Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery,
the Bridge on the River Kwai, and Hellfire Pass
Our tour group departed the Evergreen Lauren Hotel and Bangkok early this morning and headed west toward Ratchaburi and Kanachaburi Provinces. Our first stop was the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
|Damnoen Saduak Floating Market|
|Tourist shops along the canals|
|Items for sale at the Floating Market|
|Toilet facilities in Thailand were mixed - everything from elegant and modern to these "squat toilets." |
The green bowl is for dipping water from the pool to flush the toilet.
|Our tour members wait to board their boat.|
|Rob and our boatman|
|Some of our tour members explore the Floating Market|
|We could buy tropical fruits right off the boat.|
|Some of the boats had their own grills all fired up.|
|Coconut water, anyone?|
|Why, yes, please!|
|Traffic jam in the floating market|
|As the morning got later, the traffic jam got worse!|
|Joan and Rob on the bridge over the Floating Market|
Back on the bus, Yo described a variety of tropical fruits she had picked up in the market: sapodela, lady finger bananas, egg bananas, rose apple, guava, and jack fruits. As she described them, she handed out tasty samples of each. We topped off the fruit with samples of a sweet and salty Thai "taco," and Ka-nom-sai-sai, a Thai dessert of tapioca and rice flour stuffed with coconut flesh and cooked in a banana leaf.
|Yo often handed out Thai treats she had picked up for us.|
|Entering Kanchanaburi - pictures of the King and Queen were spotted|
everywhere we went in Thailand.
|Entering the city of Kanchanaburi|
|Plaque at the entrance to the War Cemetery|
|Memorial at the War Cemetery|
|Graves of the POWs who perished while working on the|
|"To those who loved and lost you|
your sweet memory will never grow old"
Our trip into World War II history continued through the rest of the day. Our lunch stop was on an outdoor patio overlooking the famous Bridge over the River Kwai. (Kwai, we learned, is pronounced to rhyme with the a in hat or quack, rather than with a long I sound.) Lunch included one of my favorite Thai dishes, mee krob, a sweet crispy noodle.
|Lunch on the banks of the River Kwai|
|Rob does a "low five" with a Thai youngster|
|Rob and Joan by the River Kwai|
|The Bridge over the River Kwai|
Like the market, the bridge has become overrun with tourists, but Rob and I walked all the way across, past the big crowds, to a replica of one of the camps where it was much more peaceful and we could pay our respects to the prisoners who had given their lives to work on the ill-fated railroad.
|Crowds on the bridge|
|Yo, Joan, and Rob on the bridge over the River Kwai|
|Replica of one of the prison campls|
|The far end of the bridge|
|A small herd of water buffalo was grazing on the far side of the river.|
This collection of buildings stood on the other side of the river. I'm not sure if it was a temple or a park, but I enjoyed the large statue and strange colorful pillar of serpentine dragons.
|View across the river.|
|Pillar of dragon-snakes|
The last stop of the day was the most emotional of all - a visit to Hellfire Pass.
|Hellfire Pass Museum|
From April 1943 the work pace increased to a frenzy as the Japanese strove to meet the revised deadline for completion. Prisoners of war and romusha were made to work punishing 15 to 18 hour shifts day and night, struggling to meet the demands of their captors.
At night, work parties continued by the light of bamboo torches and bonfires. At Konyu Cutting, the eerie flickering light and the shadows of gaunt, starved men working in the cutting led to its infamous nickname, "Hellfire Pass."
After visiting the small museum, Rob and I walked down the trail through a bamboo forest to the Konyu Cutting itself. There were still traces of the doomed railroad visible in the trail. Along the walls of the pass were plaques and remembrances of the men who had died there, including one showing one of the men who died here and his wife, who died many years later, saying "Reunited At Last." I got a little teary thinking about the agony of the men who worked and died here.
|Traces of the old railroad along the trail into Hellfire Pass|
|Memorial to a fallen soldier|
|Memorials placed by family members on the walls of the Konyu Cutting - Hellfire Pass|
|The end of the trail|
|Looking back through Hellfire Pass|
|Sarah and Aaron|
|Kim, Rob, and Joan|
Our final destination was the Hintok River Camp, a compound of large tents on platforms above the lovely forested River Kwai. Rob and I settled into our big comfortable tent and enjoyed the outdoor buffet dinner served under torch lights on the grounds of the camp.
|The deck of Hintok River Camp overlooking the River Kwai|
|View of the River Kwai from the Hintok River Camp|
|Our tent accomodations|
The inside of the tent was nice and homey...
...although you did have to zip yourself in and out of the open-to-the-air bathroom so no mosquitoes could enter the tent. Happily, we didn't see any mosquitos!