18.03.2010 - 19.03.2010
After leaving the immaculately clean Bangkok bus terminal with 98 platforms, we headed to Kanchanaburi with our £2 ticket which would take 2 hours. It was our first aircon bus and it was bliss!!!
We stayed in a guesthouse called sugar cane which had 3 rafts on the river. Each raft had about 12 rooms I think. We stayed on a raft just for one night because we saw a load of bugs crawling all over the bed so got moved into a private bungalow off the water!!
Anyway, we visited the Thailand-Burma railway museum, its a really good little museum and lovely and airconditioned too!! For those of you who dont know the tragic story about the railway it goes something like this;
In WW2 Japan had invaded Asia and the Pacific and had just invaded Burma. They needed a good transport link to get to Burma to deliver ammunition and the like but the only way to do this was to cut through Thailand (Thailand had signed an agreement with Japan to help them). Japan used PoW as the work force (British, Dutch, Australian and American) and locals. The railway was meant to be around 400km long and it would take 5 years to complete. However due to the appaulling leadership and harsh working hours it was finished in 16 months. With the PoWs being exhausted and being malnurished this lead to lots of diseases including cholera, beri beri and of course malnutrition as well. The Japanese guides were not simpathetic to the needs of the PoWs and subsequently tens of thousands of PoW died due to neglect and horrific treatment. There were loads of camps dotted up the railway and subsequently as they died there became loads of graves at each camp. The allies started to bomb the area, especially the bridge at river kwae, to stop transportation of ammunition and equipment into Burma which was under English rule before Japan invaded. Eventually Japan surrendered and it took a while for the PoWs to be repatriated. Some stayed behind to uncover all the graves to move them to 1 of 3 more central cemeteries. One of them is just opposite the railway museum and it is big but well kept. I think that is the jist of the story anyway, my history is not good at the best of times!
So The film 'Bridge over the river Kwai' is based on this.
So then we bobbed into the cemetery too. It was a really peaceful place even though it was just off one of the main roads. I think all in all 100,000 men died making the railway, 10,000 or so were Bristish.
A few km up the road is the bridge itself and to be honest it doesnt really look that much but if you know the history behind it then it does mean something. It is used only 3 times a day now.
There has been a dam built a good few mile away from the bridge and in 1980 or something it flooded a good chunk of the counrtyside and this included a good stretch of the railway which is now underwater.
As we watched the sun set over the bridge there were river restaurants being tugged up and down as people ate.
Tomorrow we are going to the Erawan National Park.