The River Kwai: The Funny Disappointments on Our Trip to This River in Thailand by Sheri B Doyle
Not every travel experience is postcard perfect. I have found that while it may be frustrating in the moment, they always make for a great story afterwards. One of these experiences was a floatel on the River Kwai in Thailand.
Imagine staying in a hotel floating on the River Kwai, set away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Each night as the sun goes down the hotel is lit with lanterns and candles only for a romantic getaway. Each day elephants come to the shores where you can feed and play with them. Our gourmet kitchen produces each delicious meal with only the best local foods. Each room is a private bungalow with a balcony in front to relax on the river. These were all the wonderful features of staying in this floatel on the River Kwai.
We arrived full of anticipation. As we disembarked from the small boat onto the floatel we noticed people running up the walkway of the floatel with life jackets on. At the end, they would jump in the water and float to the opposite end of the hotel. This was going to be a blast!
Our rooms were all simple; joined together to create this floating structure. But the scenery was amazing, and the flowers lining the hotel served as the perfect decoration. As the sun began to set we sat down for a drink and waited for our gourmet meal and lantern-lit dinner. This is where it all started to go wrong.
Our food was bland, the service (normally amazing in Thailand) consisted of servers putting the food on the table and never coming back. No problem; it is a relaxed place and we can handle it. After dinner we took advantage of the flower-covered balconies to watch the stars and enjoy an after-dinner drink. The heat of the day had failed to fall so it was about 90 degrees. As we made our way to our rooms, we noticed no one closed their doors, because it was too hot and there was no ventilation or electricity.
After lying in the room for about two hours unable to sleep we noticed many people walking around. We also noticed we were getting terrible headaches. Soon we all started to realize it was from the fumes of the propane tanks. We couldn’t stay in our rooms because of the heat and the fumes. Most of the guests were sleeping in the lobby or on their balconies.
The next morning while we shook off our exhaustion, we decided to use the day to float down the River Kwai from our floatel and a boat. This was a great way to spend the day. After doing this and some hiking we headed to the bar for an afternoon beer. The bartender decided he didn’t want to serve beers so he left two 7-year-olds behind the bar to serve up the drinks. As it turned out, the kids were a riot and quite good at opening beers.
Later, it was time for the elephants. We had waited with great anticipation for our elephant experience. That night, after finishing our less-than-exciting dinners, all of us gave up and turned off the lanterns, using our phones flashlights to get around. Even though it made it very difficult to brush our teeth and go to the bathroom, we were happy we weren’t able to see the large jungle bugs crawling around.
The next morning, as tired as we were, we couldn’t help but laugh at our crazy experience, which has now become one of our favorite travel stories.
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