The Bridge on the River Kwai

 

 

 

 

 

I hadn't been to the River Kwai/Kanchanaburi area for decades so I hired a car and driver to make a day trip out of it and to get away from the computer.  I had been hearing rumors that there was indeed land beyond the Golden Triangle of Nana Plaza/Soi Cowboy/Washington Square.  And sure enough there is!  These photographs are from the main cemetery in Kanchanaburi.  When you think of the suffering the Japanese and the jungle put those young guys through until they died, it is incredible.  Next column I will have photographs of both of the museums dedicated to that period of World War II.  The column after that, the great Nakorn Pathom chedi.  The suburbs around Bangkok are anything but attractive but once through that, you begin to spot long stretches with trees and eventually hills and small mountains.  The air is better and everything seems fresher.  Yes, there is land beyond the Golden Triangle.

 

The Bridge on the River Kwai

 

 

 

 

 

Should you go, the journey to the bridge only takes a bit over two and a half hours to three hours by car, depending on Bangkok traffic which depends on what time of day you started out.  Start out early in the morning, beating the morning traffic, and you will be there in no time.  There are two museums but the one by the cemetery in Kanchanaburi does not allow photography inside.  It is however very much worth a visit and even has some film footage as well as dioramas, photographs, and material that prisoners owned during their brutal captivity.  The War Museum near the bridge does allow photography and it too is certainly worth the 40 baht entrance charge.  Of course, in the film Bridge on the River Kwai, the bridge was blown up but in reality it was bombed from the air.  When Allied planes arrived to bomb the bridge, the Japanese lined up hundreds of prisoners on the bridge so that when the bombs came a great number of prisoners died.  I don't know if you can read the writing in the dust on the car's windshield but it says, "I wish my wife was this dirty."  The stagecoach was also used by the Japanese to transport men or material to one of the camps.  Not sure about the Mercedes and I don't know the year but it sure is a neat one.  The rifles are percussion and there are German weapons from World War II as well as large wall paintings of every Miss Thailand up till about 2000 when they ran out of wall space.  Plan ahead?  Quit your kidding.  This is Thailand.  If you click on the last picture you will see some Thai heroines who repelled a Burmese invasion.  By the way, in the movie the prisoners whistle the Colonel Boogie March while they are marching.  I thought that was added for the movie, but in interviews with former prisoners they said they did whistle that, apparently, they sang it with the words and the Japanese thought it was nice.  Go figure.