A visit to Kanchanaburi POW railway

Even if this trip has little to do with the Camino, I wish to jog in a few notes for future reference. Is has been just a long weekend outing in the countryside surrounding Bangkok in Thailand. The main attraction for the weekend tourists is to walk across the “infamous” bridge on the River Kwai, but there is no true respectful feeling left in the mass mercification of the souvenir industry which surrounds the place. Thanks to Matthew and his simple but effective trip planning, we managed to reach the end of the passenger railroad at
Nam Tok in time to hop into a local bus heading north to the Hellfire pass and Memorial Museum. This is a definite must see to make sense of the human tragedy that happened just 69 years ago starving and overworking to death over 100,000 people mostly of my father’s generation. Contrary to my belief, the Hellfire pass is not indicating the highest point, or a mountain pass. It’s actually a passageway or a gorge of about 200 meters long and 60 meter deep that has been cut by hand and explosives into the granite. The place is now immersed in a totally peaceful and bucholic athmosphere and beautifully restored by the Australian government and many survivor’s associations. The museum is the gateway to the memorial grounds and provides an abundant description of what happened between June and December 1943. From the Hellfire pass starts a 7km trail that largely uses the original railway bed as the walking track. There was an eerie feeling in the misty monsonic afternoon, which poured instantly several inched of rain almost as suddenly stopped to allow the continuation of the walk.
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Strangely enough, the Hellfire pass is some 13Km from the last train station at Nam Tok and the only practical way to reach Hellfire pass from Nam Tok is by road. I wish that better sooner than later, in sight of the improving political relationship between Myanmar and the rest of the world, there will be a renewed effort to restore the railway tracks in between and then allowing to end the train right at Hellfire pass.

The other remarkable visit is the war cemetery in Kanchanaburi.

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Nothing special in a war cemetery, apart from the impressive vastity of the plot of land perfectly manicured and the obsessive simmetry of the layout. Simple but effective eulogies do commemorate not just the individual casualty but contribute chorally to the remembering of all.

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Suggestive complement to the trip was the overnightvstay at the Erawan National Park for the ritual walk to the 7 waterfalls.
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Again it is fundamental to start the trek at the break of the day, before the ordes of day trippers will spoil the natural beauty and serenity of the stream of water.

Total cost for the three days were about TBH 2,000 (S$ 82) each sharing accommodations among the three if us.

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