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  1. Apr 26

    Screening of documentary “Tracing shadows” – 15th May 2013

    Watch the screening of Luke’s adventure documentary about this daring and exciting journey walking 330km across rural Thailand.

    15th May 2013

    $10 a head at the door

    Doors open @ 7:30pm

    Hibernian House – 205/342 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, Sydney

  2. Apr 25

    Tracing Shadows Doco Teaser

  3. May 29

    Final photos

    Walking the current day railway that spans just less of half the distance we walked (It was very hot!)

    Catching a boat across the dam after becoming stuck at the dam wall

    A homestay on luke’s birthday

    The beauty

    Boy monk

    A monk’s humble little home/room

    … and he (in the middle) cooked for us. This temple we stayed at was actually a cave!

    A cave we slept in!

    Luke

    Rachel

    A lovely little family who invited us in for the night

  4. May 29

    Animals spotted by Luke

    Animal seen Dead Alive
    Frogs 9 10
    Snakes 10 1
    Crabs 15+ 1
    Monkeys in the wild 0 1
    Territorial dogs A few
    Too many to count and too scared to bother
  5. May 29

    Rachels Reflections on the Death Railway Walk

    Im sitting in an internet cafe in Bangkok alone. Luke has left for the airport. The Death Railway Expedition is complete. What a journey it has been.

    I’ve been trying to think of a word to describe this experience, but none feel quite right. Has it been challenging…yes. Exciting…yes. Daunting…yes. Eye opening…yes. Dream fulfilling…yes. Its been everything. I think Ive experienced all emotions all types of pain (ok well not all types) and all types of highs and lows. There is no one word that will describe what this journey has been for me.

    The walk itself was incredible. Each step hurt. Each step took me one step closer to home. Each step reminded me of the pain suffered by the POWs. Each step was hard work and required endurance. After having walked over 300km I still find it unbelieveable that any of the POWs survived that walk or the working conditions they were then made to work under. Its honestly unbelieveable.

    The Thai locals were without a doubt the highlight for me. I was continuously amazed at the kindness and generosity we experienced. We stayed in 8 temples. They were all unique, all beautiful and they all took us in with open arms. Some fed us, some socialised with us and all of them gave us a roof over our heads and a place to bathe. Then there are the people who allowed us to stay in their homes. We literally imposed ourselves on these people. We asked if we could stay in complete strangers homes, and they said yes. I was amazed. Not only that they gave us food and 2/3 gave us their beds! I can’t help but think if 2 foriegners turned up on my doorstep obviously dirty and smelly, not able to speak my language and indicated through signs and poor english they wanted to stay at my house, Im pretty sure I would say no. So for me, the people we stayed with at temples and in local houses are what I will remember the most. When I look back on the walk its their faces that go through my mind. On the final night of the expedition as I got into bed (the bed of the girl who lived in the house) I cried myself to sleep. I was completely overwhelmed. They had opened up their lives to us. These Thai people have made me want to be a better person. They have helped me to have faith in people again. They have allowed me to see that the world is a good place and that most people in it are friendly and willing to help out a stranger. I will never forget these people and what they have taught me. And this goes for all the people who stopped to say hello, ask where we were going, and offer us a lift. Amazing. Every single encounter was amazing.

    The challenges of the sun, the heat, the rain, the mountains, the long distances were tough going but also helped build character, endurance and peserverance. It was all worth it. For me the most challenging thing was being away from home. The thing I learnt was that no matter where I am in the world, home will always be where my heart is.

    Discovering something new about yourself is often a theme when you do something like this. I think what I learnt was that I really really love walking. I knew I liked it, but now I know I love it. I love the slowness of it and how it allows you to really take in the world around you. I love the openess of it and how it allows you to experience the elements. I love the strain of it and how it allows me to feel like Ive achieved something great when I get to the top of a mountain. But something else I also discovered on this walk was that the world is truely an amazing place. We are taught so often to question the world and the people in it. Don’t trust it. But I found on this trip that when you open yourself to it, the world gives you so much in return.

    I will never forget this walk. It has been…. yep there is still no word to describe it. You will just have to trust me when I say I am leaving Thailand with a sense of peace and happiness.

    Thank you to my husband, Tom who supported me wholeheartedly and endured 5 weeks without me. It hasn’t been easy and I don’t take his love and support for granted. Thanks Tom

    Also thank you to our other brother Rohan, we wish you had been with us and we are sorry you weren’t. Thank for being you.

  6. May 29

    I jotted down things I will miss and not miss

    I thought I would put together I list of things I will miss and not miss.

    I will miss I will not miss
    Walking

    .

