Buddha: " Whenever you see things, just see. Whenever you listen, just listen. Whenever you know, just know."
The Bridge over the River Kwai
Mini Tours (Thailand) Excursion
The Bridge over the River Kwai (Kwai Yai or River Kwae Yai), Kanchanaburi (Kanburi), Thailand.
Bridge on the River Kwai Yai - The Mae Klong River (renamed Kwai Yai River in 1960) - Thai-Burma Railway Line.
We visited the Bridge over the River Kwai on a day trip booked through Mini
Tours of Bangkok in October 2007.
With an early start just after 07.00 from outside their office on the Khao San Road, Bangkok.
The journey out took 2 hours in an air-conditioned, 12 seater minibus (including driver) which we shared with 8 other sightseers and the Thai 'English' speaking
The first stop was at the Kanchanaburi (British and Australian) War Cemetery. The cemetery is looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, close to where over 7000 prisoners of war died working on what was colloquially known as 'The Death Railway' are buried. The cemetery is a well kept area and even though visited by hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day and surrounded by busy roads it has an air of peacefulness about it.
The cemetery is right opposite the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, an interactive museum, (small entrance fee applies) with an information and research facility dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma (Death) Railway, built by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII using mainly Allied prisoners of war (POW's) and impressed Asian labourers. The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is a modern fully air-conditioned museum building that offers you, as a visitor, an educational and possibly moving experience.
Kanchanaburi is an interesting place in its self, even if you feel that the bridge construction is a disappointment (personally I didn't). Once away from the tourist
traps at the bridge, Kanchanaburi is a peaceful, relaxing place with unusual floating guesthouses and restaurants.
After half an hour at the Kanchanaburi British and Australian War Cemetery right opposite the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre (not long enough for a
serious visit) we were taken to the museum related to the Japanese, English, Australian, American Thai and Holland Railway (JEATH) - don't know what happened
to the second 'A', and the Official JEATH Museum displays, at an extra cost of 40Bht per person, with representation buildings, historic information, art and genuine artifacts all from this abominable period of world history. The present day steel railway 'Bridge over the River Kwai' is a short walk from the museum. You wouldn't be the first (Allied) tourist to perform the ritual of marching across it, whistling Colonel Bogey’s March (Hitler Has Only Got One Ball)!
As part of our excursion we were taken by minibus to a railway station at Tha Kilen, once on the route of the Thailand to Burma (Death) Railway, now owned by
the State Railway of Thailand, for a train journey along the Kwai Yai river valley to Ko Maha Mongkol (five stops - about 3/4 hour at a non-included cost of
50Bht per person) to experience the difficult terrain that the track follows. With views of the River Kwai Yai from high above the river course.
We were then back in the minibus for a short journey to a thatch roofed refectory style restaurant where we were treated to a great lunch of boiled rice; Thai green curry, sweet
and sour chicken, stir-fried vegetables and an omelet (drinks not included but reasonably priced). Time to get to know our fellow travellers a bit and discuss the morning's highlights.
The morning over and well refreshed, we were then taken to see a pair of waterfalls at the Sai Yok Waterfalls National Park. This a free to enter and well patronised area of outstanding natural
beauty where we saw many Thais picnicking, relaxing and playing, if you had time, you could relax and bathe in the cool mountain stream below the falls. You couldn't swim there as the water is not deep
A few of the members of our excursion party had booked a short (half hour) elephant trek as part of their booked Kanchanaburi experience day and as a result we visited the Elephant Camp not far from the
falls or the main river and although we did not ride the elephants we were allowed to interact with them and feed them while we waited. The Elephant Camp has evening or morning elephant treks where you can bathe (with) the elephants at the river side but that would involve staying overnight in Kanchanaburi town.
Finally we were given the opportunity (at extra cost) to take a long-tailed boat trip (about 10 minutes upstream) and a raft trip (about 20 minutes downstream)
with a walk over a rickety suspension bridge over the River Kwai Yai.
The return journey to Bangkok's Khao San Road took almost three hours as we had been progressively moving towards the Myanmar (Burma) border, the surrounding hills and mountains.
A great day out and fantastic value for money.