At the end of my Christmas break, I had a few extra days to travel so I decided to go to Kanchanaburi to see the Death Railway. I took the bus to Kanchanaburi city and then walked towards town on the river to find a place to stay.
I found a nice little place on the river at a guesthouse. The owner who didn’t speak a lot of English was in the middle of trying to explain to some Russians that there minivan that was 5 minutes late to pick them up was in fact coming and that he couldn’t make it get there any faster as it had to pick up other passengers.
Since I quickly figured out what the problem was I sat in the corner waiting for my room to be cleaned with a smile on my face. The owner came over and started complaining to me(in thai) about the Russians. I don’t really know exactly what he was saying to me but I got the jist of the conversation which was basically that he thinks just as highly of Russians as every other person in Pattaya.
After they had my room set up, I started off to go see the River Kwai bridge that was built through POW forced labor by the Japanese. I went to the war museum on the way. The museum was dark, empty and creepy quiet. There were life size models depicting dead men floating in a river of red after the bridge was bombed during construction. This museum made the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. seem tame.
I made it to the bridge just in time for sunset. The beauty of the sunset over the bridge was almost enough to shake the depressing museum I had just witnessed. As I was just about to leave the train rolled across the bridge returning from the north.
At 5 am the next morning I was awake and pounding pavement towards the train station. I got a ticket on the first train up north through the section known as death railway and ending shortly before Hellfire pass.
The train ride started with a beautiful view of the Thai country side. It then quickly changed into a maze of crazy bridges, twists and turns on pieces of railroad that looked quite unstable. Looking down you could see nothing below you except the very small track attached to long poles put in the ground far below. It is no wonder so many men died in the building of the railroad. The railroad was built so the Japanese could quickly move supplies to connect their reign on Southeast Asia with no regard to the terrain that had to be built over.
After a scary ride up to the end of the railroad, I set off to pound some more pavement and get out to the main road to catch a bus to Hellfire pass. I got off the bus and walked into the park.
The museum at Hellfire pass was just as creepy and depressing as the museum the day before, however it was slightly less graphic and more based on writings and factual numbers.
I then started out on the path towards the pass specifically known as Hellfire pass. Hellfire pass was one of the most difficult passes for the POW’s to build through as there was a lot of rock to be passed through. Work was often performed through the night by torch light by men who were skin and bones creating the illusion that the men were working in Hell(which in all honesty they were pretty near close).
The pass had an unexplainable eeriness to it. Knowing that so many men had died here due to crustily, malnutrition and pure exhaustion created a strangeness to the place that friends who have also been here claimed to have noticed as well.