    Not knowing where you’ll sleep that night

    The people who stopped to talk

    Being hungry

    The people who offered a lift

    The stares of confusion

    Friendly monks

    My sister

    Doing a ‘number 2’ in the bushes

    Rain      

    Mud

    Eating local Thai food

    Eating with local Thai’s

    The time to think and reflect

    Heat

    Cold bucket baths in a hot country

    The views

    The unknown

    Navigating & looking at the maps

    Meeting people and listening

    Walking

    .

    Not knowing where you’ll sleep that night

    Exposure to Thailand’s sunlight for extended periods of time

    Being hungry

    The temptation to accept the offer of a lift

    The stares of confusion

    The (territorial) dogs!!

    Mosquitoes

    Doing a ‘number 2’ in the bushes

    Rain

    Mud

    Protecting my camera equipment from the elements

    A grimy camera

    Wet feet

    Heat

    Sunburn

    Seeing my cracked filter

    Carrying my camera

    Being tired

    Blisters

     By Luke

  7. May 28

    The places we were invited to sleep

    This next one was in a cave!

  8. May 22

    Its amazing who you meet….

    Luke and I have been relaxing by the dam for the past few days getting much needed rest. Today we were walking into town to have lunch in the market. A car pulled up beside us and it was 2 westerners ‘Are you going to the market?” they said. “Want a lift?” We certainly did! So we jumped in the car, soon we were telling them what we were doing in Sang Khla Buri and what we had been doing. They were interested. They were on their way to the Three Pagoda Pass border to look at furniture and asked us to come along for the ride. So we did! They are English but live in Thailand now, as both their sons now live in Thailand. They run an NGO for Burmese children who live across the border and have no access to Thai benefits. It really is amazing the people we have met along this journey. I think Luke and I really loved having someone else to talk to! Not that we are sick of talking to each other ;-) but the fact we had 2 people who were new to our expedition and were willing and interested to hear all about it was so encouraging. We haven’t talked to anybody about the walk yet. It was a true blessing to come across Linda and Tom today. Still, even though we have stopped walking, we are meeting amazing people who are making the Death Railway Expedition just that little more special.

  9. May 21

    The final days of walking…

    Day 19 (Day 15 of walking)
    We left the temple this morning a little sad. We make new friends and then have to leave the next day. But we have to walk, so we continue on our journey. The highway this far south is not in good condition. This day for Rachel was one of the toughest. Over walking. Over the heat. Over being sore. Over blisters. Over mosquitoes buzzing in her ear. Over it all.
    While we were walking a monk on a motorbike stopped and it seemed he was saying to us (in Thai) that we should come to his temple that was about 5km up the road. How amazing is that?! We were excited to know the temple wasn’t far away and that we were welcome at it! About 1/2 hour later a boy arrived on a motorbike obviously from the temple and wanted us to get on the motorbike with him. It was difficult to make him understand we ‘wanted’ to walk. “Dern?” (walk) he said. We nodded. Ok, he shrugged and rode off. It seemed to take forever to get to the temple. When we finally found it we were so grateful, so relieved and then so amazed. As we turned the corner before us stood a cave. This temple was in a cave! The monks were ready for us, with cold water and a place for our tent in the cave. We were gobsmacked that we were going to spend the night in a cave! The monks at this temple were amazing. They were so friendly and so keen to interact with us. They cooked us dinner and just kept giving us food! Downfall of sleeping in the cave though was the monks doing their prayers at 7.30pm-9pm and 5am-6am! Oh, and the bats and their poo was another downfall. Just ask Luke. ;-)

    Day 20 (Day 16 of walking)
    The monks went out collecting alms but made sure that we knew that once they had eaten we were welcome to eat what was left over. We were really thankful for this gesture of kindness.
    Today’s plan was to walk to the next temple about 12km down the road. We walked about 12km and realised we had not seen a temple. Not wanting to have to back track we asked some locals. They pointed back the way we came. We turned back and soon saw a small village down a hill. We sighted the temple at the top (though it did not look like a temple) and approached to ask if we could sleep there. The monk we met seemed to not want us to stay and kept pointing down at the village. We pushed a bit further but it seemed we were not going to be sleeping at this temple. We were stumped; where were we going to sleep? We stood in the village for a while then decided to ask a house in the village if we could stay. This is when we met Beauty. We called out to her and she came outside, in our very simple Thai and using the Thai phrase book we communicated that we wanted to stay at her house. She was only 19, but took us in, gave us water and cooked us a meal! Soon the family arrived home, an older brother Non (20) and 2 younger brothers (10,12). Mother and a father. They were happy to have us stay. Amazingly they gave us a room each (their rooms, they slept elsewhere for the night). A towel to dry ourselves with after a wash and pyjamas to wear to bed. We were just amazed at their generosity. Two foreigners had turned up on their doorstep, who didn’t speak their language and asked to stay at their house. They took us in and gave us food, water, shelter and comforts. We had a great night with them. Conversing using the Thai phrase book was really fun. They fed us lizard at dinner! The sleep we both had that night on a mattress was very much needed.

