Lest we forget
Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
16Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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What I did
The weather today was cloudy & around 32c with rain for about an hour late afternoon.
Today we did the Hellfire pass tour, organised thru 'Tour with Tong' again, Charlee was our guide & he picked us up at 7am for a 3 Hr drive to Kanchanburi. Because we were a returning client Tong supplied Charlee with a luxurious SUV for us to travel in which was very nice. Stopped at Maccas along the way for a coffee & will mention how clean & comfortable the Maccas are in Thailand. Di may been a little hungover as well.
Our first stop was 'JEATH war museum' 'JEATH' stands for Japan-English-Australian/American-Thailand-Holland, which is a museum about the involvement of the above in the building of the 'Death Railway' between Burma to Bangkok, i won't give you a history lesson but as the day went along we more moved by the sacrifice of our brave young soldiers, The museum is in buildings resembling the camps that POW's lived in & filled with artifacts & articles in regards to the Death railway
The next stop was the Death railway research museum which is located opposite the war cemetery at Kanchanburi, again an interesting place. It is also a research place where you can trace your loved ones & locate their records. It looks at the engineering of the railway, the difficulties that had to be overcome & the struggle for survival.
We then took a ride on a train on part of the death Railway between Thakilin Station to Tham konsae Bridge, again appreciating the hardships faced by the POW's, Charlie was waiting for us at the end, and we drove to an area & fed some wild monkeys some sweets.
We travelled onto the Sir Weary Dunlop Museum which is located at Home Phu Toey resort located in a beautiful part of Khrae Noi valley, Weary Dunlop was an Australian Doctor who helped many POW's & saved many lives. weary endured many beatings to protect his men. He was respected by all men & even the Japanese respected him. The land for the park was donated by the owner of the resort Khun Wanachote, a Thai millionaire who had become friends with Weary on one of Wearys pilgrimages to the area. The museum is private & you will need to contact the resort to access the park
We then travelled onto Hellfire pass museum, which is an Australian built complex situated at Konyu cutting (Hellfire Pass). It has a memorial walking trail of about 4Kms along the section of the railway which was the most difficult terrain in the 415Km railway. 400 Australian POW's commenced work on this section on the 25th of April 1943. The cutting is 110Mts long 17Mts Deep, made out of solid granite.Forced to work at night, Konyu cutting was nicknamed 'Hellfire pass' because of the mixture of hammering noise, lighting from fires, oil fired bamboo torches & carbide lamps that created an eerie illumination hat looked like fires from hell.
Hellfire pass is located 250mts from the museum & is accessed by a wooden stairway or a bamboo path, the latter is the way the POW's would have travelled. If you want to walk the whole trail of 4km's you need to let the museum know. Walking thru the cutting you can still see broken drill bits embedded in the granite, again a very sombre feeling. Di of course didn't take the trek as her toe was very sore, it was a hard walk back up from the cutting
We then travelled to the same restaraunt we went to last year, pak wan ban, for a late lunch. We probably over ordered, but the servings were huge! We enjoyed Spring rolls, Fish cakes, Prawns, Chicken Fried rice, green Curry Chicken & 2 large Singhas for about 700b ($23) It was up there with the best Thai food i've had & wasn't dumbed down for tourists. As you can see by the pics, we didn't finish the meal but gave the left overs to Charlee.
Then a 3.5Hr drive back to bangkok & we arrived back around 7:30PM, We had a fantastic time with Charlee & gave him a decent tip, he does go on & on at times but is very informative. He use to work for the FBI. The 2 tours with 'Tour with Tong"' cost around 6000b, they are private tours so you can adjust the itinerary to suit yourself. I would highly recommend Tong to anyone travelling to Bangkok.
We didn't need dinner, so i went out & got Di another Magnum ice-cream (Why are they so good here?) & worked on blog.
In closing, to summarize the hellfire pass tour, i found it to be very moving experience, i knew little of the Death Railway, we all would know Bridge over River Kwai etc etc but we are both now more enlightened to the sacrifices & hardships of the men & women who served. Sir Weary Dunlop believed that Hellfire pass is just as significant as Gallipoli i tend to agree & i would like to tell you the inscription on Sir Weary Dunlops memorial :
'When you go home, tell them of us and we gave our tomorrow for your today'
Lest we forget..........