My Birthday Weekend in Kanchanaburi

I constantly hear people say, “do it while you can!” or “do it while you’re still young.”  When I started telling people I was moving to Thailand, these were the go-to phrases from some older co-workers and family friends. These statements used to drive me crazy. I never wanted to have the mentality I couldn’t go after a dream because of my age or because my responsibilities were “in the way.” Obviously there’s more to it than just the drive to accomplish something.  Life takes off right before your eyes and you don’t even realize it’s happening.

I’m officially 24 and I have friends that are engaged, married, some even have kids.  I feel like my Mom when I say this but really… where did the time go?! It feels like just yesterday when I got my drivers license and made my Dad drive us home from the DMV because I didn’t feel like driving anymore (true story). I know if I decided to wait another month or two to leave for Thailand, it would’ve been even harder to go.  Would I have still gone? I have no idea! It would’ve been another month or two weighing options for my next move.  It could’ve been new responsibilities that would’ve made it harder to leave.

As I celebrated my 24th birthday in Kanchanaburi, I felt thankful. I’m still young and I’m doing “it while I can.”  Life is precious and responsibilities change, but today, you’re the youngest you’ll ever be and you better Carpe Diem!
IMG_1175Kanchanaburi is nothing short of magnificent.  I had the most amazing time exploring, hiking, swimming, and relaxing. On Friday morning I checked into my hotel near the River Kwai Bridge (very famous – more on that later!) and walked around.  I stumbled into a book store, grabbed a fruit smoothie, walked through the market vendors, and took a nice long nap. That afternoon I decided to treat myself to an oil massage.  My birthday weekend was already off to a great start.

I woke up early Saturday and joined an excursion group through Kanchanaburi Travel Center.  I highly recommend it.  They didn’t do anything to “wow” me but Kanchanaburi is pretty big and I was able to see all of the major places without the hassle of figuring out transportation in a new city.

1. Erawan Waterfalls

There are 7 different waterfall levels and all are stunning.  The water is a beautiful aqua-ish/turquoise color and somehow still fairly clear.  Clear enough you can see the little fish sucking on your feet. Not kidding, the fish in the pools are the same ones you see at popular night market “fish pedicure spas.”  It’s gross, but, the fish eat your dead skin and it tickles uncontrollably. There is a natural water slide made by a huge boulder and I was on a mission to slide down it.  I jumped in, swam faster than I probably ever have, climbed up the rock, slid down, and swam as fast as possible to get out of the water. If I weren’t ticklish, I could’ve been in the water all day.

2. Hellfire Pass

If you’re a history buff, particularly WWII, you may be familiar with the Hellfire Pass and the Death Railway.  However, I knew absolutely nothing about it.  For a very brief explanation, during WWII, Japan held British and Australian POW’s in Kanchanaburi to work on the railway from Thailand to Burma (now Myanmar). This task was attempted by the British government but was cancelled due to the working conditions being unbearable.  Kanchanaburi is a jungle, a very very hot jungle and the tools necessary to clear the land and cut through rock did not exist. It was hard labor and many lives were lost due to ill-treatment. The railway no longer runs through there and has turned into a museum and a hiking trail.  I read every single English letter in the museum and couldn’t get enough information. I got home and did more research and even watched The Railway Man (2014) with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Please watch this movie and let me know when you finish it.
IMG_16783. Bridge River Kwai
Another historical landmark, the Bridge River Kwai was made famous by movies and books showcasing the mountain-cliff hugging tracks and the beautiful scenery.  It is part of the Death Railway and has turned into a tourist spot in Kanchanaburi and has small trains run through daily. You can read more about the bridge and the Death Railway here.

4. Tourist Train Ride On The Death Railway
As previously explained, this is a huge tourist thing to do in Kanchanaburi.  Even if you aren’t a history buff, the scenery is jaw-dropping. Take a look!
IMG_1167Here’s another picture of my buddy on the train.  Every time I see this picture I laugh.  This man was trying to direct the train through each stop and over the bridge.  He would stick his head out and wave his arms around, get off and stand with the official guards, and direct tourists to stay behind the line.  He had to be on something but he was harmless and hilarious. Look at that face! You can’t tell me he wasn’t fun to watch.  I convinced myself he was undercover and his official uniform was at the dry-cleaners 😉

After the long day, I slept very well and made my way back to Chachoengsao early Sunday morning.  This was the first birthday I’ve spent alone.  And I was really really alone, but not lonely.  My adventures serve as great reminders that I’m doing “it while I’m still young.” 24 is going to be a good year!

If you’ve seen The Railway Man, send me an email! I would love to hear what you think about the movie and the story.


4 thoughts on “My Birthday Weekend in Kanchanaburi

  1. What a fantastic and amazing way to celebrate the big “24”!! Love all your posts but this one is truly spectacular. I love you so much and am extremely proud to be your Auntie Barb. Kiss! Kiss!


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