April 2, 2014
Breakfast is pretty much as expected except the eggs aren't made fresh to order so they aren't that great. I settle for toast, fruit, juice, and coffee. There are several hot choices such as fried noodles, fried eggs, french toast.
The lady at the front desk says no tours going as not enough people interested but we can hire a car for 1900 baht so we say ok. It's more than the tour cost for what we will do but we don't have many options. The same tour for what we will see/do would have been 1500 baht total.
HELLFIRE PASS Also known as the KONYU CUTTING. The Japanese were fighting the British in Burma with a goal of an offensive against India. To keep their men in Burma the Japanese needed a secure supply route other than the risky sea lanes. They decided to build a railway in Thailand to Burma. Done by hand by Australian and British POWs and Asian conscripts. Started in 1943 and finished in 3 months. Worked 18 hr. days and at night had bamboo bonfires, carbide lamps for light. The shadows of the men working gave the name HELLFIRE PASS. Work done by hammer & tap men using steel drills and hammers. Every year in April there is a dawn service here to honor all Australian and New Zealanders who died in the wars. It's called ANZAC day which goes back to WWI. The development of this site was initiated by JG "Tom" Morris, a former Aussie POW who worked on the Burma-Thailand railway during WW II.
It takes awhile to get there but when we do at 8:30 am there's hardly anyone else here. It's a shame as this will prove to be the best thing we do next to the actual Bridge over the river Kwai. Maybe it's too early and it will get busy later. There is no admission fee as such but we offer a donation of 200 baht in the donation box and I buy some postcards for 20 baht. There are a few items for sale like T shirts and hats also. There are headphones available but you need to leave your passport or a credit card as security. We didn't bring any of that with us so they talk to our driver who vouches for us I guess. I sign our names and we get 2 headphones along with a info booklet and a list of the stops on the headphone recording. There are 18 actual stops and a contemplation part as well as the poem "Mates" by Duncan Butler and then a farewell. Very good-make sure if you visit that you get the headphones. We have been told by our driver that we can have 2 hrs. here for the walk and the museum. The entire walk would take 4-5 hrs. The walk itself isn't that bad but the stairway you have to navigate to get to the beginning of the walk is not easy. Lots of stairs up and down. It takes about 1 1/2 hrs. just to walk one way to Hintock Camp so we decide to walk for about 45 minutes because then we have to walk back and I want to spend time at the museum. We get to the Kwae Noi lookout and then head back. It's a very peaceful walk so you have to really work to imagine how it must have been for those forced to work on this railway. I can only imagine how it was to cut through this rock!
|This building is where you get your headphones and it's where the museum is located|
|Pathway going to the trail from the museum|
|Lots of steep stairs|
|Imagine having to cut through this rock!|
|These crosses bear the names of those who perished|
|I believe it's in this area where the ANZAC dawn service ceremony is held every April|
|Path is a little tricky here|
|Richard walking back|
The museum is fabulous with tons of information and detailed signs. The museum is maintained by the Australian Chamber of Commerce. It's to honor the Allied POWs and Asian conscripts who died during the construction of the Death railways cuttings and trestle bridges. I learned about the meagre diet the men had. How they fell ill to dysentery, malaria, cholera. I wish I had more time here!
|For every railway sleeper laid on the railway track, a life was sacrificed|
|This was the period when the men worked 18 hr. days|
We drive to KRASAE CAVE AND WAMPO VIADUCT The cave has stalactites and stalagmites and there's a Buddha shrine inside. You can also see evidence that bats are and/or have been here! This cave is situated right next to the WAMPO VIADUCT, a wooden part of the Death Railway. We spend time here walking and taking pictures.
|Driving to the cave|
Our driver says we can catch the train here. Tickets 100 baht per person. This is THAMKASAE STATION. While we wait I try to find a T shirt for an infant but with all these vendors there are no tiny sizes like I need. Our train is coming. We say goodbye and thanks to Mr. Noppadon Thiamtanong our driver and I take his picture. mobile 090-8102982 or +668-7926-0758
|This is our train|
|Our driver Mr. Noppadon Thiamtanong|
RIDING THE DEATH RAILWAY TRAIN BACK TO THE KWAI BRIDGE STATION Our train leaves at 1:50 pm from the Thamkasae Station. Lots of scenery. Very nice. We are in the next to last car. I forgot to ask for tickets for this last car which are more-300 baht per person. We arrive at the BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI STATION at 3:30 pm. I look around to see if I can find an infant T shirt-no luck here either. We start to walk back to the hotel, passing a monument but then decide to hop in a tuk tuk as it's so hot. Tuk tuk back to the hotel 56 baht.
|My husband leaning out the window|
|Lots of empty seats|
|Last car on train costs 300 baht per person but just sit in the car in front of this one for 100 baht per person|
|We are going over the Bridge over the River Kwai to town|
|I never get tired looking at this bridge!|
|Restaurants on the other side of the river opposite to where we had dinner the other night|
|Our room with some clothes draped on the chair|
Dinner will be at NUT RESTAURANT Recommended on TA. Our same tuk tuk guy takes us there and will pick us up in 1 1/2 hrs. We arrive 6:30 pm. It's a small place, very friendly staff and we can observe the cooking from where you sit. I order broccoli with shrimp and a coke, Richard orders pad Thai chicken spicy and a large Chang beer. Cost for our dinner a whopping 300 baht. It was very tasty and lived up to the reviews I'm happy to say. We talk with Dave, a British ex pat who lives here. He's originally from Cumbria. Very nice. He'd like us to stay longer and chat more but our tuk tuk driver is here. Tuk tuk 80, 80 baht.
|Broccoli and shrimp with carrots & tomato slices-yummy|
|Excellent pad Thai chicken spicy with tomato slices|
|Dave, the former Brit from Cumbria who lives here now|
Tomorrow we leave to return to Bangkok. Richard wishes we could stay here longer. He likes this place. He also is dreading the train ride back-no A/C. And the train leaves so early! I'm taling to the front desk staff who mentions we could take the bus back. It has A/C and runs several times a day so we could have breakfast and catch a late morning bus. Perfect!!