Kanchanaburi is 130km west of Bangkok in the valley of Mae Nam Klong, amid hills and sugar cane plantations. the town was originally established by King Rama 1 as a first line of defence against the Burmese, should they try to invade through the Three Pagodas Pass on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
During WW11 the Japenese used Allied prisoners of war to build the infamous Death Railway Bridge along this invasion route, from Mae Nam Khwae Noi to the Three Pagodas Path.
Thousands of prisoners died as a result of brutal teatment by their captors. their graves are found in the Kanchanaburi Allied war Cemetery and the Chinese Cemetery.
Arrival In Kanchanaburi
I’m staying at the Sugar Cane 2 guest house here in Kanchanaburi,. it’s so pretty here, it’s like a little village of bamboo huts, lush greenery and beautiful fushia pink flowers, all overlooking the Mae Nam Khwae river. My room has a double bed, private bathroom (with mirror – a luxury in guesthouse bedrooms!) and a window that overlooks the gardens and the inviting reception area/cafe, right on the banks of the river.
It’s a little bit of a walk from the guesthouse into the main stretch of cafes/bars (about 15 minutes) but it’s close to The Bridge over the River Kwai, which is where i took a walk to this afternoon. Ok, so it doesn’t take long to walk up and down the bridge and take a few photos (which can be a rather precarious activity in itself, especially when you need to pass someone coming from the opposite direction!) but it’s a lovely area to spend a bit of time. There are lots of shops and market stalls and several cafes along the riverside where you can grab yourself a nice cold drink and take in the scenery.
For the remainder of the afternoon i decided to wander in the other direction, towards the main traveller’s centre. All the bars and cafes are situation within more of the little wooden huts as found at my guesthouse. It’ is indeed “swoi-ma” and such a pleasant and serene contrast to Bangkok.
I ended up at the Kanchanaburi Allied War Cemetery and the Chinese Cemetery. The Chinese Cemetry was particularly haunting, as all the graves are numbered, in their hundreds. there’s a museum next door (the Thailand-Burma Railway centre) if you want to learn a bit of history about the Thailand-Burma railway : why it was built, why people died building it, and what has happened since the war ended.
Photo is of some of the ornate graves at the Chinese Cemetery, Kancahnaburi.