    Day 21 (Day 17 of walking)
    We were so sad to leave the family in the morning. The stay with them had been a huge highlight of the trip. Constantly we have been amazed at how generous and giving the Thai’s have been to us. Two strangers. We walked in silence on this morning. Both feeling sad about our departure from Beauty and her brother Non and rest of family.
    Thankfully the sun was not out this day. If it had been walking would have been almost impossible. The highway was ascending the mountains at a steep ascent and then descending the other side just as steeply. Walking it was extremely tough going. But with the end in sight we powered on. We were planning to stay in the temple just outside of Sangkhla Buri that night, and walk the final 2km the next day. But when we got to the temple we realised we didn’t want to postpone the end. We were here in Sangkhla Buri. It was time to finish. So we walked into Sangkhla Buri; 325km and 21 days later it was over.

    Our bodies collapsed once we stopped walking and Rachel spent the first day of rest in bed with a fever, aches and pains and nausea. Its amazing what the human body will endure if it has to. But it certainly will shut down when its given the chance to. We are spending a few days in Sangkhla Buri resting and reflecting before we head back down south. More posts to follow…

  10. May 21

    Vajiralargkorn Dam and a remote birthday…

    Day 17 (Day 13 of walking)
    This day was Lukes birthday! He was pleasantly surprised to receive a present from Rachel. We said goodbye to our hosts at the church and made our way out of town. Heading towards the dam wall was exciting. We had anticipated this moment for so long. Our hope was to cross the dam wall and walk along the shore of the dam to the road we needed. We had no idea if this would be possible, the only way to know was to go there. On arrival we found that the dam wall is a tourist attraction. Set up very well and there were quite a few Thai tourists around. The wall was huge, about 1km long. We climbed up on top and it was immediately obvious that we would not be able to cross the dam wall. Not only was it impossible to get to the other side, but the shore was steep. After a interesting conversation with a security guard, using the Thai phrase book and our map we got across what we wanted to do. We could see the road we wanted about 2km along the shore. Next thing a ute turned up and some other security guards took us to a nearby village where we could hire a boat to take us back round to the road we wanted on the other side of the dam. Life changes so quickly on the road!
    So we ended up at the road and the village we wanted. We began walking and it was obvious that white people do not walk through here. The villagers were staring and obviously curious as to who we were and what we might be doing walking through their village. The heat was intense and walking was hard work.
    We came across a village and decided we needed to try and stay here as there was no other village coming up for kilometres. We approached a house and they invited us onto their small verandah. We started trying to converse with them in Thai and it just wasn’t working. Then it dawned on us, they weren’t Thai. ‘Burmese?’ Nodding their heads they confirmed they were in fact Burmese. The dam was built by Burmese workers in the 80′s and the future generations still live here. The vibe with this family was different, it didn’t feel right. They said there was a temple up ahead so we decided to keep moving.
    We set off again and finding the temple became a problem. We just weren’t coming across it. Then it began to rain. Anxiety set in. Where were we going to sleep? A house came into view. We approached the house and a group of people were standing outside. They were a Thai family. We asked if we could sleep at their house. They said yes. The house was a simple bamboo structure. The family were excited to have us stay. We were in a very remote part of Thailand, in a very simple Thai farmers house. It was a perfect way for Luke to spend his birthday really!

    Day 18 (Day 14 of walking)
    The family got up early as they own a rubber plantation and were busy working by 6am. We said thank you and headed off in the direction of the village we wanted. The walking this day was tough. Lots of mountains. Mainly dirt roads destroyed by monsoonal rains. The heat and the sun at their strongest. But it was amazing walking through the remote villagers just passing people as they went about their daily routine. We were confused as to what road we were on, as it didn’t seem to coincide with the road we could see on our map. We kept asking the locals and they kept pointing down the road. So we kept walking. Near the end of the day we came out on a main road. We were confused. We had no idea where we were. From our map we guessed we would need to turn right on this road to get to the village we wanted, the locals though kept pointed left and saying it was a good 10-15km to that village. We started walking left. Then a very familiar white sign post with KM markings on it came into sight. We were on the highway. We couldn’t believe it. We had come out much more south than we expected but we at least had come out on the very road we would eventually need. Thankfully there was a temple 2km up the road where we stayed for the night. The monks were excited to have us stay and watched eagerly as we cooked our dinner and set up our tent.