Death Railway – day 341

An early-ish start to the day saw us eating Milo cereal and fruit on our riverside veranda, watching the boats charge up and down the river Kwai. Had decided to take the train over the historical ‘Death Railway’ and wanted to catch the first train up to Nam Tok. Arriving at the station, we found out that you could only buy tickets 30 minutes before the train departure time, unless you wanted to buy a souvenir ticket for an extra 200 baht which included a complimentary drink… (FYI, the train ticket only cost 100 baht each). With just under an hour until the train was due to leave, we headed over to the ‘Death Railway Museum’ however, they recommend at least 40 minutes to look around and, knowing what the two of us are like for losing track of time in museums, we decided to save it for another day. Across the road was the war memorial cemetery. The railway was commissioned by the Japanese during WWII as a way to transport supplies overland for their troops from Thailand to Myanmar rather than by sea which had been compromised several times by the opposition. The railway was constructed by thousands of prisoners of many nationalities who cut down big trees to make the rail supports. Many thousands died during the construction of the railway (the memorial claims it to be as much as 1 in 3) due to the difficult terrain, the tropical climate, malnutrition and disease. The war graves were beautifully maintained and there was a real feeling of respect for each of the men who died here. We wandered up and down a couple of the rows, noting that some plaques merely had the individuals name, D.O.B and rank whereas others had been inscribed with a poem or a sentence from their families. Sad to think that some of those families never got to visit their loved ones resting place.Back at the train station, we bought our tickets and were on the train heading along the death railway. Sat opposite a couple from Bournemouth who rent out property for a living and pretty much travel all year round (they are my new idols!!!). About an hour into the journey, we pulled into a station and suddenly saw a bit of a hullabaloo going on… Turns out, the train engine had caught on fire and the guards were putting it out with fire extinguishers. We then had to wait for over two hours for another engine to turn up so we could carry on our journey. All of the tour groups, including the couple, were put back on buses and visited the ‘Deadly Curve’ part of the railway whilst we waited… And waited… And waited. I went off in the search to get something to eat and found a shop that was doing a storming trade to everyone stuck on the train. They were even offering people hot water to make instant noodles, which we ate although we did have to have a Milo ice cream first (it was hot after all!!). About two and a half hours later, we had a new engine and were back on our way. The death railway was set against a superb scenery backdrop but I have to admit that even my heart was beating fast when we slowed down over the bridge and it was still creaking. Arriving in Nam Tok, we should have had two hours to look around before catching the train back but, as we were so late, we had no time and simply sat back down and made our way back to Kanchanaburi. Deciding that since we hadn’t done very much all day except sit on a train, we got off one stop early with the intention of walking to the night market for dinner. The stop was the River Kwai Bridge which you are allowed to walk over – so we did!!! It was very strange walking over a bridge we had just ridden over, even more so that they were safety platforms regularly on the bridge to use if a train did come along! Walking back down the main road, it almost felt like we had taken a wrong turn. It was so empty and quiet! And then the bars offering fish and chips started popping up! Before long, we were back to an area we recognised and headed to the market. Much smaller than last nights (clearly it was a weekend thing), we still managed to find some amazing food for dinner. Sausage on a stick to start, noodle soup for main and a custard chocolate toast dessert thing. A quick shower back at the guesthouse before watching the final episode of Friends in bed. Monday 12th September 2016

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