Bridge on the River Kwai - Revisited
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|
|Thai countryside from the moving train|
|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|
|The 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|
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 up to the terminal station Hua Lamphong. This station connects to the main railway station in 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 the Chayo Praya river and cross over to the other side and then take a Tuktuk or taxi for Thonburi. Tuktuks in Bangkok is very fast and well maintained. When we returned we took a taxi to Bang Wa BTS station on Silom line. The station is on the 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 to the terminal station Nam Tok, one can enjoy crossing the Bridge on the train and also see Wampo Viaduct and Hellfire Pass ( also constructed by the POWs during World War II).
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