The Death Railway

We went on a tour to visit the Erawan waterfalls and the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Emma is blogging about the waterfalls. I wanted to blog about the railway.

The bus tour started at the waterfalls. We spent a few hours there and then we went to one of the Death Railway train stations. I learned that the railway was made by prisoners of war during World War II. They had to build it all by hand and were not treated very well by the Japanese. Many of the prisoners died and that is why it is called the “Death Railway”.

Death Railway Trestle

My Mum & Dad beside the trestle

The train station was very interesting. It was very small. It had a market beside it which which my Mum liked.

Near the train station, the railway went along the side of a cliff. It was supported by a old wooden trestle. The trestle was very tall and very old. It went it about 100 meters. At the other end the cliff had been chiselled by hand to make room for the railway. You could see the blade marks on the side of the cliff.

We walked along the tracks and over the trestle to the other end. Some parts were 20 meters above the ground. It wasn’t that scary, but my Mum was was pretty worried. She was worried that a train would come when we were in the middle of the trestle. Luckily, it never came when we were walking there.

Walking on the trestle

Walking on the trestle

The view from the train

The view from the train

When the train finally arrived, we got on. The carriages were very old and the windows were all open. It was very crowded. The train didn’t move very fast, but the view was nice.

I observed that the tracks were only along cliffs for a small park of the railway line. We were in farm land most of the time.

We stopped at a station in the middle of a farmers field to get back on our bus. We had to walk past farm animals to get to our bus.

The bridge over the river Kwai

The bridge over the river Kwai

That night after the tour, we walked over the bridge over the river Kwai (Dad says that there was a movie about it). it was a re-made bridge that the Allies had bombed many times. After we walked over the bridge, an outdoor show started on the other side of the river. We watched it from the river.

It showed life in the railway camps. They kept trying to escape and there was lots of gun fire and explosions. When they escaped, a boat came and found them. At one point a steam train came across the bridge. The Allies bombed the bridge and more explosions went off. The guy on the boat was in flames and had to jump into the water. The show was cool.

An authentic Japanese steam train

An authentic Japanese steam train

The day after the train ride we went to a museum about the Death Railway. It made me sad and mad. I was sad because of all the bad things that happen to the prisoners. I was mad, because the Japanese got away with it for so long.

First the museum talked about why they built the railway. The Japanese built the railway from Thailand to Burma to send troops into Burma. If they succeeded in taking over Burma they would rule all of south east Asia. Taking all of south east Asia was all the Japanese wanted. And that is why the Japanese built the railroad from Thailand to Burma.

Later I learned that Japan had taken over most of China, Singapore, Hong Kong, part of Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, almost all of Burma and many islands in the Pacific.

Now back to the railway. The railway was made by prisoners of war and slave labour from neighbouring countries held by the Japanese. There where almost all nationalities that the Japanese had conquered. The Japanese soldier promised many Burmese and Malaysians that they could have a better life with the railway. In the end, the Japanese would forced them to go. The conditions were horrible.

Working on the railway was torture. You were out working in all type of weather. You slept on hard bamboo beds with no mattresses. Many of the Japanese soldiers were very mean, but not all. You could only go to the doctor if you had lost a limb or had a serious disease.

The food was poor quality and very limited. Often it was just a weak rice soup. The meat was often rotten and full of bugs. Many of the prisoners and slave labourers became very thin. In the pictures you could see all their bones.

It is a very sad story. In the end the Allies defeated Japan and freed all the prisoners and slave labourers.

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