Kanchanaburi | Thailand

Bridge Over River Kwai Kanchanaburi

Thailand Tour 2013

Kanchanaburi | Thailand

21 Oct 2013 | Mon

Day 05 of 43

  • Bridge Over River Kwai Kanchanaburi
  • River Kwai Floating Raft Restaurant Kanchanaburi
  • Somchai Dontrithai Music Factory Kanchanaburi
  • Kanchanaburi Fresh Market

Bridge Over River Kwai Kanchanaburi

In 1941, the Japanese Army began construction of a railway bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand. The purpose of the bridge was to transport supplies and troops to their Burma campaign during World War II. The bridge was completed in 1943, and became known as the Bridge Over the River Kwai. The bridge was immortalized in the 1957 film of the same name, which told the story of British prisoners of war who were forced to build the bridge.

Bridge Over River Kwai Kanchanaburi

The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, the Siam–Burma Railway, the Thai–Burma Railway and similar names, is a 415 km (258 mi) railway between Ban Pong, Thailand and Thanbyuzayat, Burma (now called Myanmar). It was built from 1940 to 1943 by civilian labourers impressed or recruited by the Japanese and prisoners of war taken by the Japanese, to supply troops and weapons in the Burma campaign of World War II. It completed the rail link between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma. The name used by the Japanese Government is Tai–Men Rensetsu Tetsudō, which means Thailand-Burma-Link-Railway.

Between 180,000 and 250,000 Southeast Asian civilians and over 60,000 Allied prisoners of war were subjected to forced labour during its construction. Around 90,000 of the civilians died, as did more than 12,000 Allied prisoners.

Most of the railway was dismantled shortly after the war. Only the first 130 kilometres (81 mi) of the line in Thailand remained, with trains still running as far north as Nam Tok.

– Wikipedia Burma Railway

The bridge has become an iconic symbol of Thailand and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Every year, thousands of people visit the bridge to walk across it and take in the stunning views. But be careful – trains still use this bridge, so make sure to avoid them as you walk!

One of the most notable portions of the entire railway line is Bridge 277, the so-called “Bridge on the River Kwai“, which was built over a stretch of the river that was then known as part of the Mae Klong River. The greater part of the Thai section of the river’s route followed the valley of the Khwae Noi River (khwae, ‘stream, river’ or ‘tributary’; noi, ‘small’. Khwae was frequently mispronounced by non-Thai speakers as kwai, or ‘buffalo’ in Thai). This gave rise to the name of “River Kwai” in English. In 1960, because of discrepancies between facts and fiction, the portion of the Mae Klong which passes under the bridge was renamed the Khwae Yai (แควใหญ่ in the Thai language; in English, ‘big tributary’).

On 26 October 1942, British prisoners of war arrived at Tamarkan to construct the bridge. Initially, 1,000 prisoners worked on the bridge and were commanded by Colonel Philip Toosey. In February 1943, 1,000 Dutch prisoners of war were added to Tamarkan.

The bridge was made famous by Pierre Boulle’s novel The Bridge over the River Kwai and its film adaptation, The Bridge on the River Kwai. However, the film and book contain many historical inaccuracies, and should be considered works of fiction.

– Wikipedia The Bridge on the River Kwai

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