The next day we bought some more sticky rice and banana treats in a bag with some other interesting looking goodies and took the bus back to Krabi where we caught a cab, negotiating first, to a prominent local wat. There were several things to see there, and as we were choosing which, one of the many monkeys ran up behind me and in one swipe ripped open the bag scattering the contents on the ground for its snack. Of the options, we chose the 1237 steps to see the Buddha on the mountain top. Many were gentle steps, most were tall and narrow. After a very long climb we noticed an occasional number on the railing posts which discouragingly counted steps; we had at that point only gone 385. At least we were above where monkeys would go – smart monkeys. At the top the large golden Buddha and the view were worth the climb, I think.
At the Krabi airport we went through security to get into the terminal and again on the way to the gate.
One more day of wandering through Bangkok. In Wat Po if you can take your eyes off the giant reclining Buddha look at the paintings on the walls which have some fun details of daily life from perhaps 200 years ago.
Out on the streets we began to wander at random, soon finding ourselves walking down a street where TV sets were being repaired and motors rewound on tables set out on the sidewalks. After a few blocks electronics gave way to flowers. Stalls and stalls of flowers for blocks ahead and down each side street. Then we realized that the interior of one large block was mostly devoted to flower stalls. Consider that people leave garlands of flowers at wats and shrines (remember the picture of Erwan Shrine), that fresh flowers adorn spirit houses which every building has to distract bad spirits, that restaurants and shops display flowers, and that flowers probably beautify most houses. Not a bad preoccupation for a city.
Most buses to Kanchanaburi, a city about 75miles to the west, leave from the southern bus terminal on the northwest side of Bangkok. After a block the cab driver said he would not take us all the way, then the second would not go by the meter, finally the third took us to the station on what became a 45 minute dash on freeways (a $9 fare). Again we went upstairs to search for the Kanchanaburi ticket booth and then downstairs to find the correct lane. Kanchanaburi, a small city in an agricultural area growing and processing sugar cane, gains fame with tourists for its location on the Kwai river near that famous bridge – except pronounce it 'Quay'. We were not interested in the WWII attractions and had to deflect the taxi drivers who wanted to shepherd us to them all. After a bit of walking along the river we found the hotel area mentioned in out guide book, choosing one with small rooms built on stilts over the water. Cheap, good food – you know the story by now. We had decided to take an early train that roughly follows the river up towards a highland area. We walked over to see where the station was located and it was surrounded by a night market just setting up. Most booths sold clothing or cell phones but there was a row of food stalls we sampled. Going back we negotiated a pair of motorcycle taxis to a small bridge and walked over to a recommended restaurant. For desert I wanted to try ginkgo nuts in a taro mousse but, they were out.
That night our alarm decided to quit working. After rushing to dress, mere minutes were left to the 5:50 train. The only person on the street, a motorcycle taxi driver, uttered the familiar “where you go” and off we did go. Three of us. One small bike. Every bump he would say “you ok, you ok?”, and every corner he would wobble nervously and moan “ohhhh”. We did arrive safe and sound and 45 minutes before the train actually arrived.