A week ago we left Bangkok and headed west 128km on a train to Kanchanaburi. After spending seven nights in the town, I thought I’d share a few of my sustainable travel tips just incase any of you were to ever visit.
- Eat at On’s Thai Issan – I’m not a vegetarian, nor am I vegan. But back in the UK I didn’t really eat much meat and have struggled since being in Asia with the sheer mass consumption of the stuff. You literally can’t escape it. Discovering On’s was a delight, I’m not even ashamed to say that while in Kanchanaburi we ate here 4/7 days. Such a friendly place and their massaman curry is seriously tasty.
- Get on your bike – In 1942 Thailand was under Japanese control. At the time Asian labourers and prisoners of war from Great Britain, America, Australia and Holland were being forced to construct a railway line, the Death Railway, that runs from Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma. One of the most notable parts of the railway line is Bridge 277 (Bridge on the River Kwai) which is located in Kanchanaburi. One day we hired bikes and cycled to the bridge, the JEATH War Museum and the war cemetery to learn about the horrendous history of how the railway was built and to pay our respects.
- Visit Erawan National Park – A protected area about 41 miles north of Kanchanaburi which you can get to by bus for just 50 baht. It’s a really popular attraction because of it’s seven tiered waterfall and wildlife, to avoid the crowds we went on a weekday. While there we managed to see macaques (one had it out with a dog which was entertaining), monitor lizards, fish that nibble your feet, a huge spider (not a clue what it was, but Rob swears it walked over his foot…) and a couple of wild boars. However if you go off the trails (which I’d advise not to, the actual trail was difficult enough) you can find Indian muntjac, wild elephants, gibbons, Indochinese serow, and sambar deer. Like I mentioned, the trail was pretty hefty. To get to the seventh tier of the waterfall you walk over slippery rocks, through deep pools and up rickety steps. Reaching the top makes the journey worth it though and stopping off at the other tiers for a dip on the way helps you cool down. In order to keep the park as thriving with nature as possible, food is forbidden beyond tier 2 and you need to pay a deposit for any plastic bottles carried.
Eating local and meat free, getting around by bike, train or bus, experiencing local history and respecting local nature and culture are just some of the ways you can be sustainable whilst travelling.
The world is becoming ‘smaller’. More and more people are travelling and this produces significant impacts on natural resources, pollution and social systems.
- International tourist arrivals have increased from 25 million in 1950, to 278 million in 1980, 527 million in 1995, to 1.32 billion in 2017. They are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
- The average Western household uses 326 litres of water per day…. a village of 700 in a developing country uses an average of 500 litres of water per month AND a luxury hotel room guest uses 1800 litres of water per person per night…
- Eating beef is the most water consumptive practice by travellers.
- Since 1970 a third of the natural world has been destroyed by human activity. Almost 2/3 are degraded by human activity.
Some examples of these impacts that I’ve seen first hand so far on my travels have been; the exploitation of women and men for the ‘pleasure’ of tourists, mistreatment of animals for the ‘entertainment’ of tourists, mass produced and cheap souvenirs, plastic pollution pretty much everywhere and poor air quality on most roads.
To reduce these impacts we need to start making better educated decisions about how we travel, where we stay, how we eat, what activities we do and how we spend our money. Only by doing this can we ensure there are places to be travelled to in the future, because if we continue at this rate, the world that we want to travel won’t be worth travelling.
Today we arrived in Phetchaburi on a very sweaty bus and then an even sweatier train. But the views were incredible! I’m looking forward to seeing what the place has to offer. Again, any tips on what to do, let me know!