Our 2007 UK and Europe Trip
Bridge on the River Kwai
31 May 2007
Unaccustomed as I am to rising at 5.45am, I was up and about, down for breakfast and out the door at 6.15 am to join the bus to the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi. After picking up passengers at two other city hotels we were on the highway out of Bangkok.
Today was a public holiday to celebrate the birthday of Buddha. After two hours of Thai traffic we reached Kanchanaburi. We made our way onto the bridge amongst the many other tourists including Japanese. I didn’t realize that the two spans which have a rectangular profile were repairs to the bridge after it lost these spans to allied bombing. The original timber bridge had also been destroyed in this manner but it is best remembered in the movie.
I was just amazed that we were allowed to walk the bridge as the platform has many large openings in it and it would only take one slip and you would be through the bridge and into the fast flowing River Kwai. During this walk the only train of the day arrived at the station.
We enlightened into long boats and made a very hasty trip down the river, past riverboat houses and large disco riverboats and back into the town. It was there that we caught the train from Bangkok and made a one and a half hour journey along the Burma railway. It is a bridge and railway that was built upon the suffering and death of thousands of Asians and allied prisioners-of-war and I thought about the men with great respect who built this railway during the time that we traveled along
Lunch was at a riverside restaurant with spectacular views down the river and out into the mountains. Across the river was a resort that I had contemplated staying at during our Thai trip and I am now pleased that I didn’t go along that path of thinking.
It was back into the bus again and down to the town. At this point we were only 50 klms from the border of Burma.
We stopped at the cemetery which contains the graves of servicemen mostly from Britain, Holland and Australia. It is one of the largest WWII cemeteries in Thailand and is beautifully cared for by Thais who are employed by the Graves Commission. There are many unknown graves also in the cemetery with only one woman who died in 1945. Just down the street is the JEATH museum which houses many photos, paintings, press clippings and memorabilia from this period of history. It is in a state of disrepair and needs urgent restoration to save the perishable items.
It was a long day which we enjoyed very much. Getting out of Bangkok and seeing the countryside was a real treat. We were back at our hotel by 6 o’clock and ready for an early night.