« Thailand Part II - Bangkok | Main | Cambodia - Angkor Wat & the Tonle Sap »

June 26, 2007

Thailand Part III - Bridge on the River Kwai

The 1957 motion picture, The Bridge on the River Kwai, won 7 Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globes at the 1958 awards ceremonies. The site is now a major tourist attraction in Thailand, about a 3 hour drive west of Bangkok in Kanchanaburi province.We left just after breakfast on May 28th on a tour bus with people from a number of downtown hotels.The morning rush hour in Bangkok was the same as everywhere we had been - too much traffic, too few roads.



Just after 11, we arrived at one of 3 national memorial cemeteries dedicated to the memory of the thousands of Allied POWs who died during the construction of 2 bridges, the first of wood and the second of steel (the wood bridge was destroyed in a bombing raid).The bridge over the Kwai River was part of the Death Railway, a rail line built by the Japanese to link Burma (now Myanmar) with the w:st="on">Gulf of Thailand.



The cemetery was very beautifully maintained and we were able to find the marker of one Canadian buried there.



Each of the several hundred markers was done in the same manner with name, regiment, rank and age, plus most had a one line message from family as well. It was quite an emotional few minutes for each of us, even though we did not know anyone buried there.
We then headed to the river with a stop at the museum.  It was again very hot and humid and the bamboo building was not air conditioned.  The displays are quite old and only in fair condition but most were original newspaper reports and photos, letters from the prisoners, diary entries and similar very personal items. After reading these real reports, it seems a miracle that anyone lived through the ordeal

IMG_5502_editedWe then boarded what appeared to be home-made boats with about 6 people in each, and when loaded, were only about 6 inches out of the water.  The ride down stream to the bridge took about ten minutes.  The area is now very commercial with restaurants and bazaars but I’m sure that 65 years ago it was raw jungle.  With nine steel spans made in Japan, the bridge is 522 metres.  >

The rail system the bridge was built for is still in use every day and we were fortunate enough to be there when the mid-day passenger local crossed.As many of you know my hobby for 30 years has been trains so it was interesting for me to see the local train.

We went by bus to an outdoor restaurant for lunch and then boarded the train for a 30 minute ride back to the town where the cemetery was located.


 This was our view of the village while we waited for the train – and almost hidden in the grass, was this wonderful statue.  We discovered them in the most unusual places.

We left the train, and headed to our bus for the ride back to Bangkok. The bus was parked on the other side of the tourist shopping area so we had to walk past all the stalls to get to it.   Excellent and we’re sure planned place to park.

We arrived back in Bangkok about 5:30 after a most interesting day to a world famous historical site.

The next day we left for Siem Rep, Cambodia and the ancient city of Angkor

Ross & Bernie

Posted by Bernice at June 26, 2007 01:08 PM


That was one of my favorite movies and to be able to actually be there has to have been an incredible experience! I am sure that it was extremely emotional to see all those graves--I remember visiting some of the Civil War cemetaries and it leaves you feeling so empty and so angry at war. Thank you for sharing that with us. Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at November 15, 2007 05:33 PM