Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is a place for remembrance and reflection
It’s not so often that a place will bring a person to stop. Tourist thrill seeker, family holidaymakers, package tourists or independent traveler, we should all reflect on the freedom we have to travel.
This is not the freedom of breaking free of a cubicle, a lifestyle nor a cause.
This is the real freedom of choice. A freedom many people died to give us.
A freedom that allows us to live as we do today.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery or Don-Rak War Cemetery as it’s known locally is the last resting place of nearly 7,000 Prisoners of War who died during the construction of the Burma Death Railway.
Originally buried all along the railway line itself. The Allies decided to move the bodies to three new cemeteries at Thanbyuzayat, Chungkai and Kanchanaburi so that they may be better looked after.
Due to the South East Asian weather conditions traditional headstones could not be used. Instead bronze plaques were used with many inscriptions from families.
I find more emotion here than at the infamous bridge on the river Kwai. These are the real stars, or rather heroes, we should be flocking to see.
Finally, in the corner of Kanchanaburi war cemetery are the rows of tombstones dedicated to the unknown soldiers.
And at the rear is a plot where the ashes of 300 POWs from the cholera outbreak are laid to rest.
There is a quote written on many WWII plaques and tombs.
“Lest we forget …”
I don’t think we will forget. But, I do think we have not been able to learn from our past, yet.
How to get to Kanchanaburi War Cemetery from Bangkok
- There are numerous tour buses offering day trips or transport to Kanchanaburi via mini van and bus.
- Via train there is a special weekend tourist train that leaves from Bangkok’s main train station Hualamphong at a cost of approx 120 bhat. It’s destination is actually the Burma Death Railway but it stops for about 45 minutes at Kanchanaburi train station. Simply walk straight out of the station to the main road, turn left and walk 5 minutes.
- The cemetery is across the road on your right. The weekend train leaves about 6am and returns at 6pm-7pm from Hualamphong with tickets available in advance.
- Another option is to take a train from Bangkok’s Thonburi station.
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