Bridge across River Kwai could have been yet another ordinary bridge in Thailand country side, but a movie in its name has made it immortal and made it a hugely popular tourist destination.
River Kwai flows in Thailand, at about 100 kms from Burma (now Mayanmar) border (the distance from Burma varies at different places). During world war 2, Japanese forces were in control of the area. To carry military supplies necessary to fight in Burma border, it was essential to build a bridge across river Kwai. History has it that prisoner of war (POW) were made to work on building the bridge. It is said that over 13000 people died while constructing this brige/railway track. The 1957 movie uses this plot and projects how British POW engineers helped correct the mistake done by Japanese engineers (who'd selected wrong place to build the bridge). Sensing its military significance, allied forced bombed it during the war and the bridge was reconstructed after war. But the irony is that the movie was actually shot in Srilanka and not Thailand.
River Kwai is locally known as Khwae Noi River. Images below show the photos of the bridge, which we visited during our Thailand trip. The rectangular spans in the centre were post war replacement, while semi circular spams are original.
Because of the movie, this place draws lots of tourists. Boat ride is offered from a nearby place (600 baht per person for boat ride), a war museum has collections from world war times.
A Chinese style temple exists on the other side of the river. Lots of floating restaurants cater to visiting tourists
Its a good experience visiting historical places. But the plight of forced labors who died building this structure needs a silent salute. In our day to day work, we criticize our employer, clients, colleagues over petty issues ranging from not so good food in canteen to not being happy about the hike. Not long ago, millions of people had to be lucky just to survive for a day. We don't have any idea how challenging life can be, because we're used to having all luxuries at our disposal.
There's no fee to visit this site. We also visited the hellfire pass. More about that in a separate post.