Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bridge of River Kwai and the Death Railway, Kanchanaburi

For many travelers, the main sight of interest would be The River Kwai Bridge, as the start of Death Railway link into Burma/Myanmar, as well as many associated museums.

It's not hard to image why the Thais see the province as one of the most beautiful provinces in Thailand with easy access to waterfalls and national parks.

If there's a better time to visit The River Kwai Bridge, it's going to be in the morning between 8am-10am.

Any trip to the popular bridge later than the recommended interval it should be compromised, the bridge will be filled with countless tourists attempting to capture good takes of photos of themselves with travel mates and the surroundings.

The River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi

World War II scene, an important piece of time

It's clearly understood why you should wake up early when you are traveling to get the best out of your trip.

The bridge, neither the most eye-catching structure nor it's being beautifully decorated, was aesthetically significant if you understand the historical settings.

The River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Wikipedia:
"The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre."

An important piece of time, the River Kwai Bridge is situated at the up river, approximately 1.5KM from where I spent a night at the rafting Sugarcane Guesthouse, I've written briefly about Kanchanaburi's historical background.

Bicycles could be rented conveniently at the price of 20 Baht for a day to get around the town.

During World War 2, the Japanese used Allied prisoners of war to build a railway from Thailand to Burma so they could supply their army without the dangers of sending supplies by sea. 

Many prisoners died suffering under appalling conditions during its construction, and the line became known as the "Death Railway".

Riding on the 3rd class train was an exceptional experience
A closer look at the railway

The tour package I booked was about 1,000 Baht, it included trip to spend the day at Erawan waterfall, elephant riding and bamboo rafting.

The last stop would end at visiting the Death railway and riding the rail for couple of stops before dropping me off at River Kwai Bridge but I chose to return the next morning.

The bridge was bombed by the Allied in an attempt to halt Japanese's further intrusion
The bridge is an important supply link to the Japanese during WWII

The bridge over River Kwai

The bridge was the frequent target of bombing raids by the Allied in attempts to halt Japanese's further intrusion where they were believed to build the link to supply the war in Burma and India.

The Japanese would force the Allied prisoners of war out from the prisoner camp to line up on the bridge and to friendly wave off the threats of bombers.

The bridge was eventually taken out by the bombers in one of the strike, taking Allied prisoners of war with it. It's rebuilt after the war ended.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya

Thailand is recently hit by the worst flood in half a century, while the government estimates the total loss is now ballooned close to $4B, disruptions to the global supply chain is still underestimated according to the new sources.

One of the many badly hit province, Ayutthaya, my deep condolence to those who lost their friends and family in this devastating event, and now it has it Bankkok, the city of Angel.

It's hard to imagine this ancient site was so magnificent and beautiful just couple of months back.

Wat Chai, Ayutthaya at normal day
A quick search over the Internet and these images are very mind bothering, it's saddening.

Picture of Wat Chai, Ayutthaya - flooding taken of Internet source

One day, the beauty of the ancient city will be restored once again.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya, the ancient city of Thailand existed some 600 years ago that housed some of the oldest temples in Thailand, was truly sensational!

Wat Chai, Temple of long reign and glorious era

The central chedi at Wat Chai, Ayutthaya and the broken wall

A scaled down model of the whole picture of the ancient Wat Chai placed just before the entrance

It's always best to travel around the small town by bicycle, which I did back then.

The entry fee was around 50 Baht, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a 400 years old Buddhist temple situated on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, outside Ayutthaya island.

It was less visited than those in the island, the quiet and peaceful temple was very photogenic, countless of headless Buddha statues lining up against the wall.

The ancient temple was constructed in 1630 by the King of Prasat Thong where it was being used by the royal family to perform religious ceremonies.

The temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era. It was designed in Khmer style which was popular at the time.

Many intact pagodas surrounded the central chedi where one could climb from all sides, but it's restricted now to go to the top for a view of what it's like in the central chedi.

Staircase link to the top of the chedi

Ayutthaya is such an amazing ancient city, full of colours, it never lacks the element of excitement if you love cultural walkthrough this is absolutely going to be it! One of the stop you can't be missing!

It's only 4 hours away from the busy Capital of Thailand, it surely be one of my favourite touristy spot.

If anyone is going, I suggest you to stay at least two nights and spend your days roaming through the streets from temple to temples by bicycle.

At night, I usually decided to go on the street for stall food, and spent the rest of the gorgeous night at one of the chilling restaurant pubs with live singer.