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– and final day in Kanchanaburi. After the opressive heat of yesterday I was worried I’d lose another to the heatwave. Thankfully, that wasn’t to be. I was up at dawn this morning to make the most of the coolness of the day – fully expecting to be grounded later as the temperatures rose. At least the Tamarind would be a reasonable place for that to happen. They have an upstairs seating area that’s open but shaded, there’s plenty of power sockets for charging up gizmos – and there’s a free supply of water, tea and coffee.

Being up so early had other advantages other than the cool and free beverages. The river looks stunning in the early morning light and the amount of wildlife you see from the elevated perch compared to my rover view is fascinating. Pairs of Kingfishers used the roof of my ‘floatel’ as a lookout – something I’d never had chance to observe before. Meanwhile, squadrons of Monitor lizards began their early morning patrol.

Mind you, they weren’t the only early birds. When I left the hotel at 08:00 the first of the mains streets bars were open – and with trade. An old British expatriate was already on his first beer and God’s knows what number fag. I saw him several hours later. He was still in the same seat but with a different shirt, so I can only assume he took a shower break! The expat community here is interesting. A lot (but not by all by any means) appear to be British – and very set in their routines. They frequent the same bars and stick in the same groups. Not only are they drinkers, most of them are smokers too – and their BMI tends to reflect this. I passed a few of them at what I assume is one of their favourite food outlets. Chaps were tucking into toast and omlettes, or even a full English – and what looked suspiciously like black pudding – and I’ve no idea where you’d get that from! ‘Thai spicy’ wasn’t on the menu.

I have to admit, I’ve bumped into a UK expat here who’s given me a very interesting insight into expat (or long-term visitors, as some are) and it’s been food for thought. I really don’t get going to the same bar everyday, with the same people – until one of them croaks, which is fairly likely, as these guys are neither spring-chickens or out jogging every morning! It’s not much of a life or old age, more God’s waiting room with cold beer, baked beans and bar girls…

Now, please don’t take this as in anyway a criticism of Thai people. I’ve met some lovely ones here. OK, one or two of the ‘Farangs’ local girlfriends can be as mad as a box of frogs after a session on the Thai whisky, I’m talking about the vast majority of people, all of whom have been so friendly and genuine.

Anyway, my breakfast was full Thai (glass noodles and chicken), after which I wandered home to prepare for the blast-furnace – only to find that – unlike yesterday there was a very pleasant breeze that took the sting out of the temperature. So I thought ‘sod it’ and caught the 10:44 train to Nam Tok, the end of the ‘death railway’. Besides, you’re in a sheltered railway coach with all the windows open and roof-mounted electric fans, there’s worse places to be!

I’ll add a full review of the line at a later date, but it was a great trip. Few tourists go all the way. Most do just do a section of it as part of a minibus/coach package that whisks around a dizzying number of sites. This meant I had pole position at widows as I was on early and knew what to expect as I’d traversed the line in 2009. You’ll get to see all of today’s pictures later. Here’s a few as right now I’m back at my hotel concentrating on packing and another early night as I’m catching the 07:20 back to Bangkok in the morning. The next chapter of my trip is about to begin…

Alsthom built 4130 running around the train at journey’s end at Nam Tok. This loco’s been on this working from Bangkok since I arrived.
In my professional opinion, the best views from the train are on the Southbound run, but don’t get too far back down the trainset…

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