For our second field trip, my program shuttled us to the province of Kanchanaburi, which is about a 3 hour drive from Bangkok, to partake in a history lesson and play in the jungle.
Bridge over the River Kwai
1942–The year during WWII that Kanchanaburi was under Japanese control. It was then that the Japanese forced laborers and Allied POW’s, under hellish conditions, to build the infamous Burma “Death” Railway through mountainous jungle. The intended purpose of the railway was to get supplies from Myanmar (Burma) into Thailand. Part of the railway required the laborers to build a bridge over the river. Almost half of the prisoners working on the railway project died from disease, maltreatment, and accidents (about 90,000 individuals).
1945–The year the Allies successfully bombed the bridge, thus halting the incoming flow of Japanese supplies. The POW’s were forced to rebuild/repair the bridge, after which it was bombed again….and rebuilt again. Finally, it was bombed a third time and put out of use for the rest of the war.
I was a little dismayed at the tourist market surrounding the bridge, but the history and deep emotion can still be felt amid the hustle.
Taweechai Elephant Camp
Here, I was able to experience an elephant ride and bamboo rafting. I started out being really excited about the elephant ride, until I actually got on one. My feelings immediately shifted to one of unease and distress. The poor girl was so tired and her handler was a bit harsh. It was quite an event, but one that I won’t do again.
But then I went for a swim in the Khwae Yai River, and it was awesome! I risked someone dropping my camera in the water just so I could have a picture to document that I actually got into the water!
Party on a river barge
This was an excuse to cut loose and kick back with some good food, awesome dancing, and a crazy downpour!!