An insane minibus driver meant that I arrived in Kanchanaburi in a record 3 hours, getting in at just gone 11am.
Nonetheless, I made it to my destination in one piece and was dropped off a mere 1 km walk from the Bridge on the River Kwae. The bridge is smaller than I thought it would be, with surprisingly few people actually on the bridge structure itself. It seems that the majority of those tourists visiting the area preferred to spend time eating in the restaurants, haggling in the market and posing for photographs with animals that should be free in the wild.
As to the latter, between the bridge and the JEATH museum, there was a leopard cat that was heavily sedated and used as tourist bait so that morons with more money than sense could have a photograph taken with it.
During my time in Thailand, this is one of the hardest things to deal with, the sheer amount of wildlife that is used for tourism and ‘entertainment’ is shocking, and what makes it even harder to witness are the ever-willing western tourists engaging in such stupid, barbaric and dangerous practices, never questioning the true atrocities that lie behind that ‘cute’ monkey, or that ‘fluffy’ leopard cat.
I soon made my way to the Allied War Cemetery, about 3kms away. Having a degree in History I am no stranger to war cemeteries and battlefield sites. Nonetheless, it was a far more emotional experience than I had expected. Despite being in the centre of a very crowded Kanchanaburi, with the main road running parallel to the cemetery’s entrance, it was very peaceful and there seemed to be a real degree of respect and contemplation within its parameters – something that was lacking at The Bridge on the River Kwae.
Across the road is the Railway Museum. This place is very true to the history it claims to represent, with great exhibitions, video testimonies of POW survivors and wonderful interactive sources. Begrudgingly I had to depart the museum earlier than desired in order to catch the 4pm minibus leaving for Sangklaburi.