17th June 2006 – A day of mixed emotions
For we of the Saga generation, the building of the bridge over the River Kwai is a familiar part of history and we were grateful to have the opportunity to visit this site. After setting off at 7 a.m. we drove for 3 hours to reach Kanchanaburi where we first visited the memorial museum. This museum was created by a local monk in memory of the prisoners and it is housed in replica buildings like the original POW huts. Inside were items which had been used by the prisoners, together with some of their drawings and accounts of their terrible life in that camp. It was a sombre visit for all of us
We then boarded tiny boats and set off down the Kwai towards the bridge. The boats travelled so fast that they bounced over the water and we had to hang on to our sun hats. As we arrived at the bridge a train was passing over it. We then had a little time to visit the local memorial and walk some of the way over the bridge, while dodging onto small platforms whenever a train came by.
We boarded our coach and drove through the countryside past small villages and farms. Lunch was at rather unusual restaurant, run by an American and organised with extreme precision (and good food!).
A short journey took us to a railway station where we got on the train and travelled for an hour and a half down the line and across the famous bridge. It was a beautiful journey with amazing scenery. In places we saw the river and then the distant hills, the forest and the farms. We got off at Kanchanaburi station and made a final stop to pay our respects at the war cemetery for English, Australian and Dutch soldiers..
Then a 3 hour journey back to the hotel just in time for dinner.