Bridge over the river Kwai

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January 13th 2010
Published: January 28th 2010
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We were picked up at 7:00 from the front of our guest house for our day tour, and after picking everyone else up we started to drive out of Bangkok and hopped to get away from the pollution. The pollution was more evident than ever when we gained some height from the city overpass. It hung like a thick blanket everywhere and the visibility was lucky to be 1km. We drove for around 1 ½ hours until we got to the war memorial where over 7000 men were buried from the second world war against the Japanese. We only stoped for an hour before we were back in our van flying down the highway. After ½ hour we stop at a war museum which is only 100m from the Bridge on the river Kwai. We paid 40THB each for the entry fee and looked at some old photos and ammunitions. There was not allot of things in the museum but because it was cheap I would still recommend seeing it. We spent 20min in the museum and walked over the bridge which is still being used today. It is a very photogenic bridge but if you are a serious photographer you will have to come early or when there is no tourist around. Halfway over the bridge the train turned up and we all had to move to the safety platforms along bridge. I decided to be smart and lay my video camera in the middle of the tracks as the train rolled over head. I worked really well and the end result was very cool but a quarter of the way through, one single drop of oil landed on the lens of the camera and spoiled the whole shot. It was incredible to think out of 20 carriages the only drop of oil that ever fell landed right on the lens, that will teach me for being smart. We then left to catch the train after only staying on the bridge for 15min. The van driver had to race for the train after a Spanish couple turned up late for the van. 1/2hour later and we were at the train station boarding the train just in a knick of time. The train tickets were extra and you could go first class which cost 150THB each this included a drink and nibbles but we chose to be tight and go second class for 100THB each which is basically just the train ride. We were on the train for 40min riding the actual tracks that paved the way from Burma in 1942 and so many slaves and war prisoners died at the hands of the Japanese. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections. An estimated 16,000 war prisoners and 49,000 impressed labourers died during the construction of the bridge and the Death-Railway line that leads to Burma. The railway was 415km long and built from scratch in just 16 months. The total labour force consisted of about 68,000 Allied POWs and 200,000 Asian labourers. The combined death toll was around 96,000, of which 18,000 were Allied POWs. Consider for just a moment how these human beings died, where they died and, above all, why they died. Allot of Australians died building the rail line and it was hard to believe that I was standing on important part of history and the WWII. I also was surprised from the scenery around the Kwai River as it was very dry. We touched the edge of the river several times along the train ride and it was easy to take photos just by hanging out from the lower platform step of the train door. You wouldn’t be caught dead doing this back in Australia. We finished the ride and stopped at a roadside eatery for lunch that was included in the day tour package. We each got a plate of rice and one big plate of sweet and sour chicken, fried veggies, and fried omelette to share between five of us, there was more than enough delicious food to go around.
Our last stop was the Saiyoknoi water fall, the others were taken to the Tiger Temple and Elephant trekking which were included in their tour but we did not want to do. So we had 2hours to kill at the water fall and with no directions where to go or what to do we wandered off to find it ourselves. It wasn’t hard to find and it was a very unusual water fall in that all the rock from the waterfall looked like smooth lime stone or best described like smooth larva flow. It was pretty cool and we kept walking up the trail until we came up the top of the water fall. There was also a sign saying water fall source 800m so we kept walking slowly looking around and we came to the back of the massive mountain of limestone where the freshwater stream just came right out from the rocks, it was almost like there was a blown water pipe in behind the rocks as the water just came from nowhere. In this small pond only 1.5m in length there where fish everywhere and I squashed up some fresh figs that I collected downstream and through it in the water. The fish came up and smashed the fig to smithereens and my best guess was they were very hungry. We then came across another sign say cave 1350m and because we stuffed around so much we didn’t have time to go to the caves, if we had of been told this information prior we could of fit everything in. We walked back disappoint and on the way back we walk through plantations of trees and fruit trees. I noticed a ladder up one of these trees and it had seed pods hanging down from the branches. I tasted the dried fruit inside and it had a sweet sour taste, we later found out it was Tamarind, a fruit that is used for cooking curry’s and soups. A quick photo of the fig trees on the way back and we waited for the bus to turn up. We picked up our passenger from the tiger temple and headed back to Bangkok. The whole way the visibility never changed and it was just as smoky and smoggy in the country as it was in the city. All in all it was a good day and worth the 650THB/ person we paid for the day trip plus the 140THB/ person for the extras.

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