"on the footstep of the P.O.W. along the death railway, Karnchanaburi"

 
   When people talk of natural forest and possibility of trekking in Thailand, Chiangmai and Chiangrai are always the first two  
   provinces which they can suddenly recall. The distance of over 700 km. away from Bangkok, for some travellers, makes it  
   seems too far to reach.Karnchanaburi which is only 128 km. away to the west of Bangkok can be the closest choice.During  
   the 2nd world war, Karnchanaburi was a strategic province where the Japanese laid  the rail to make the inland connection  
   between Thailand and Burma. It was to replace the marine channel where the inferior fleet of the Japanese gunships were  
   often bombed down by the superior allied airforce. Over 200,000 labors from the P.O.W. and asian workers were commanded  
   on its construction to make up with the tight time schedule. Almost half sacrificed  their lives for it. After war, some parts of the  
   rail are maintained and many museums are built to remind the younger generations of the war cruelty. They become another  
    attraction for the trip to this province.  
     
     
   
         
           
 
       
 
       
           
           
                                 
 
 General Background of the Death Railway
 
   In 1939,the 2nd worldwar started in Europe. It hadn't yet directly affected Asia until  
   December 7th,1941 (American time),when the Japanese wings "Kamikaze" attacked the  
   American base at "Pearl Habor". Early morning on the coming day, the Japanese army  
   marched up along the Gulf of Siam which led into the fierceful fighting between the  
   Japanese and Thai. The fighting didn't last a day when the Thai government were  
           forced by situation to become the alliance with the Japanese. During the early 1942, war          
           supplies and militaries were delivered on ship to support the attack to the French and          
   British's colonies. The interuption of the allied airforce to the Japanese marine fleet had  
   turned the Japanese to another alternative delivery channel.The Thai-Burmese rail link  
   project which was designed by a british company was revised with the strategic time  
   limit of a year.Many asian labors as well as P.O.W. were forced to work under the  
   cruelty of nature and war. An estimation of 94,000 lives were sacrificed for the 415 km.  
   railroad project which required approximate 100,000 sleepers.The equivalent of one  
           sleeper to one life make people call this project " the death railway".          
         
 P.O.W. war cemetaries and the JEATH museum
         
   After war, This railroad becomes the provincial point of attraction. The survived  
   prisoners have come back to recall their memories during the war and visit the graves  
   of their friends. They are buried in 3 cemetaries on the countries they worked, two in  
   Karnchanaburi- Thailand and one in Burma at Thanbuzayat. Chongkai cemetary just  
   across the karnchanaburi railway station holds 6982 graves. It is the biggest of the three.  
   Another 1740 graves are at Kaopoon cemetary just across the Kwae yai river. It is the  
           smallest. Many museums have been established to remind the visitors,who have not          
           involved in the war, of its cruelty. The Jeath museum was set up in 1977 on a temple          
   land by the Mae Klong riverside.The name is derived from the first alphabet of the six  
   main countries which greatly involved in the railway construction.  
   They are Japan, England, Australia and America, Thailand and Holland.  
   Old black-white pictures,oil paintings from the prisoners' memories and newscripts that  
   explained the happening during the war are displayed in the psuedo-prisoner hut.Photo  
   cannot be taken since all are under the prisoners' copyright.  
         
 Bridge over the river Kwae, now and then
         
           Many visitors were mis-led by the Hollywood movie that the original bridge over the          
   river Kwae (Yai) was totally destroyed at war end. Infact, only 3 of the 11 spans  
   collapsed from the air bomb in June 1945. They were replaced with 2 wider trapezoid  
   spans 3 years afterward.The bridge runs across the Kwae Yai river while the railway  
   runs alongside the Kwae noi river. The water from these rivers has different color.  
   Kwae Yai is green but Kwae noi is lighter green or brown. At the junction of the river  
   when they combine into the Maeklong river,we can see the river of 2 color. It is always  
           busy at this point of the river by day and night.Big rafthouses are available for Karaoke          
           and disco dance with big stereo and disco light. They are pulled up and down stream          

   by a compact long-tailed boat. Such boat can also be rented from the Maeklong river to  
   the River Kwae (yai) bridge. Many beautiful resort and temples as well as other local  
   lifestyle can be seen from this boat trip. The speedy boat runing along the smooth river  
   makes the trip so exciting.  
 
 Train ride along the now-in-used death railway
 
   The death railway is still on service 6 time a day back & forth. Many Thais regularly  
           arrange their ChingChuub tour on the earliest train from Thonburi station in Bangkok          
           down to Namtok station which is now the last station the train can run to. Then they          
   continue to the Saiyok Noi waterfall which is only 1 km. away. It takes 5 hours for just  
   one way ride. Most foreigners are not that patient. They prefer the shorter ride from  
   the river Kwae bridge to Wangpo station which takes only one and half hours.  
   Though shorter, it covers the 2 most beautiful scene of the death railway-- the bridge  
   over the river Kwae and the Wangpo viaduct.  
 
 The impressive hell fire pass, where prisoners worked hard like in hell
 
           Another impressive scene of the original death railway is beyond reach of the current          
           train line.It is 20 km.further from the current last train station. During June 1943, the          
   construction at this point was blocked from the big rock. To keep up wtih the deadline,  
   more effort was put in to cut it apart.  
   Prisoners were divided into 2 shifts of 16 working hours to keep them work by days and  
   nights.The skiny workers who worked weakly under the torch by night looked really  
   like they were working in hell. That makes the name 'hell fire pass'.  
   This site is now managed by an australian foundation. Visitors can visit the museum  
           and overlook the exhibition, collections of the equipment and tools in used,model of          
           the site and video before they walk down on the historical track to the real site of the          
   'hell fire pass'.  
   There are also many resorts that make the memorials and keep many artifacts in their  
   private museums. Visitors may enjoy many other activities in the surrounding, but once  
   they enter the museums, at least it will remind them what had happened during the war.  
   There are many things we can learn in our lives but remember also to learn this,
 
   ' better to forgive but to forget,never.'