Kanchanaburi, the River Kwai, and the Bridge Over It
Aug 16, 2000   Thailand
BLOG: Un-related thoughts and activites of the day . . . .

This is it, folks, THE bridge over the river Kwai. The last part of our tour took us on a bamboo raft to the bridge.
This is it, folks, THE bridge over the river Kwai. The last part of our tour took us on a bamboo raft to the bridge.

Aug 16, 2000, Starting Off at the War Cemetery

I woke to an incredible sunrise with the orange sky reflecting off the rice paddies and white egrets flying low along the water. Out the other side of the train above the palm trees I could see the full moon still shining brightly against the morning sky.

Morning also meant we were almost at our stop after and awful night’s sleep in a chair. So good to get our and stretch our legs. During our 2 hr. wait for the next train we saw the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
Our first room at CC Guesthouse, not on the river.
Our first room at CC Guesthouse, not on the river.


Then one more train on to Kanchanaburi. It's a bit touristy but since it’s the off season its pretty good. We’re at the CC Resort just out of town. We checked one other place tonight that the Lonely Planet said was popular and it was all white people and totally westernized. I’m so glad we’re not there! We did not take one of the floating rooms on the river but are just across the lawn in a cute room with bath.

We went for a walk, got drunk on beer, and saw the WWII cemetery. It made me cry – everyone from other countries and some so young. I like this place though. Okay, Steve’s bugging me again so I can’t write….
Kanchanaburi Don-Rak War Cemetery contains the remains of almost 7,000 Australian, Dutch and British war prisoners who lost their lives during the construction of the Death Railway
Kanchanaburi Don-Rak War Cemetery contains the remains of almost 7,000 Australian, Dutch and British war prisoners who lost their lives during the construction of the Death Railway

Aug 17, 2000, Riding Bikes Around Kanchanaburi

This is great! I’m sitting in a funky wooden lounge chair on a bamboo raft veranda on the River Kwai. There’s so much to see in and around this town like museums, caves, waterfalls, etc. And of course – the bridge over the river, and the death railway where 16,000 POWs died making it as well as 100,000 – 150,000 local people!

We’re going to book a day tour for tomorrow where we’ll see some interesting stuff, ride an elephant for an hour, and ride a bamboo raft down the river. Yikes! The loud speed boats just made a bunch of waves and my relaxing little patio is going nuts! I really like it here. Maybe I can talk Steve into staying an extra night.
These floating karaoke bars were a total crack up. They would cruise up and down the river at night, blaring absolutely terrible karaoke!
These floating karaoke bars were a total crack up. They would cruise up and down the river at night, blaring absolutely terrible karaoke!
PM – Had yummy Pad Thai for lunch. I’m past worrying about whether or not it has fish sauce in it. We rented bikes for the day for 50¢ each and rode around town. Really neat area with floating restaurants and what looks like the floating discos. JEATH War Museum – pretty hardcore about all the POWs the Japanese held and were made work on the railway. The museum is owned and operated by Buddhist monks to remind people how bad war is. Then we rode across the river to a Wat (Temple) and cave. Awesome cave full of Buddhas and used for worship. We donated 20B (50¢ each) and they gave us each a bright little rope bracelet and a little Buddha in a box that we can’t figure out if it’s consumable, soap, incense, or what.
Cave buddha
Cave buddha
We rented bikes to ride around Kanchanaburi.
We rented bikes to ride around Kanchanaburi.
Life on the river Kwai.
Life on the river Kwai.
We love our little room but decided to switch to one on the river. We’re just waiting for the key and we’ll be floatin’ the night away for $1.75/night! Tomorrow is our day trip which should be tons of fun. Oh – there was just a huge striped monitor lizard 3 ft. long at the floating room we’re switching to! It walked by, then swam away.
Our floating room at CC Guesthouse in Kanchanaburi
Our floating room at CC Guesthouse in Kanchanaburi
Big ole' monitor lizard by our room.
Big ole' monitor lizard by our room.
Our floating hotel in Kanchanaburi. We'd jump in at one end and grab ahold of the railing at the other as the current swept us downstream.
Our floating hotel in Kanchanaburi. We'd jump in at one end and grab ahold of the railing at the other as the current swept us downstream.
Late PM – This place is so cool! The floating restaurants will just take off and go down the river! They are pulled by a small boat and have Karaoke and disco lights! Hilarious.

