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“Midnight! the outpost
of advancing day!
The frontier town
and citadel of night!”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There are very few places I’ve been to that I would choose to return instead of looking to go somewhere new.  Kanchanaburi is one of those places.  Many towns in Thailand end up feeling exceptionally similar. But, while the city of Kanchanaburi in itself is nothing immensely special, it sits in Thailand’s western frontier filled with dozens of interesting places to check out.

How could I pass up starting out the trip with some Riski Halal food?

It was on Christmas Eve-Eve that we arrived in Kanchanaburi.  All 8 of us from our ATI course, plus Morgan’s friend Brandi.  We had an extended weekend for the holiday from work, and I had originally planned on spending that just laying low in the new apartment and relaxing.  An antagonistic message from Sarah changed that though, and I was on the bus to Bangkok’s west.

As I’ve stated several times before, I’m not one to plan ahead.  But, the others were, and had made reservations at V.N. Guest House already.  This came to a bit of a standoff when we boarded a songthaew at the bus station and the driver tried bringing us to a different guest house.  It’s not often that Craig loses his cool, but here he was about to, as the songthaew driver was insisting we’d be much happier here.

Luckily this was not my BDEROOM.

And so would he, from the commission he’d get from bringing us.

Eventually he did bring us to the V.N. Guest House, despite Sarah’s recommendation of the Jolly Frog, someplace cheaper, and she insisted, nicer.    Still, there wasn’t much to dislike about this guest house.  It was about a 3 minute walk from the main entertainment and foreign area; far enough to be quiet, but close enough to be convenient.  And it was right on the river.  So, along with its floating rooms (which none of us slept in) it was very scenic.  If you didn’t count the loud karaoke boats passing by here and there.

The first night ended up being much like our first night on the Phuket trip.  We got there late at night, so as a group, we went out to see what the town’s nightlife had to offer.

Sporting the Santa caps.

As a Christmas gift, Morgan had bought everyone an Asian-style breathing mask with some funny design on it.  She and Megan had also each brought a Santa hat along to wear for the weekend, being Christmas and all.  Surprisingly, many others had the same idea and were sporting red flannel hats topped with white puffballs as well.

We began at the standard Thai Reggae bar (still don’t understand those) of the town.  Inside was a fairly good band playing and what sounded to be an improvised drumbeat.  Of course, we were sitting over the edge of the street, right over a sewer grate.  And the smell of Thailand, particularly around the sewers, is not bound to keep people around for long.

Most of the night ended up being spent at the Sugar Member, an open room with a glass slider that magically changes into a dance venue at night.  A few of us broke off here and there to explore other places, but kept ending up back until close with all the other backpackers in the area.  It had a DJ and a relaxing back courtyard, and a man who had fallen asleep on one of the benches.

Had it for the night.

Had it for the night.

Had it for the night.

And sometimes it’s just fun being around other foreigners who are as blissfully lost in a southeastern Asian frontier town as you are.

The empty Kanchanaburi streets.

Benjamin Williams

Hi all, my name is Ben. I’m a native Michigander with a passion for human culture and new places, and more than that, new experiences. I have degrees in archaeology and writing, pursuing a career in the latter. However, I never quite lost that fascination for archaeological theory. For the past 11 years, I’ve been living and travelling between Asia, Europe, and North America, documenting ancient sites and the peoples who built them, and then adapting them into practical archaeological travel information at

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