The Kanchanabury war history

Kanchanaburi Travel Blog

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I slept absolutely wonderful tonight, in my luxurious room next to the river. I did had to put my anti mosquito machine in the plug though, because the water does attract some uninvited guests. But apart from the little bloodsuckers, that perished soon after my little machine got in to action, I didn’t encounter any insects in my room. Thank God, because ones it got dark there did were some huge beetle like creatures on the walls outside, and I wouldn’t want to find those under my bed… There were a lot of geckos too, but non in my room. Too bad though, they would have made my chemical anti mosquito weapon unnecessary. I’ve tried to lure one in before going to bed, but it declined my invite…


We plan to witness what’s left of the war history of Kanchanaburi today, as most tourists who visit this city.

First stop is the smaller of two war cemeteries, where many prisoners of war were buried after they died in the horrible camps, building the railroad between Thailand and Cambodia under Japanese supervision. Even though this is a pretty small cemetery it lays to rest way too many sons and loved ones that never returned home. The area is beautifully maintained though, with lots of flowers, and most graves have these little inscriptions on them that are truly touching. I’m somehow used to war cemeteries as we have a lot of big ones at the Belgian coast, but they still touch me really bad. It must be so difficult to loose a loved one that far from home, to know he will never return, not even his remainings. That he will stay in the land were he died such a horrible dead forever, while his last thoughts were probably about his family and loved ones at home… It feels awfully sad.
That’s why many of the inscriptions really stuck with me. A mother wrote on the grave of her son: “Some corner of a foreign field, that is forever England”. I think that pretty much describes it all. Another’s last words to her child were “Well done my son”, which I also found extremely emotional. But in fact all these little gravestones tell their own story of loss and how to deal with that. Even more sad is that all these people died for nothing. They didn’t perish in war, they perished building a railroad that was almost completely demolished later. Their work and agony served to nothing. All they were fighting for back then was their lives. I never look forward to visiting such places, but when I return I keep thinking of it for a very long time after I’ve left.
It was pretty quite on the bus when we drove on. Even the couples didn’t think about ordering Shinga.


The next stop is the JEATH war memorial museum, that is very small and old but yet manages to give a good impression of what is was like in the camps back than (if it is even possible to imagine for someone who hasn’t been there). It reminds me a lot of the situations in the European concentration work camps. While not completely the same, there are many similarities and it feels just as horrid.


After all these heavy topics to start the day with, I think our guides feel like doing something fun to break the sad feeling. So at the museum we get into little speedboat like boats to sail to the famous bridge over the river Kwai.

I make sure I’m in a boat with our guide Kim and the couples, as these are the people that make it very clear they want to go fast. As soon as we enter the open waters we ask the sailor for “speed speed speed”, which he doesn’t ignore. We have left last but in no time we overtake all the other boats. We arrive at the bridge with a huge lead. Victory is ours! The bridge itself is what I expected it to be. That is to say, not really special but yet a classic for a tour through Thailand and therefore not to miss. We listen to a bit of extra explanation after arriving, which is interesting, and then we get about 2 hours to walk around. You can’t possibly walk around back and forth over the bridge for two hours, but there are many shops and markets in the area, which apparently are very popular.
Misty morning on the River Kwai
I’ve started to walk over the bridge but I’ve stopped about halfway, at the renovated part, then walked back. I needed to get aside ones because of the little yellow train passing, but apart from that the walk is pretty dull. Not like the bridge isn’t nice, it is just not so very spectacular and basically crowed with tourists. I’m already asked 5 times to pose for a picture with complete strangers today. That is my record up ‘till now. I honestly don’t know why all these crazy Thai people feel like taking a picture with me. Even mothers with children? This is a complete mystery. I encounter Raf on my way to the market and he tells me he has just the same problem. He got on a picture with somewhat 8 schoolgirls just a couple of minutes before, and in the morning an old man with his dog and two grandchildren wanted a picture of him. Is there some sort of competition in Kanchanaburi to have as many photo’s possible with you and a Westerner? Or what is the deal with that? I used to decline the request at first but now I’ve learned you get these people of your back fastest when you just pose for a second and walk on.
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Yet it is still pretty strange…


The market and the shops are a dangerous temptation for my wallet. I walk around telling myself “don’t buy anything, don’t buy anything” than I buy something. Sigh, I have absolutely no authority over my own acting. I bought a hat, which I really need because my scalp skin has started to burn through my hair, and a Buddha image in black stone. I got it at half the price so I thought that justified it. It is a Buddha in the “rejecting the temptations” position (my favorite pose, with one hand touching the ground), which is also extremely apposite. I wonder if it will help be not to buy anything useless anymore in the future, but I doubt it :)


In a station nearby we get on a train to take a ride over the railway of death.

Misty morning on the River Kwai
It is maybe less touristy that a ride over the bridge itself, although the wagon is still crowded. At the most beautiful spots everybody jumps up and starts trying to get a good shot through the window. It is ridiculous to watch, even more because I have obtained a window seat at the good side of the train and don’t have to move at all to take pictures of the landscape. Victory is mine again! This seems to be my lucky day. We have diner in a pretty touristy place not far from were we’ve arrived, but the food wasn’t good at all. The eating area is surrounded with shops however, and despite my Buddha and my good intentions I get on the bus with yet another souvenir. Naughty me.


Our next stop today, will be the ancient Ayutthaya.

Misty morning on the River Kwai


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Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Misty morning on the River Kwai
Tapioca field
Tapioca field
Tapioca field
Tapioca field
Bouncy train
Bouncy train
Sugar cane transport (love these t…
Sugar cane transport (love these …
Kanchanaburi Hotels & Accommodations review
One of the most wonderful hotels I've ever been to
I've written in the title that Felix River Kwai is one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen, and that is definitely true. Actually, I've only s… read entire review
Kanchanaburi
photo by: wbboy29