Saturday, April 18th – Huge day in effect riding the width of Thailand from just inside the border with Cambodia across to Kamchanaburi, where the Mae Klong river is formed as the confluence of the Kwae Yai and the Kwae Noi rivers, and over which the mis-named Bridge Over the River Kwai spans. Apparently the Kwae comes from the Kwae Noi valley along which the Burma railroad was built by prisoners and forced civilian labour in 1942-22.
Our ride is 430kms, and we began at 5.30am and end up arriving at 5pm. We were going to stop halfway but on arrival found the prospect uninspiring, in the end preferring to do the extra miles and get to a meaningful destination. Good decision – we enjoyed an evening beer at the Kwai River Resort watching the sun go down behind the bridge and then a meal at a restaurant alongside the tragic structure.
The traffic in Thailand is less suicidal than in Cambodia, mainly because the roads are far better and we’re on dual carriageway most of the day. But also the SUV drivers are a bit more civilised here which presumably comes about because of the presence of more police and Army near the roads, and the mere fact that Thailand is way further developed economically now than its neighbour. Indeed it reminds us of an earlier South Korea and we can imagine at this rate it too passing New Zealand in terms of economic development.
Sunday, April 19th – Up before dawn today so we can walk the bridge before the hoards arrive. Good call – we have it to ourselves and it’s a wonderful way to begin 2015’s ANZAC week. The bridge is in good nick still apart from the sleepers, several of which are hollowed out now with rot. But it clearly takes 6 train crossings a day so is sound. We have decided not to take the train up to Nam Tok as the return trip takes the hole day and we’d prefer to use that visiting the relevant cemeteries and museums around Kanchanaburi.
Monday, April 20th – Another early one, this time because we have a 200km run into Bangkok which at 9m people is total traffic chaos anyway, so we don’t expert to get to the freight forwarding warehouse until afternoon even with that 5.30 am start.