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Published: June 16th 2006
Our Rickshaw driver
This bloke had the biggest calf muscles!
Today we went to Kanchanaburi instead of doing a one day tour that would have cost 900Baht each, we opted to go on the public bus which cost just 99Baht each - bargain!! The bus drivers are no better at diving than the taxi drivers, after 2 white knukle hours we arrived in Kanchanaburi, which of course is infamous for the Bridge over the river Kwai, built by POWs in the WWII. From the bus stop e had to make our way to the bridge which was 6 km away, we were offered a good deal by a local rickshaw cyclist, so we couldn't resist. Only when we got to the rickshaw did we realise that it was probably built for children to ride in it! But the driver was adamant that he was fine to take us - so we squashed our big backsides into this tiny seat. We laughed all the way there and had many funny looks from the locals, it was a really hot day so we kept the driver hydrated with 2 bottles of water and gave him a hansome tip. We had a bite to eat on the floating restaurant, unless you are in a
Ollie in the Richshaw
Can you believe that the two of us were sat on that seat!!!!
big group we wouldn't recommend it as the service wasn't great and little birds kept pooing in our food-yuk! After eating Ollie bought himself a river Kwai hat to keep the sun off his head - what a tourist! We then ventured onto the track to walk over the bridge (only 1/3 of the bridge is part of the original - the rest was restored). As a former Safety Manager on the Railway, i felt like i was trespassing, i also conducted a full risk assessment (to Ollie's annoyance) and decided half way across it was not fit for public use but then i decided what the hell, what does it matter if there are no safety rails and a foot gap where anyone could easily plummet into the river below (Mom and Auntie B can't stand walking on the Blackpool piers because they hate seeing the water below - i think this would have finished them off)!!!! On the other side of the bridge it was less touristy and came across our first elephant. It was only young and chained to the ground and we were asked if we wished to feed the elephant for a 100Baht, we declined
because it was clearly bored and was being used to make money.
For a comprehensive history of the bridge the Jeath Museum is worth a visit, it was upsetting to read several accounts of the POWs desperation to stay alive in such harsh working conditions. One significant piece that stuck in our mind was the cruelty of the Japanese army. During an air raid in 1945 the Japanese forced all the POWs to get onto the bridge and wave to the approaching bomber in a desperate act that would hopefully prevent the bridge from being destroyed, the soldiers waved in vain but many knew their fate. Several bombs were dropped onto the bridge. The pilot carried out his order even though he knew he was to kill many of his allies. It was said 100s of POWs were killed or injured and reports suggest the river turned red for several days after the bombings. However the bridge had 2/3 damage which was able to put a stop to the Death Railway between Bangkok and Burma. We couldn't imagine how they coped working in such heat - we found it difficult just walking around!!
The only way back to
the bus station is on the back of a motorcycle taxi, so if you visit the bridge and do not fancy this kind of transport, start walking onto the main road back to the station and pick up trucks will swiftly beep and want your custom - this is also a very very cheap way of getting back (it cost us 4 Baht each).
At the bus station i decided to use there toilets and just as i dreaded it was a squat toilet! I got in the cubicle and just looked at this thing, i hadn't got a clue what to do, i was thinking of turning back but it was going to be another 2 hours to Bangkok, luckily for me the toilets were really clean as you had to pay to use them, so i perched on the edge and went for it - i managed not to pee on myself - Why can't they have normal loos?!
Hope you are all ok, we are really enjoying all the comments and messages that you have left on our other blogs,
Hope to hear from you soon
Amy & Ollie x
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