Bridge Over the River Kwai

Judit was set to leave Thailand without having seen the jungle in the north, so we decided to do a day tour to see a bit of the country.  And when it comes to jungle in Thailand there are few things that spring more to mind than the Bridge over the River Kwai, a two hour drive from Bangkok.  Now I think the Death Railway this primarily famous because of some old movie I’ve never seen (cue the comments from indignant old people), but I can attest that the bridge itself looks quite nice-

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For those my age who haven’t seen the movie either, this railway was built in WWII by the Japanese to ferry their supplies from Thailand to Burma.  They built it very quickly by conscripting forced labor from both the local population and P.O.W.s, and as a result tens of thousands of people lost their lives due to exhaustion or disease.  This bridge above is actually a replica of the original- the Americans bombed down the first one- but the Thai railway service still uses the railway line as you’ll see in a bit.

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We walked across the bridge for lack of anything better to do once the “hey, a bridge!” reaction wore off.  I will note that this is the first place I’ve been to in Thailand with such a decidedly older set of tourists, by the way, as they all walk really slowly on the bridge forcing you to go primarily on the rickety side planks if you want to get anywhere at any point soon.

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Adrian defending the bridge in case a war breaks out again.

Then because we are tourists and this is what we do, we rode a few stops on the Death Railway.  The line terminates in a place called Nam Tok a few miles from the border with Myanmar aka Burma, the government there not sympathetic to allowing a rail line with Thailand, and I’m pretty sure the train carriage was twice as old as me, but the view was nice-

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Frankly, the entire thing reminded me a bit of the “little train” near where my grandmother lives in Hungary that goes out to a nice suburb of her city, but with more humidity.  Plus on this train there was a little old Thai lady who handed us each a sticky fig she was eating a bagful of, smiling as we tried to work out how to crack the shell and hesitantly biting into it (not like she knew the English word for fig or we knew the Thai!).

image333One final train shot, of a wooden bridge we crossed that a thousand people apparently died to build.  Just a few plaques, a sobering cemetery, and a rail line still used in memory of those who died constructing it.  Makes you think.

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