a result of fewer farangs. Final travel tip is don’t bother going anywhere within 5 hours of Bangkok at the weekend!