River Kwai:Made famous by the film, Bridge over River Kwai, the river bank where the Japanese forced their prisoners of war (POWs) to build a 416 km long railway with a loss of 116,000 lives during World War II.
I had gone to this area because of my personal interest in matters relating to World War II, during my first visit to Thailand, when I had gone in part to select places for this spiritual tour. After seeing the atrocities by humans for the suffering of fellow humans, I asked myself “Why?”. We often use “spirituality” in the same breadth as religion. Perhaps spirituality could be the realm when we ask “Why?” in matters relating to our desires, wants and behavior. I certainly have never been so troubled with myself as a human being as when I visited this area.
If there was any place that should be on a spiritual tour, to complete our own spiritual journey, then it should be this.
Kanchanaburiis the site of the world-famous Bridge Over The River Kwae, immortalized in books and movies, and noted for its natural beauty. Mountains and river valleys have allowed easy development of hydro-electric power and the labyrinth of reservoirs enhance natural beauty. Opportunities abound for rustic living aboard rafts on dazzling rivers and reservoirs, and provide the focal point for memorable holidays for nature lovers who delight in natural surroundings and pleasures without sacrificing basic comforts.
Most famous of Bridge Over River Kwai.JPG (25055 bytes)all in this region is The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The black iron bridge was brought from Java by the Japanese Army and reassembled under Japanese supervision by Allied prisoners of war labor at the start of the "Death Railway" linking Thailand with Myanmar. Still in use today, the bridge was partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1945, but now rebuilt. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections.
Additionally, the War Museum located near the River Kwai Bridge, displays the collection of weapons, tools and utensils of the Allied prisoners of war and Japanese soldiers during the Second World War.
The JEATH War Museum derived from Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland was started by monks as a memorial and reminder of all those who died building this railway. On the riverside precincts of Wat Chaichumphon, it has been constructed in the form of an Allied prisoners of war camp. The simple museum depicts a thatched detention hut with cramped, elevated bamboo bunks, and contains photographic, drawings and memorabilia of this period. Most remarkable are sketches made by survivors either after they were liberated or made during their internship and hidden from their guards, showing the way of life during this time.
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery contains the remains of 6,982 prisoners ofgrave.jpg (77021 bytes) war who perished during the construction of the "Death Railway".
The Chong Kai War Cemetery on the bank of the Kwai Noi River, occupies the former site of the Chong Kai Prisoner of War Camp. This cemetery is more peaceful, and contains 1,750 remains.Hell Fire.jpg (93695 bytes)
The well presented Australian War Museum at Hell Fire pass is a new museum, commemorating, and on the site of one of the more difficult mountain passes the POWs had to cut through to build the railway. We will see poignant letters, tools and way of life of the interned.