Before I came to the Death Railway, I have seen countless of pictures and videos, the urge to see the real thing was forever strong. On the day itself, at 7am we were already at the hotel lobby eagerly waiting for the arrival of the tour bus.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
The was a long one, it took us 2.5 hours to be at the first stop: Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
The Thai-Burma Railway was infamously called as Death Railway because of the thousands of people who died unnecessarily in the construction of the railway at the border. The dead was eventually buried in this cemetery.
The Death Railway was built to transport men and supplies for the Japanese who were then fighting with the British in Burma. The 415km railway went through mountains and deep valleys, with more than 200,000 labourers involved, mostly forced labour and POWs. Work began in June 1942 and completed in October 1943. The poor working condition and treatment led to the death of tens of thousands of civilians and another 12,000 POWs.
JEATH War Museum
A 15 minutes journey brought us to JEATH War Museum. JEATH is the acronym for the primary nations involved in the construction of Death Railway, namely Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland.
The museum is housed in a small and cramped bamboo hut, which is exactly how the POW( Prisoner Of War) lived then.
The introduction was a 10 minutes video on the construction of the Death Railway and the tragedy after.
Thereafter, it was multiple photographic and pictorial of Second World War, focusing mainly on the living condition of the POW.
Many of the pictures were too gruesome to be seen. Still, we need to see it to learn this dark episode of human history.
The entrance fee to the museum is THB$50 or USD$1.44
Another 15 minutes journey, and the highlight of the tour eventually came when we reached the Death Railway.
The iron bridge has been modified to include a walkway and several side platforms.
I was a little disappointed, as the bridge looks quite clean and modern to the extend that it looks so unreal.
I thought the bridge was too nicely done today to aroused any terrible feeling of the horrible war……
Event has happened and history has been made, in the end I saw no emotion of sadness, it was all joy and laughter as visitors indulged themselves in their selfie and wefie. Let’s move on.
The Death Railway aside, the surroundings was a beautiful scenery and noisy make-shift markets.
Minutes before we left, the train arrived and became an instant hit with the tourists!
It’s great to be able to see the Death Railway, but the horrifying weather is too punishing for any living things. At 42 degree celsius( Fahrenheit 107.6), many tourists lost interest in the attraction, they simply walk through the pace, have a few shots of it and move away. Only the locals could get used to the burning heat. On the return journey back to Bangkok later, many were sweating heavily even though we were in an air-conditioned van!
Another 20 minutes brought us to the Elephant’s World. This was the first time I had a ride on elephant’s back. It was quite fun,
The scary part is when the elephant went down the slope or uneven place, and the sedan-like seat shook left and right likened to a ride at Universal Studios. I got to hold tight to the handle to keep myself from falling. But if I who has height phobia find no problem with it, then most should enjoy it.
After the elephant’s ride, we were brought to the other side for water. Nothing in particular to mention about, what they did was put us on a huge bamboo raft, have a boat drag the raft to the upper stream of the river and let it flow down the river.
A woman was at the front to paddle and control the direction of the raft. Strangely she has no smile and utter no words from beginning till end. A totally wasteful ride and a 30 minutes is lost in my life with this ride.
30 minutes later, we were brought to a restaurant for a buffet lunch. It was already 2.30pm then.
By the time we returned back to our hotel in Bangkok, it was already near to 7pm.
The whole tour cost us THB$1,200 ( USD$34.57) per person, I thought it’s quite expensive. Those who are on a budget can actually go to the bus station near Victory Monument Station to get a ride out, it cost just a few dollars, but you would have to find your way to all other attractions mentioned above.
The easiest way is to hop into any travel agencies and booked one from them. Do not book through the hotel, as you know, they charges a much higher price for a similar package.
Lastly, for those who are still interested in going to the famous Tiger Temple, be reminded that it has since shut down. A month after my visit, sometime in May 2016, the police raided the temple on suspicion of illegal trading of tigers, many of the monks were arrested. It confirmed a long suspicion that the temple is doing illegal trading of tigers, which is one of the reason why we did not choose to go. If you have paid to go for such tour, you are encouraging them to continue the illegal trade!