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My travelogue

Here is my list of attractions I have visited over the years. There is a Google Card attached to each location and at the bottom of each folder, you can find more information in some of the locations



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Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi is a small town, located 130 kilometers west of Bangkok. The city is the capital of the province of Kanchanaburi, bordering Myanmar, former Burma. The province's capital is located at the place where the River Kwai Noi meets the Kwai Yai River and forms the Mae Klong River. Many people come here to see the bridge over the Kwai River, which is known from the English feature film of the same name. I'm one of those who come here regularly. The film is based on a novel from 1954 by French author Pierre Boulle. Both the film and the book are based on a real event during World War II. But they do not follow the real story at all points.

The Japanese victories.
In December 1941, Japan invaded attacks in Asia, and soon after it had conquered a large number of new territories, New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma. Japan seemed completely invincible. But the aggressive policy was nothing new. Before that, Japan had already occupied Taiwan in 1895, Korea in 1910, Manchuria in 1932 and a large part of the rest of China from 1937. Thailand was attacked on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on the American Navy Base Pearl Harbor. Japan attacked both land (from Battambang in Cambodia), from the air (Don Muang airport north of Bangkok) and from the seaside (coastal coast seven locations in the Thai Bay). The Thai forces defended themselves, but only a short time. Thailand's Prime Minister Pharma Songkhram, who had been a military dictator since 1938, gave orders to halt opposition, as the superpower was too big. On December 21, 1941, he entered into an agreement with Japan, which meant that the Thai government could continue. One month later, on January 25, 1942, he declared war against England and the United States. In other words: Thailand entered the war on Japan.

"The Rail of Death"
In June 1942, after the Battle of Midway, Japan lost its sovereignty over the Asian garden, but the Japanese government still needed to send supplies to its forces in Burma. Therefore, it decided to build a railroad from Thailand to Burma, later known as "Death Rail". This railroad should go from Ban Pong (west of Bangkok) to Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma. It would be 415 kilometers long, 263 Km in Thailand and 152 Km in Burma. The British had already considered a similar line in 1910, but they abandoned it two years after, because the inevitable terrain made it difficult and expensive to build a railway there. But the Japanese wanted a railroad, cost what they wanted, and as a warrior nation they did not have any scruples as to what funds they used to achieve their goals. The work was started in September 1942. You started at both ends, in order to get that built quickly. When starting work, it was estimated that it would take four five years. The Japanese could not wait for it, so by a massive effort the track was taken in just 14 months. In October 1943, the two lines met at Konkoita in Thailand, after which the pitch was opened. The railway crosses the Kwai Yai River at Kanchanaburi. In fact, two bridges were built over the river: A steel bridge, completed in April 1943, and 300 meters further down the river, a wooden bridge completed two months before. At the end of World War II, both bridges were bombed and partially destroyed by the Allies. After the war the wooden bridge was removed, and today all traces of it are gone. The steel bridge was repaired and it still stands today as a monument to a very dark chapter in Japan's history. Looking closely, there are two plates mounted on the two brokages blasted by the bombing, telling them that the bridge trains are made in Tokyo.

Horrible conditions.
The Japanese gave orders, but they did not have to work for themselves, they had people. Work on the railroad was carried out by Allied prisoners of war and Asian workers who were forced to write to the task. There were 61,000 allied prisoners of war, of which 30,000 British, 18,000 Dutch and 13,000 Australian. As a result, there should also be a Dane among them, but I have not found anything further. In addition, there were 200,000 Asian workers. The French forces in Indochina got a "diplomatic agreement" with Japan, and therefore no French prisoners of war were allowed to work on the railroad, very lucky for them. The relationships were creepy. The Japanese demanded working days of up to 16 hours, and virtually no day off. They had hardly any food and had to live under rough conditions. They had only a few tools at their disposal, almost everything was made by hand, and they were bothered by all possible fatal diseases. Hospitals were non existent, only some lazarets were present, and were just a place where they were placed to die. The result of Japan's policy was a massive mortality: About 13,000 (21%) of the Allied prisoners of war and about 80,000 (40%) of Asian workers lost their lives during the work to build the railroad.

Three big burial places.
The Allied prisoners of war, who died in the period 1942 43, were usually buried there where they died. But after the war, their graves were located by the Allies, which forced the Japanese to dig them up and place them in three big burial places. One located is Myanmar at Thanbyuzayat, the other two in Thailand, Kanchanaburi War Cemetary, the other Chunkai War Cemetary, on the other side of the river and a bit further south. In Burma there are 3,771 graves, of which 1,588 British, 622 Dutch and 1,348 Australian. At Kanchanaburi War Cemetary there are 6,982 graves, of which 3,568 British, 1,896 Dutch and 1,362 Australian. At the Chunkai War Cemetary there are 1,740 graves, of which 1,384 British and 313 Dutch. The two Thai cemeteries are very well-kept. There is a nice green lawn and there are no weeds. All tombstones are the same, but the text is individual. There are different symbols, Jewish, cross or military mark. Not everyone has names, but in most cases there is both name, age and date of death, so you can see that many did not get more than 25 years. There was no monument or grave for the Asian workers, although there were more of them, and even their deaths much greater than the Allied prisoners of war. This depends on the fact that they usually do not raise stones or memorials over dead.

Hell Fire Pass.
After the war, the Allies decided that the Burmese part of the "railway of death" from Thanbyuzayat to the border should be removed, and there are only a few meters at the border crossing at "The Passover of the Three Pagodas". The northernmost piece of the Thai part was also removed, as there was no need for it. Until last year, the track only went to Nam Tok, which lies about 50 kilometers north of Kanchanaburi, but last year it was recycled up to Sai Yok. It is now used to transport tourists this weekend. Hell Fire Pass was opened in the 90's as a museum for the many fallen Australians, and it was Australia who paid the museum. It is definitely worth a visit. It is located about 75 Km north of Kanchanaburi, or 15 Km south of the Sai You waterfall, which is also worth a visit. Hell Fire Pass was one of the hardest pieces on the line, where the workers had to chop a deep gap through a big mountain to make way for the pitch. The work took place both day and night. At night there was artificial lighting that looked like the entrance to hell, and therefore the workers gave this name to the place. The work in Hell Fire Pass took place April, April 1943. The gap is in two sections. The first one is 450 meters long and seven meters deep. The other 75 meters long and 25 meters deep. During this work, 700 Allied prisoners of war died, of which 69 were robbed of the Japanese or Korean prisoners of war.

Military dictator
During 1943 the war crash began to turn seriously, and the military dictator Phibun Songkhram met with increasing resistance in the Thai population. The war was unpopular, and it was clear that he had betrayed the crazy horse by joining Japan. On July 27, 1944, he suffered a serious political defeat, after which he was forced to leave. He was followed by Khung Aphaiwong, who tried to distance from Japan, to avoid the allies after the war to punish Thailand for the pro-Japanese line. Managed. England demanded that Thailand be punished, but the United States was opposed and they got their will. Thailand was admitted to the good company. Although Phibun had worked with Japan, his career was not over. Two years after the end of the war, he again took over power in Thailand. He was another military dictator, this time with the support of the United States. He was in power from 1947 to 1957.

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Information about this place:

GPS:
North: 14.041705 / East: 99.504146


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