Bridge over the river Kwai

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 01, 2006

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

The 2 hour bus trip across to Kanchanaburi was reasonably comfortable, and we arrived in a much more peaceful (but still hot) place. Kanchanaburi is the location of the famous bridge from the film 'The Bridge over the River Kwai' and was the location of POW camps set up by the Japanese to build a railway between Thailand and Burma to support the war front (world war II). The conditions were awful and over 250,000 people died building the road, through starvation, illness or just execution. Around 65,000 them were British, Aus, American and Dutch.

We are staying in a nice little place by the river, and were instantly hit by how cheap the prices were after Bangkok. The location by the river is idyllic, but pushing through the heat, we jumped on a tour to the Tiger Temple. Before we got here we had said that we wouldn't do the Tiger Temple, even though everyone else had told us how great it was, we wasn't sure about the ethics, especially Kate, with her love for big cat conservation. We read a leaflet on it, and decided that we should go and see before passing judgment. Upon arrival at the temple, the sweaty unbearable day, suddenly changed and the heavens opened up, so we stood under umbrellas watching the chained up tigers for around an hour, and was soaked through. Each person might have the own opinion on this, here's ours. Normally you get to go and stand by the tiger and have your pictures taken. We believed that maybe they were drugged, but this definitely wasn't the case when we got there, the Tigers were very active, and sometimes even slightly aggressive, looking like they might jump on a keeper if the chain wasn't holding them back. I think the rain definitely made them more restless, so instead of standing next to them, we were able to walk beside a tiger walking it like a pet, and stroking it whilst somebody out front took your picture. Me and Kate did not do this, i don't have the highest morality with animals like Kate, but something definitely felt amiss to me, and maybe i didn't want to destroy the majesty that the tiger has to me. What ever the reason, i think it was more of a gimmick, than a real tiger experience, and seeing them chained constantly, and then led back to there tiny cages did not give the feeling of a better life for the tigers. On the flip side, the tigers were originally brought to the monks to look after because they were orphaned or hurt, which of course is different, but there was around ten tigers, were all these rescued?, also they are breading the tigers to be let back into the wild, although they aren't actually doing that yet, and no tiger has ever successfully been re-released, let alone a hand reared one. This is pessimism, but if anyone has any more information, that would be good to get our hands on.

Anyway the east, we visited two war museums on a hired ped, one that was particularly informative about what happened here in Kanchanaburi. We also somberly visited the excellently kept graves of the dead soldiers and a few cave temples. In the afternoon we visted the bridge over the river Kwai itself, which still has an active track.

Day three, and we visted another waterfall, again a step system with lagoons for swimming, and with nice hike, which was very tough as it got hotter. After lunch we did a short trip of the 'death railway', as it is called because of all the deaths caused building it.

We've enjoyed our time here, and it's been very relaxing, on our last night we enjoyed an excellent curry together. For the next four weeks, me and Kate will be in different places, Kate in a wildlife sanctuary and me on Ko Sumui learning to teach English, Kate has the camera, so expect some serious animal footage. It's gonna be strange after spending pretty much all of the last 6 moths together, but should be another experience.

Miss every one loads, hope your carrying on well, and hope all our fellow travelers are doing well.
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