Aug 18, 2000, Awesome Day Tour

I’m lying in our little floating bamboo room listening to the rain and watching five geckos scamper across the ceiling eating up bugs. Hopefully they’ll make up for the holes in our mozzie net!

Our tour today was great. Cruised around by songthew (pickup truck with 2 benches and covered cage in back) in a somewhat unorganized manner. We went to a nice waterfall (Sai Yok Noi) and rode an elephant for an hour with the ‘driver’ sitting right on its head. We fed it bananas and it decided to steal an extra bunch from the table. A bit touristy, but still very different than anything you’d find at the fair.

Then we went to the Wong Badem Cave which I think is the best cave we’ve been to. Just us and a guy from the park with a lantern crawling through a dark cave with no path (hardly) – and a few wooden ladders. Close up and personal with stalagmites and stalactites. They are clear crystal inside even though they look like rocks! Saw some pretty flowers and vines.
Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, Kanchanaburi
Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, Kanchanaburi
I love how rustic the Wong Badem Cave was. Lots of ladders to climb.
I love how rustic the Wong Badem Cave was. Lots of ladders to climb.
Stalactites in the Wong Badem Cave. The caves and waterfalls on the tour were nice after all the depressing war history.
Stalactites in the Wong Badem Cave. The caves and waterfalls on the tour were nice after all the depressing war history.
I was rather ignorant then and yes, I rode an elephant. I don't condone this now. There are very few places that treat elephants properly.
I was rather ignorant then and yes, I rode an elephant. I don't condone this now. There are very few places that treat elephants properly.
Then to the Hell Fire Pass Museum. Only open for 2 years so far and it’s opened by the Australian Prim Minister! Very cool. The Aussie manager was very nice and informative. Until you see first hand the 17.5 meters of rock the POWs had to cut through, it’s hard to believe.

Got picked up late so the guy hauled ass in the rain to catch the train on the Death Railway. Good ride but tons of tourists. We drank 5 beers! No, maybe 7. Ugh. Anyway, then we boarded (with a few Dutch folks) 2 tiny bamboo rafts and headed down river to our hotel. Had Pad Thai at our same restaurant, relaxed on our river patio and even jumped in the water in the dark just to cool down. Ha ha! A restaurant is floating by full of disco lights and Chinese tourists singing karaoke! I love it!
Hell Fire Pass Museum. This is an example of where the prisoners had to dig away at the rock and dirt.
Hell Fire Pass Museum. This is an example of where the prisoners had to dig away at the rock and dirt.
The death railway whose construction took the lives of so many. The death railway on the river Kwai. So much sad history but very interesting.
The death railway whose construction took the lives of so many. The death railway on the river Kwai. So much sad history but very interesting.

Aug 20, 2000, Love Our Floating Hotel Room

Relaxed on the river yesterday with our resident monitor lizard and tons of longtail speedboats jetting by. Had a one-hour Thai massage for $4! It was great. You can learn Thai massage in only 14 days at Wat Po in Bangkok. Hmm- maybe next time. The guy also told me about an elephant at Sai Yok Noi that will give you a back massage with its foot!

Last night we watched the Bridge Over the River Kwai movie at the very touristy No Name Bar. From what we’ve seen and learned here, I’d say the movie is a crock of shit. It made it seem like a holiday for the POWs and didn’t show the starvation, disease, beatings, torture, strenuous labor, horrible living conditions, maggots, or how they forced the sick people to work.

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