Early morning wakeup
After the celebration dinner, we all made our way upstairs, and settled into bed. Considering the magnitude and intensity of the events for me, it was not difficult to get to sleep, and I slept well. For Chris and Isabella, they had traveled a great distance the day before, and after arriving at the hotel at about 3:00 AM, they were up at 9:00 AM, in order get breakfast. So, on this day, the next day, they were also tired.
In Toni’s case, she had traveled to Bangkok through Beijing, and then spent the night at a hotel near the airport. But her day had also been disrupted, as she had to wake up after a short sleep, and then make her way back to the airport, in order to meet Yuki, Charles’s girlfriend. The two of them would meet at a kiosk, pick up their driver, and then head to Ayutthaya, to spend the night with us. So, once again, on the evening of the 25th, they were also very tired. Nevertheless, we needed o get up at 5:30, in order to be in the lobby, ready for pickup at 6:20.
The Bridge on the river Kway
Today’s adventure would include travel by Bus, boat, train, and by foot. We expected a hot, and long day, and that’s exactly what we got. But, visiting the bridge was a wonderful experience.
Arghhh, a bus – This is how it all begins
The bridge over the river Kwai, which was featured in the movie of the same name, is in Thailand (Formally Siam), near the border of Myanmar (Formally Burma). To get there, we would need to travel by van from our hotel to the central meeting point, where we’d board a slightly larger van, and drive for several hours towards the river Kwai, where we’d see the bridge, and get a chance to walk on it.
The War Cemetery
Along the way, we’d make a couple of stops, the first was at a 7-11 for coffee and bio functions, but shortly after that, we stopped at the War Cemetery, where Australian, British and Dutch prisoners of war were buried, after they died, as they built the bridge and the railroad.
Conditions for these prisoners were horrific, with most prisoners dieting of disease or Mal-nutrition. The cemetery is maintained and well cared for, and I’ve included some pictures below.
PICTURES OF WAR CEMETERY
The Railroad Museum
Just outside the grounds of the cemetery, is a museum that shows the history of how the railroad was built, but we did not stop there.
The Jeath War (Bamboo) museum
Instead, we continued on to the Bamboo museum, located on the river Kwai, where you could see the conditions that the prisoners endured while building the museum
This museum showed how the prisoners slept, how they were treated, the amount of food they received, and how they got from their prison, to the bridge each day.
The James Bond Boats
On the shores of the river Kwai, just about 100 feet from the Jeath museum, is a boat dock. The boat dock is home to a number of boats, which are called “Tailboats”. These sleek, fast boats were featured in the 1978 James Bond Film called “The man with the golden gun”, which was filmed partially in Thailand, and which showed Bond, piloting one of these boats, on the river Kwai.
Our experience today, would include a ride on such a boat. Our boat would be a little bit longer, and suitable for several people, but it’s basically the same boat, as you can see from the video below.
We started on the dock, taking a few pictures, then we boarded the boat, and began our trip up river.
The ride to the river took only about 7 minutes or so, and along the way, I managed to shoot some videos and stills of the resorts on the side of the river.
The bridge on the river KwaI
The bridge was originally constructed during WWII, using prisoners of war to build the bridge. A movie, by the same name was produced, and received acclaim, but it highlighted only the British prisoners, while we now understand that the Dutch, Australians, and British were all involved.
While at the bridge, we had a chance to walk around, and take a few photos. We also took pictures at the famous railroad station stop, at this very same bridge.
The Death Train
The bridge is a railroad bridge, and the railroad that travels over the bridge on the River Kwai. This railroad is called the Death Railroad. This name comes from two points. First, it is known for being a dangerous mode of transportation, and over the years, there have been some accidents. Second, the railroad was built on the backs of these very same prisoners, many of whom gave their life in the process.
I couldn’t’ resist taking a few photos along the way. Here we are, looking out the window of the train, at the stop just before the end of the line.
The train arrives from the South, into the station, and then in short order, it departs, continues its journey North, and takes us to the end of the line.
The Death Railroad generally flows along the side of a mountain, so one side of the tracks is always facing away from the hillside, while the other faces directly into the hillside. As you ride along the tracks, you will come to 2 or 3 areas, where the railroad is laid down so close to the hillside, that you can touch the rocks of the sheer cliff faces, which were demolished, in order to build the railroad. I’ve captured some video from the window of the train, of how close the cliff-side is.
We purchased the “Enhanced package” which entitles us to a reserved seat on the train, and snacks along the way. The charge for this privilege was about $USD 6/Person, so we were pleased to see that we’d receive snacks, and soft drinks, but as I tried to open the water that I was given, I had some issues.
Fully determined to resolve these issues, I went into Ninja mode, and used a different technique to open my second water container.
We exit the train at the next to the last stop. As this stop, we have a short walk to our lunch area, where we’re given a nice Thai lunch, and enjoy a cold beer, and soft drinks.
Lunch was great, but it’s getting late, and it’s time to head back to Bangkok, where we’ll spend another night in the Riva Surya hotel.
The ride back to the hotel
We’re in a comfortable van, but the ride back was still a difficult trip. We needed to travel to Bangkok, from the end of the railroad line, which is at the border with Burma. So, this is about 150 or more miles, with a great deal of these miles cutting through urban areas, which are pretty congested, and slow us down a lot. In the end, we arrived at the hotel at about 5:30 PM, ending a 4 hour journey.
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow, we’ve hired a driver and a van, to take us to the Wildlife Rescue Reserve, which houses I Love Phants, a section of the reserve dedicated to taking care of Elephants that have had their lives disrupted, and challenged. These elephants have generally been abused, and so the sanctuary takes them in, and let’s them live in peace, while also taking care of their medical and hygiene needs. We’ll travel their on the 27th, and spend the 27th and 28th in a pair of adjoining rooms, located within 10 feet of the Elephants pen. We’ll be able to feed them, groom them, and interact with them in a number of different ways, and we’re all pretty excited about it.