Bridge on the river Kwai

Trip Start Jul 11, 2010
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Trip End Apr 22, 2011


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Flag of Thailand  , Kanchanaburi,
Friday, November 12, 2010

After a two and a half hour journey from Bangkok, we made our way to Kanchanaburi, north west of Bangkok.  The area has been made infamous for the Death railway built by the allied POW's during WWII and of course the Bridge over the river Kwai.  After dropping off our bags in our riverside room, we walked down towards the bridge, stopping off at the museum on the way...we can't really be sure of some of the accuracy of some of the information in the museum though but it is worth a look for some of the old photographs - the part that states 'original bridge over the river kwai' we are sure is not real though as at other part of the museum it tells us that none of the bridge survives today and it's held up by concrete which cannot be authentic.....

We walked down to the replacement bridge which was erected in 1946 due to the original bridge being destroyed by allied bombers in March 1945 - the replacement bridge also being built by the allies and sold to the Thai government after the end of the war.  Today, the bridge is seen as a tourist attraction, we found it pretty weird how there was a psychedelic painted 'happy train' providing trips across the bridge for 20 baht each in spite of the history behind it, still it is definitely worth going to see and taking it all in sitting at the floating restaurant on the river next to the bridge was very relaxing.

The area of Kanchanaburi itself is a breath of fresh air from the hustle bustle of Bangkok, the people are friendlier, the streets are quieter, you are left alone to do your own thing and even the soi dogs are more relaxed! Food is cheaper and more authentic (Mangusteen cafe and bookshop was our favourite) although of course it still caters for the tourist industry...I think 'Del Boy's bar' gave that away straight away!  We were only staying for a couple of nights so to made the most of our time we booked up a trip from one of the many that were being sold for the next day to go to Erewan waterfalls, Elephant Trekking, Bamboo Rafting, a trip on the death railway and then back to the river Kwai, as the attractions are quite spread out, it was probably the cheapest and most economical way to make the most of our time in Kanchanaburi and the prices seemed reasonable for all that we got.

We were picked up in the morning and made our way to Erewan waterfalls in the mountains of Kanchanaburi, the drive was about 2hrs but well worth it when we were there - there are seven waterfalls in total and it takes about 4hrs to get up and down from number 7 so we went up to 5 which was definitely enough for my little legs and limited trekking abilities! There is the option to swim as well if you want and get a free 'fish massage' (the fish will nibble the bits of dry skin of your feet' but we didn't fancy that and all the German's in their speedo's were putting us off! After another 1 hours drive we went bamboo rafting which was very peaceful and provided time to just sit and take in all the beauty of the mountains, our guide Dow who was from Kanchanaburi told us that it is the 3rd biggest city in Thailand but is two thirds mountains so we got to see all the great views Thailand has to offer.  After that we had an elephant trek...now that is an experience, I'm not sure if it is one we would repeat in a hurry but an experience nether the less - IT WAS SCARY!!! Our elephant decided to go to the toilet in the river whilst we were on it and nearly submerged us, and we felt like we would be flung off nearly every other minute...there was something a little bit sad about it all too, I don't think if I was an elephant I would like having to walk about with these strange people on my back!

We then made the drive to the infamous 'Death railway' so called because of all the people who died whilst building it - so much so that the locals have out a Buddha in the cave next to the railway (which was a hospital in war times) for all the spirits who are left around the railway - apparently local people could hear all the spirits at night before the Buddha was erected. The original railway tracks can be seen in between the tracks that are now used, the railway no longer goes all the way to Burma and is now only used as a local line for the Kanchanaburi area.  If you want you are able to walk down the tracks to get some photographs, I wouldn't recommend this for anyone who is scared of heights, I didn't go but Rob did and took some great photos.  After the war, Thai people used the original death railway to Burma for main transport instead of using the river but today it is seen as uneconomical.  We took the local train over the death railway and after that made our way back to the Bridge over the river Kwai to end the day.  An exhausting day but well worth the trip and made all the better by the Singa beer before bed time. 

After a good night sleep - I think a mixture of the river location and being away from the city, we sat by the river outside our room and took in the view - the most relaxed we'd been for a long time.  Then after our last visit to Mangusteen cafe we made the journey back to Bangkok and the smog...where we write this from now...

On the a funny side, Kanchanaburi offers some potentially great X-Factor candidates for Simon Cowell from the many Karaoke bars...maybe one of you could let him know......
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Comments

chantal williams on

Looks like you're having a great time!!!! I can just imagine you screaming after that elephant kissed you!! take care xxxx

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