Monday, 15 November 2010

Kanchanaburi and the death railway

Saturday (13.11.) morning we jumped on the train towards Kanchanaburi province, which is famous for it's natural beauties as limeston hills, caves, waterfalls and jungle as well as the dark times during WWII when Japanese forces used Allied prisoners of war and conscripted Southeast Asian labourers to build a rail route to Burma - the death railway. The 7:35 train from Bangkok arrived in NamTok about 12:40. At NamTok a Songthaou (small public bus) brought us to the Sai Yok Noi waterfall. At first I was very disappointed due to the mass of tourists at this place. But if you walk pass the wide waterfall and the swimming pool (just 50m), you get to a more lonely second waterfall, which looked much more impressive to me. It was much fun to walk on the stones, which were covered by falling water. It looked extremely slippery as a thin layer with a few centimeters of water was running over the limestone rocks. But you could walk perfectly on it. We left our bags with a nice old lady who we met on the train and made our way to climb the waterfall a little :) It was much fun, but we had to be careful not to get wet due to carrying electronics.
Then we caught a northwest bound bus and continued to the Hellfire Pass memorial. The museum is set above a particularly gruesome section of the Death Railway, Hellfire Pass was a cutting that was said to glow in a hellish colour under torchlight. The memorial remembers of 100.000 civilian labourers from Southeast Asia and 15.000 Allied prisoners of war that died due to the gruel conditions they had to work under. But we were a bit short on time, so we only watched the museum and postponed the walking trail to the next day.
After a bus ride to Kanchanaburi city we checked in SugarCane guesthouse and stayed a night on the river Kwai. The city and river are famous due to the movie "Bridge over the river Kwai".
Sunday morning we went sightseeing the famous railway bridge over the river Kwai and the Allied war cemetery. About 12:30pm we made our way to the Hellfire Pass memorial again, arriving 2:30pm. But unluckily that was too late to do the whole 4 km walking trail which should last about 3h, seeing that the museum closed at 4pm. So we only took a short route to see the actual Hellfire Pass, or Konyu Cutting, and finally enjoyed the view from the lookout over the Kwae Noi Valley towards Myanmar.
The trip to Kanchanaburi was awesome. Great weather and awesome views helped to bear digging into dark, gruel history.

Sam Yok Noi Waterfall

Sunday morning on Kwai river

enjoying weather and view :)

The famous bridge over the river Kwai

Everything connected to the death railway gets a lot attention here.
Allied war cemetery

View over Kwae Noi Valley from the museum

Hellfire Pass - Konyu Cutting

View from Kwae Noi Valley Lookout towards Myanmar

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