Children of Laos, Burma & Thailand

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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

58. Bridge over the River Kwai

Today is my last day in Kanchanaburi and I was feeling very disappointed because I hadn't seen the bridge, museum or cemetery and I thought what a great pity that would be - I mean, how many people go to Kanchanaburi and don't see the famous (or rather infamous) Bridge over the River Kwai? Not many, I'll bet.
Plus, I really did want to see it and not just to tick it off on my itinerary.

I decided to ask if the driver I'd booked to take me to the money changers would be able to take me around the town and after a brief discussion with the lady at the travel agency, it was agreed I would pay 120 baht. I was happy with this, after all, it was going to cost me 50 baht just to change currency and be driven back to the guesthouse and I reckoned 120 baht was a pretty good deal. So - that was that problem settled.

Above: Bridge over the River Kwai
View of the Bridge from the Kanchanaburi side. The curved spans are 1943 originals, the two straight spans replaced ones damaged by US bombs in 1945.

The Bridge
Internationally famous, courtesy of Hollywood films and books, this black iron bridge was brought from Java by the Japanese and assembled by Allied prisoner-of-war labour as part of the Death Railway linking Thailand with Burma. Still in use today, the bridge was the target of frequent Allied bombing raids during World War II and was rebuilt after war ended. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections. The daily train is still following the historical route from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok Railway Station.

Above: Close-up of the bridge

Above: Monks
On the Bridge over the River Kwai seen from the Kanchanburi end. All trains call at River Kwai Bridge station, located about 200 metres before the bridge, a few minutes after leaving Kanchanaburi. The Bridge is now surrounded by cafes, restaurants, souvenir stalls etc. You can walk over the bridge, even though it's still used by three trains each way every day.

Above: Tourists
Tourists walking across the Bridge. River Kwai Bridge station is in the far background, just before the bridge.

Above: Inscription
This is inscribed on a wall near the east bank of the Bridge over the River Kwai.

Above: Views from the bridge

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