WWII

Bridge On the River Kwai

Basic background

Whilst on a visit to Thailand 2006, I decided to visit the Bridge On the River Kwai.  The Thailand to Burma railway also know as (The Death Railway).  Built in 1943, 218 miles (415 km) long between Ban Pong, Thailand and Thanbyulanyat, Burma under the control of the Japanese during WW II.  The primary objective was to improve communication and support to the Japanese forces in Burma.

The Labour force consisted of between 180,000  –  250,000 Asian civilians and 61,000 allied prisoners of war.  Approximately 13,000 POW’s and 100,00 civilians lost their lives during construction, following in the footsteps of these soldiers and civilians I arrive at the Bridge on the river Kwai.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai

When you consider the length and size of the railway it is little wonder that so many lost their lives during its construction, not only was they worked hard, they had to do so under extreme condition, little food and constant ill-treatment from the Japanese.

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Walking across the bridge

The actual bridge is constructed of steel as you can see here, unlike the epic war movie (The Bridge On the River Kwai) 1957 staring Alec Guinness in which the bridge is of wooden construction, but still a great movie. (See end of post for links)

Cost and other sites in the area

Following in the footsteps of these soldiers I took a mini bus from Bangkok to the site for a cost of £20.00, this did include a very unstable looking raft ride on the river as well as the elephant sanctuary and lunch.

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The raft
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Elephant sanctuary

You can go for a ride on the elephants if you wish, I did, it was ok once you realised that you will not fall off…..lasted about 25 minutes and its included.  Anyway, back to the bridge, below you will find a map of its location, click on map to view in google maps.

Kwai map

If you take the mini bus from Bangkok as I did you will be dropped off just around the corner from the bridge, here you will also find a WWII museum which will cost you £1.00 entry fee and worth the time taking a look, see picture below.

 

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As you come out of the museum you turn left to the bridge, only a few minutes walk but you will pass a covered market on the left where you will find a very friendly Leopard.  I spent about 30 minutes with him, you can buy food for him from the owner at £1.50 bag.

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So once you have had a good look around the bridge, either take your mini bus to the Thai  –  Burma cemetery, if your walking you head straight off the bridge westerly until you come to a main road.  Turn right and the cemetery is about 10 minutes walk, you will also find the Thai  –  Burma centre which is worth a visit, its dedicated to the railway, see map below.

Kwai war mem map

 

I used Bangkok as my base for this trip, it took about 2.5 hours to drive here from the city.  It’s not for everyone but there is plenty of hotels up in the northern provinces of Thailand which will make it closer if you don’t fancy the bus ride, oh they do have air/con so it’s quite pleasant on the ride to and from Bangkok.

Final notes

Just a few safety tips, in Thailand you will find hundreds of people with the hard luck story… be aware they are generally scamming you.  I never travel with any kind of jewellery and I wear a low-cost watch.  I also use a top up credit card when travelling, easy to get and if you do lose it or its stolen, you have only lost the money that is on it.  You can top these up from your main bank account online or get a family member to do it for you back home whenever you need more cash.

see my full photo’s here

Safety in Thailand is generally OK, be respectful to their culture and you should have a great visit…..

So I have found this tour which is very similar to the one I took… looks like great value too, to view and book the tour use this link: click on picture below

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below is a selection of the Film (Bridge on the River Kwai) Starring Alec Guinness click on the film to select it...

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And below is a selection of related books: click on your selection

True story B.O.R.kwai book                                          Bridge on kwai Book