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Thailand Photos: Sangklaburi in Kanchanaburi - walk and Karen village home stay (09 - 13 September 2006)

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Sangklaburi (Sangkhlaburi) town and its tourist activities such as boating, elephant riding, rubber and bamboo rafting are regularly mentioned in travel publications and in webpages. However the Hilltribe Karen people villages in the hills many kilometers off the main road are still out of the normal tourist trails. Mountain tribe peoples who have been living there have managed to maintain the nature in its healthy conditions for several hundreds years. Only a few decades ago sort of dirt roads started to appear in the forest, and then came some tourists in dry season in four weel drive vehicles.

From Bangkok it is roughly 6 to 7 hours trip by a public air-con bus to Sangklaburi. Several buses leave New Morchit bus terminal in the morning till noon time. The last section of the road between Thong Pha Phum and Sangklaburi (3 pagoda border check point) is in the hills and thus it is somewhat slow motion travel. Alternatively one can travel to Kanchanaburi town and change to a mini bus that ply between Kanchanaburi and Sangklaburi.

A man fishing from a wooden boat
Early morning catch: a man catching fish using a net from his wooden boat on Khao Laem dam lake which was formed after the construction of a hydro-electric dam across the Kwae Noi river near Thong Pha Phum town. Mon and Karen (Kayin) people live in this western part of Thailand and in neighbouring Myanmar (Burma).

The wooden bridge known as Mon bridge across Songkalia river
The wooden pedestrian bridge links the modern Sangklaburi town with bank, hotels, bus station and internet cafes to Mon villages, Mon temple and Mon market on the western side. The bridge, one of many tourist attractions, was built over Songkalia (Song Kalia or Songalia) river that drains into the lake at its northern tip. Many of the town's resorts and guesthouses are on the western bank of the lake's northern tip so as to offer the best views.

A floating house on the lake
A typical floating raft house on the lake. Many raft houses float on the waters some of them are local houses, while others provide accommodations to tourists. The motor bridge in the distance allows vehicles to commute across the river.

A cable stayed wooden bridge leading to Sanepong Karen village
The nearest Karen village "Sanepong" is 9 km from the paved highway road 323. The 9 km dirt road is passable in dry season, and in the rainy season even a four wheel drive truck would go only half. We walked on the cable stayed wooden bridge over the Songkalia river (also called Sane Pong stream by some locals) and entered the village.

Royal Forest Department office
Royal Forest Department office at the entrance to Sanepong village.

Sanepong village
A house in Sanepong village - a Karen village of agriculture. Few grocery shops are there. In the rainy season inflatable rubber rafting trips could be started around here; while during the low water time bamboo rafts may be used. The usual destination is Songkalia village (Mon, Karen and Thai) downstream before Khao Laem dam lake. Tourists can ask the village head for permit to overnight in one of thier houses.

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