Over 10 years ago when I first came to Thailand the typical tourist, one journey I went on was to the Bridge over the river Kwai. Being a bit of a war buff I had read the book and decided to see for myself of course part of the original bridge was gone replaced by a new one although parts of the old bridge still remain and did not take a lot of work to let the mind wander back in time to imagine what it might have been like or what the original bridge workers must have endured.
On the day we arrived is was oppressively hot and muggy it was uncomfortable standing in the direct sunlight with hat, sunglasses and a bottle of chilled water the idea of of spending all that day building a bridge without taking into account the attitudes of the guards was exhausting just to think of.
The Thai-Burma rail line, 415 kilometers of it was built under order of the Japanese with forced labour by prisoners of war and enslaved locals during WWII, is also known as Death Railway. The Bridge Over the River Kwai was where the conditions were at it worst.
Built in one year, one estimate put the loss of life at 300,000, a costly line indeed.
We started our journey from Bangkok by train leaving from Hua lampong, the train is specific for the Bridge tour organized by the state railway of Thailand it leaves at 6am cost of ticket 200 baht.
The seats are wooden so pack a small pillow for your own 2nd class comfort.
The next stop is the war cemetery, time has faded my memories but there are mock ups of the camp, latrines, sleeping huts, utensils etc. The next stop is the bridge itself the train has commentary by guides but it is in Thai or was when I went.
The train stops long enough to walk over the bridge, take your photos and buy souvenirs. What many people do not realize is there was 2 bridges, one was was made from steel and the P.O.W one was made of wood this one was bombed during the war.
After visiting the steel bridge you board the train and move on to the wooden railway line. This is the one nicknamed the death railway. Again, you will have time to get out and have a look around.
Back on the train and next stop is the waterfall this is the end of the line here you will have lunch it is a one or 2 hour stop here. I cannot remember.
Time up, back on the train for the journey back to Bangkok to arrive at Hua lampong at 7-8pm. It’s a long enjoyable journey for a very good price, a definite must do. Add it to your itinerary and take your Asian dating girl along with you or your new best friend and commentary translator.
photo by markthehat on Flickr