If you happens to be in Bangkok, Thailand, and you plan to stay in that area for a few days, one of the things you should visit, except for all the other regular touristy spots, are the two cemeteries from world war 2.
The cemeteries are located near the city of Kanchanaburi, located about 125 KM west of Bangkok. This is about a 3 hour drive, depending of course of the traffic in the Bangkok area. We hired a driver and private car via one of the many travel agencies in Bangkok.
Kanchanaburi is a city with prox 30-35 00 people, and you can find plenty of places to stay if you do not want to make this trip a day roundtrip. I was very happy after we decided to stay a night there before traveling back to Bangkok, because you need a whole day in and around the cemeteries.
I decided with a friend, probably 20 years ago already, that we could not, as former military men, skip a visit to this place. We had to go and pay our respect, as well as see it it with our own eyes, and learn more from this already well know part of our history.
The cemetery me and a colleague, a former Army man from UK, visited was the Chungkai (sometimes Chung/Chong Kai) cemetery. And it is really a very special experience. I did not expect it to be such a “special” experience. I dont know if it more feelings were displayed by us both because we were former military men, thus could maybe relate a little bit. I guess we kind of looked at the men laid to rest as some sort of colleagues.
Pictures above shows my colleague (from the cruise industry), the former British Army guy.
We stood together looking at a young soldiers grave, and my friend noticed this soldier was from his area in England. He showed very strong feelings. We were then disturbed by noise from some kids, we turned and saw a (local) family also walking the cemetery. Their young kids didn’t really understand the seriousness we showed, so we both turned and looked at them, astonished. The father of the kids looked at us, clearly extremely embarrassed, and called on his sons with a very angry, but not too loud voice. We smiled and nodded towards him. He understood what this place meant to us.
When you walk around at this very well maintained area, you get this silent thoughtful feeling. You walk around looking at the walls, graves, plaques, with various information on. You sometimes struggle with your emotions maybe. At least the two of us did when were were walking around.
I spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting over all the things I was reading. It makes you kind of rethink many aspects of your lucky life.
And finally, we went to have a look at the rebuilt famous (or infamous) bridge, crossing over the river Kwai. We were told this bridge was not in the exact position as the original, but was exactly like the original in design. My friend started to get a bit agitated when he noticed all the Japanese tourists taking pictures, smiling and enjoying the Bridge. As a Scandi I can only try to think how angry my British friend must have been. I guess we find this kind of tourists everywhere.
I am today so glad I always bring with me a camera of some sort, wherever I go or travel. The pics I have posted here are not the best quality. But the pictures are mine, and my personal memories.
I really really suggest you have a trip to Kanchanaburi and visit these cemeteries. if you have a choice between a floating marked, crocodile farm, and this. There is not competition really. This is still not (I am been told) commercialized.
Forever greatful for their ultimate sacrifice for their future generations fredom.