36) Bridge Over the River Kwai

I headed west from Bangkok to see the Bridge Over the River Kwai, made famous by the novel and the movie of the same name.  It is about a 2 hour car ride out of Bangkok, but its a 3+ hour ride back due to Bangkok’s legendary traffic problems.

Bridge Over the River Kwai

The bridge is part of the legendary Burma Railway, also known as the “Death Train”, constructed across Thailand by the Japanese during WWII.  The construction crews were made up of 60,000 Allied prisoners of war, and 200,000 forced laborers from various South East Asian countries.  Tens of thousands of these workers, including more than 12,000 POW’s died during the construction through the harsh jungles.  Most of the POW’s were British, Australian & Dutch soldiers.  133 Americans are counted among the dead.

Approaching the bridge from down river on a long boat.
View of the Kwai River from mid-bridge.
Today, as you should expect, the bridge is a major  tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors each day, and dozens of thriving tourist businesses.

After touring the bridge, I boarded the Death Train for a ride through the Thai countryside.  The train doesn’t go all the way to the border with Burma anymore, but it makes for an interesting, and quite beautiful journey.

Remote cave containing Buddhist shrine. Dozens of worshipers were praying to the Buddha.
Burning incense at the shrines is part of the solemn worship.





The last stop of the day was at a POW cemetery not far from the bridge.  This is one a 3 major cemeteries dedicated to Allied soldiers who died while constructing the Burma Railway.







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