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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 103: A history lesson

THAILAND | Saturday, 16 February 2008 | Views [756]

The Bridge Over The River Kwai

The Bridge Over The River Kwai

Saturday 16th February

I got up feeling refreshed and in the mood for some action. I headed out to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, a museum that presented the history of the railway between the two countries. It was designed by the occupying Japanese forces during the Second World War to provide an inland supply route to western Asia (having spent the previous years sweeping in from the east), and built with the blood and sweat of local captives and Allied POWs.

It was a quite interesing museum, although it had a definite slant towards the POWs, their story having been made famous by the 'Bridge Over The River Kwai' movie. The most telling statistic for me, was the fact that 80% of the 100,000 people who had died during the construction of this railway line were Burmese and Malay captives, something that popular  history fails to bring to the fore. 

After this history lesson, I took a walk to the bridge itself, a fairly non-descript structure in the north of the town, and which is surrounded, unsurprisingly, by the usual tourist shops and stalls. I wasn't sure why the bridge itself gets all of the publicity, given that it is a 100m stretch of a line that extended over 400kms in total. Maybe I missed something in the exhibition that explained this.

By mid-afternoon, I was all done, having seen all that I wanted to see in Kanchanaburi. I had little desire to do anything else except to write up some of my journal entries, get some dinner, and settle down in front of the TV for the FA Cup matches. I was glad that the guesthouse had a TV with the football on, as it saved me having to put up with the inevitable bollocks that comes from a crowd of ex-pats watching football in a foreign pub. As for the football, Liverpool getting beaten by Barnsley by a soft goal into the Kop End made me laugh out loud, while United thrashing Arsenal 4-0 only put me in a better mood. The football finished up at 02.00, and I went to bed a happy man.

Tags: Culture


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