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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Bridge Over The River Kwae

Feeling a little tired from the flight and more than a little disoriented by the well below legal-limit of passengers chattering away inside the bus we found ourselves rumbling across Bangkok's skyline. We were edging our way slowly towards the Khao San road weaving in out amongst the towering buildings lining the 'Autobahn of the Sky'.

Within a few moments of landing on the Khao San road I knew it was time to hide all of our cash and slice up the credit cards for it looked like the next episode in our Asian Adventure would be called : "Myra (and Graham) in Trinket Trouble"! It took only a minute or two and they had us completely surrounded - "Tuk-Tuk?", "Bracelet?", "David Hasselhoff CD?" - before I knew it a Net and a Trident had been hurled in and a strange chant had begun ...

Having made good our escape the previous night we decided to visit the "Bridge Over The River Kwae", a short bus journey away. As the bus station was a wee bit too far away to walk to with all our gear we flagged down what we thought to be a Tuk-Tuk but which in actual fact turned out to be a Speeder-Bike! Carving an unbelievably insane path through the traffic I can only assume that the Force was strong with this one (stronger than the state of our stomachs by the end of it anyway!).

Another quiet bus journey (boy I'm missing those Sri Lankan sardine tins!) and we were rambling along a rickety pathway across the river to our stilt-supported cabin complete with a hammock swaying lazily in the evening breeze. A little way upstream we could see the bridge itself spanning the river; umpteen metal and concrete legs sprouting from the river bed to form enormous arches with a central connecting walkway.

Waterfalls, railways, trains and minibuses were the order of the next few days. Along with Deuce Bigalow, our minibus gigolo, we bumped and grinded along the dusty tracks from one venue to another.

Erewan waterfalls, an amazing seven tiered waterfall, was our morning ramble. Each tier is separated by a couple of hundred metres (mostly horizontal!) with most of the falls offering an opportunity for swimming, diving, fish nibbling and dragonfly swatting!

Our bus then took us from heaven to hell, or more precisely, to the Hellfire Pass. The Hellfire Pass is a 75 metre section of the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) railway line that was carved from the bed rock to a depth of 25 metres by prisoners of war under the 'supervision' of the Japanese army. Using only the most basic of hand tools the men worked around the clock to complete the railway (estimated to take five years by a previous British survey) in just sixteen months.

A museum has been erected by the entrance to the Pass which exhibits a wide collection of period artifacts and personal accounts of the extreme cruelty suffered by the P.O.W.s under the Japanese army. Unfortunately Mr. Bigalow needed an audience and our driver needed to bump and grind the mystery van a little more and so we were on our way all too soon.

Our time in Kanchanaburi concluded with a little tightrope walking across the rail tracks on the bridge where we met Sir Beaker Guinness re-enacting a long lost deleted Nephelump scene!

1 Comments:

  • Woohoo, just got my Bridge Over the River Kwae postcard, thanks a lot! I'd reciprocate with one from Chamonix if you two slowed down long enough to get it to you, so will just have to stick some pictures up online. Best 'o luck with your adventures :)

    By Anonymous cian, at 1:48 p.m.  

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