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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bridge on the River Kwai - Revisited

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River Kwai


I first saw Bridge on the River Kwai when I was just a school boy in Lucknow.I remember seeing the Academy Award winning movie at Mayfair theater on Hazratgunj. The film was superb in all respect. Legendary Director David Lean with great casts like Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins – shot in entirety in Sri Lanka; superb real life photography and based on a true story on construction of a Bridge by POWs(prisoners of war) of the Allied force, held in cramped swampy rain forest camps set up by the Japanese army during World War II. The bridge was the most infamous section of about 250 miles Siam railroad track from Bang Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma, and was built to support the Japanese Imperial Army’s forces in Burma (now Myanmar). The film shows the travails of POWs engaged in construction of the Bridge in 1942–43.There were many deaths in these camps during construction period owing to the squalid conditions the POWs were forced to live, and work in mosquito,insect and snake infested rainforest around the river.The railroad nicknamed ‘Death Railway’ because of heavy casualties during construction of the Bridge, is in reality located in Thailand. When we got down at Kwai station and crossed the famous Bridge on foot, the feeling was strangely that of déjà vu. More so when Colonel Bogey wafted over the River Kwai from the other end of the Bridge. A fidler was playing the tune with remarkable semblance to the original.



On way to Thonburi station


Thonburi station


Thai countryside from the moving train


Passing Kanchanaburi


Kwai station


River Kwai Bridge station


The real bridge on the river Kwai


A closer view of the bridge


Another view of the bridge


On the iron bridge built by the POWs


The Bridge overlooks floating cafes,eateries along the river


Engine of the train used by the Japanese Imperial Army


Gallery inside the War Museum


Picture Gallery in the War Museum


A monastery on the other side of the Bridge


War Museum near the River Kwai station  The war cemetery of  POWs who died serving as labourers for construction of the Bridge and the Death Railroad is located at Kanchanaburi about 5km from here.


Train from Nam Tok end crossing the Bridge on the River Kwai


Train returning from Nam Tok enters Kwai Bridge Station


The trains are like the ones seen in western cowboy movies. One can have nice and exciting views standing at the rear end of the train.

Standing here reminded me of another war movie 'Von Ryan's Express'.




A picturesque junction station on way to Kanchanaburi




Chao Phraya River In order to come to Thonburi Station one has to cross the river.


BTS sky train 

Photographs by : Arundhati Sengupta 


How to get there?


We wanted to take the morning 7.50 train from Thonburi.

Since we stayed at Sukhumvit, we caught the early morning sky train from the

nearest BTS station Phrom Phong.We got down at the next BTS station Asok, walked down to the connecting metro Sukhumvit station. From Sukhumvit station we took a metro upto the terminal station Hua Lamphong.This station connects to the main railway station of Bangkok. From here we hired a Tuktuk to Bangkok Noi (now known as Thonburi station), about 6 km from Hua Lamphong. Alternatively, one  can take a ferry from Chayo Praya river and cross over to the other side and then take a Tuktuk or taxi for Thonburi. Tuktuks in Bangkok are very fast and well maintained. When we returned we took a taxi upto Bang Wa BTS station on Silom line. The station is on Thonburi side. Got down at National Stadium, changed to Siam line and took another train to Phrom Phong.
There are only two trains from Thonburi to Nam Tok. The morning train is at 07.50 Hrs. Takes about 3 hours to Kanchanaburi / Kwai. Fare around 2 usd. Cute little train, clean and comfortable with vendors selling food items on the running train. If you want to have a hearty breakfast before boarding the train you can enjoy Hamburger and Ovaltine at cafes in the market opposite Thonburi rail station. The train chugs through the picturesque Thai countryside and if one is interested to continue upto the terminal station Nam Tok, one can enjoy crossing the Bridge on train and also see Wampo Viaduct and Hellfire Pass ( also constructed by the POWs during World War II). 

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