As the putter of a long tail boat fades away down the River Kwai I pen our exploits in Kanchanaburi.
We have been here only a few days but the spirit of this place has captured us. The town of Kanchanaburi is nothing special – apart from perhaps the food in the night market… Yum – but the natural wonders and harrowing history it holds are special.
The Erawan falls are a series of waterfalls (seven to be exact) that fall over 1500m. We scrambled to each one, and rewarded ourselves with a refreshing swim at the seventh tier. It was incredibly cold (just what the doctor ordered), but also contained fish that like to nibble on human flesh… Nothing bad but made you eager to get out again! Then it was back on the bike (nearly 4 hours on a scooter there and back) and back to Kanchanaburi… That was yesterday.
Then today, an early start (5am wake up makes for an unhappy Joyce) to catch the morning train over ‘the bridge over the River Kwai’ and up to hellfire pass. The journey on the train was one of the most picturesque train journeys I’ve ever taken, and the old style trains transported me back in time; head out the window to the sound of ‘click’ ‘clack’.
At the end of the line we went to the Hellfire Pass (once we found it… As always things in thailand are never quite as easy as you think they will be!). This was an incredibly sobering experience. The Pass is man made, by POWs in the early 1940s. It is 73 metres long and 25 metres high. It was all cut out by hand. And in its ‘construction’, over 6 weeks, 69 POWs were beaten to death, more died of disease and starvation. And this is only part of the whole story of the death railway, where it is estimated that approximately 100,000 POWs and forced labourers lost their lives. Incredibly sad. Incredibly sobering. But also an area of incredible beauty that has been a privilege to visit.
And now tonight, we return to the night market – I think Joyce has already mapped out our plan of attack and what is on the menu – and then tomorrow we have a mammoth journey to get to Koh Chang… More diving. We’ve already had withdrawal symptoms! 🙂