General, Travel

The Bridge over the River Kwai

IMG_5681I feel like the past few days have been absolutely non-stop. I think that’s a good thing. I’m going to need that rest time when we finally get out of Bangkok and reach Koh Tao. I’m glad were doing so much that doesn’t include being in Bangkok itself because I just don’t really like the place. I don’t know why, I just don’t.

I think early mornings are vastly easier to get up for when you have a purpose. That said, no early morning is easy when it involves a 5:30am wake-up call. Even worse when you realise that you mis-read the breakfast sign and could have had an extra half-hour in bed. The reason for the early morning wake-up call: there are two trains a day to the bridge of the River Kwai, and so if we want to be able to see it/anything there, we need to be up and ready at the train station halfway across this hectic city at 7:45am.

I am beginning to get used to train travel in Thailand, with the fruit sellers and drinks men going up and down the aisles, and the smoking in the vestibules. It seriously is probably better than getting a Northern Rail train from Preston to Liverpool. This train was going to be quite a hefty run, 138km takes around 3/3.5 hours. We decided that 10 hours return on the train to go to the end of the line to see the viaduct was too much, and that we wanted to walk over the bridge itself, so we got off at the River Kwai bridge station.

DSCF2336 We waited for the masses to hit the bridge so we could get the obligatory photo under the sign. We had a few hours to kill there, not that there was that much to do except the bridge, so we didn’t want to rush ourselves, and wanted to ensure we got the best possible pictures once got there. It’s a stupid thing to say, considering how dangerous it usually is, but I have always wanted to walk on a train track. To see the river Kwai from the bridge, you have to walk along them, so we took this *safe* opportunity to take silly photos, probably not in keeping with the feeling of the place, while we had a chance.

Kanchanaburi features a lot more of the history of the place, and the cemeteries from those who fell on the death railway, so the bridge feels considerably less harrowing than I expected it to. That said, you can feel the history. There are memorial plaques, and some of the original train engines on display to help remind visitors of the history. I felt like for us it was a good balance.

We took our time ambling across the bridge taking photos and admiring the view down the river on both sides. I learnt (from the internet, so it might not be right) that the river is not actually the river Kwai. The author of the original novel was somewhat ignorant of the geography of the region, so the bridge in fact crosses the Mae Klong. The Thai people, not wanting to miss out on the major attraction, simply renamed that section of the river, and the problem was then solved. If only all problems could be solved so easily! After all, the river and the scenery was pretty beautiful.

Until we researched into going, I didn’t realise the bridge was in Thailand, and I didn’t know what it looked like, I just knew of the film, so it was nice ot go and see the place myself. The bridge itself was a much sturdier and more significant structure than I had been envisaging, I was worried the bridge would be somewhat of an anti-climax.

DSCF2348We decided to have a proper lunch and forego a major meal when we returned to Bangkok, so settled at a lovely floating restaurant that underlooked (is that a thing – the bridge was over looking us) the bridge. It was a buffet of Thai and western food and was awesome. We piled our plates stupidly high to take advantage of the opportunity. Travellers got to do what travellers got to do. There are definitely worse places to eat an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Once we were finished, we had to wait a lot longer for the reutnr journey than we expected. In true Thai time, the train was two hours late. What was annoying about his was that it turns out it happens every day. You’d think they would just change the timetable, but no. It was incredibly annoying as we could have seen some of Kanchanaburi instead, but we got some ice-creams and bought postcards to burn some time.

Our last visit to Bangkok taught us that tuk tuks and taxis are a bigger rip-off than we realised, and that going by metered taxi was the best call. Unfortunately, this is not always the easiest thig to do. I am already sick and tired of taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers trying to get you to go with them and not excepting no for an answer.

The early morning bike ride time is looking like more and more of a bad decision now as we have to do the Grand Palace in the same day. Stupid scheduling!

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