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Death Railway - Kanchanaburi Day Trip

Written on: Friday February 13th, 2009

A journal entry from: Thailand 2009

Today was a day trip from Bangkok to see WW2 stuff around Kanchanaburi (about 3 hrs away). Kanchanaburi is on the River Kwae, like the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, where a lot of POWs were forced to build the Thai-Burma railway for the Japanese.

Waiting at Khao San Road for the van in the morning, I saw an awkward scene: a Western guy in his late 30s/early 40s escorting a 20ish year old Thai woman (holding/dragging her by the arm) to a cab. The woman didn't want to go/wouldn't get in. When it was clear the guy wasn't interested any more, the woman walked off down the road refusing the guy's money/cab and looking upset (i.e. she wanted more than he did from their "relationship"). The guy walked back to his friends, who wer all laughing/carefree/mentally high-fiving him for it. Gross.

1st stop on the tour was the Allied War Cemetery, possibly the tidiest place in Thailand. My goals were to find someone the same age as me and a Welsh guy - and I found both!

2nd stop was a bizarre museum that we were told was the JEATH museum (Japan/England/Australia/America/Thailand/Holland) - turned out to be a complete fake. E.g. captions have odd wording like "after the bombing, POWs lay higgledy-piggledy over the bridge" Tourists are taken there because it's right next to the famous bridge (two birds with 1 stone). How come the Japs get top-billing when they were the bad guys in JEATH acronym? And Australia and America have to share an initial? Seems pretty lame.

The bridge (re-built after being bombed twice I think) was awesome! I'm afraid of heights/being able to see water running 20 metres beneath where I'm standing - but I made it over and back again. After Wat Pho yesterday I was feeling pretty brave!

The afternoon was lunch on a floating restaurant on the river - nice! Then an annoying 1h40m "wait" at a fake waterfall while lamer tourists went off to have their picture taken with drugged-up tigers at Tiger Temple. I climbed up to the water source of the waterfall only to find an electric pump! After that we got a train ride back on the "death railway" to a herd of vans ready to take us back to Bangkok.

The ride was so annoying! 30 minutes out from Bangkok (at about 6:30pm) the driver stopped for a "rest" stop for everyone for 10 minutes! No one wants a rest stop that close to getting back. Then, when we got back to Bangkok, instead of being taken all the way back to Khao San Road I was just dumped on the side of like a highway off ramp near-ish by. But, it was dark and I didn't know exactly where I was! Luckily, I picked a good random direction to walk back in, and I got back after about 20 min of wandering! At night, Khao San is like a cross between the Ekka and schoolies - incredibly lame.