24 responses

  1. ciki
    June 6, 2011

    I am not sure why the couple did not know much, but we were taught very thoroughly in school about the atrocities of war (WW1 WW2). Definitely know about the atrocities of the Japanese occupation. My grandfather himself worked on the north south railway. He was lucky, after a spell, they moved him to work as post master, otherwise he would hv died on the lines – no future generation.. NO sons (my father).. then, no ME! haha:P English came and ‘educated’ the lot – my father’s syllabus in school was in English.

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      You might find some of the other comments interesting. People seem to be siding on the “culture” aspect of Asia not holding history in a practical form with high importance rather than an educational one.

      Liv’s point about not “questioning” in Asian culture is something I pick up as well.

  2. Anna’s World
    June 6, 2011

    This is amazing! So many things. I cant answer about why Asians dont care much about this side of history. But, if i were to guess I would say due to lack of a good education.

    The story of those prisoners is at least being told here. Thank you

  3. Harold Manning
    June 6, 2011

    Thank you for bringing the history of World War 2 to us. Many people have no idea about the war in the Pacific. This was an interesting read by all accounts.

  4. Kenny T
    June 7, 2011

    Just wanted to say thank you. Our history is not remembered as it should be. In answer to your question it’s to do with our desire to become a “developed” country. We think we are. But we are not. Many problems. And you are right, we have forgotten out past. Even our own ethnic tribes have disappeared.

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      If the problem in cultural, then history is indeed lost for the next few generations. Hopefully international historians will have done their job for the future generations.

  5. Raymond
    June 7, 2011

    It’s such a shame that so many cultures gloss over their past, especially when it comes to those who sacrificed their lives for their country. Thanks for the very thorough post!

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      Indeed, good point Raymond. “Glossed over” is something many cultures do when it comes to things they don’t want to think about.

  6. John Wilson
    June 7, 2011

    Good blog, David. I remember visiting the Holocaust museums when I traveled Europe – unbelievable what horror man can do to his fellow man.
    That is why I always argue against the idea that man is inherently good.
    I think most people do NOT want to visit or know about history due to their mental condition that if it is out of mind, it does not exist. If the reality of history was truly understood by todays younger people ( 20’s 30’s) they would be shaking like a leaf on a tree.
    Entertainment is the drug that is used to nullify any true sense of reality.
    Avoid the horrors of the past, ignore the realities of today, play with your Ipod and watch TV. If you do that, the world, in general, look pretty good. :)
    One way or another it is always the system keeping the masses looking elsewhere. The system does NOT want an educated, well informed citizenry. Much more difficult to control.
    Good questions, good thoughts and good read.
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      Nice points about the ipods etc John. In west Africa I picked up the term “Shiny and New”. For if something is not shiny and new many people simply are not interested in it. Kind of like buying a new computer. Instead of buying something for their needs, today people buy the “latest and greatest.” So a lot of computers are far too over powered and most of their power remains untouched. Even so, the people are happy.

      So yes, the fault does lie firmly on our own feet. And so, knowing this, the companies etc keep producing our fodder to keep us distracted.

      It’s a lot nicer to play paintball than to feel guilty about doing nothing.

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. Jason
    June 7, 2011

    Another good report Dave, and lets hope by you putting this out there, that more younger people get to visit. Visiting places such as this are often hard, definitely depressing and down right somber, but still it’s a story we must learn and never forget.

  8. wandering educators
    June 7, 2011

    sometimes, it is easier to read about it than to SEE it. i wasn’t able to bring myself to see the concentration camps when i’ve been in europe, yet i have read about them. my dad went, though – maybe it is personal? some can’t face horror (like me) and some can (you, my dad)? i don’t know. it is important to learn from the past, and learn OF the past.

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      Good points Jessie. Sometimes people don’t like to look at things that disturb them. I think it’s important we do things we don’t like. Almost like forcing ourselves to take bad tasting medicine. It ends up being for out own good!

  9. Traveling Ted
    June 8, 2011

    This museum would be the first place I would visit; however, I am a history teacher. I love visiting museums, battle fields, and other historic places. Great post and thoughtful analysis on why people prefer not to comprehend history.

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      Good to find out you are a history teacher Ted! And, very glad to hear you enjoyed the post. I hope this history will not become forgotten.

      • Traveling Ted
        June 9, 2011

        Did you ever visit Corregidor Island when you were in the Philippines? That is a really cool place to learn about World War II.

      • The Longest Way Home
        June 10, 2011

        No, at the time I wanted to go there was some sort of ferry dispute, so I missed out. I did however visit some of the caves further south where some Japanese soldiers had been found a decade after the war had ended. Still thinking the war was happening!

  10. PalawanMartin
    June 8, 2011

    The British army got their revenge on the Japanese in Burma later in the war, this was a “forgotten war” (notably by USA) , Japan tried to invade India with the help of some Indian independence “rebels”, and had to fight on 2 fronts , and this helped America win in the Pacific.
    The British Army won several victories in 1945 and captured many many Japanese, my grandad was there and he told me how he mistreated the “Japs”
    He always used to talk about the war and how we should be grateful to British and American soldiers for our freedom, it was very boring then, but ……….. He Was Right

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      Revenge is a dish best served cold. I think many “bad” things happen on all sides of this, and other wars. Such is it’s nature. I wonder how many of these stories get out? What certainly rings true is that to many people history is boring, I think educational systems lag behind when it comes to history. I always like the idea of making it personal. Instead of this date, this person. Relate it to a name, a place, a family then a date an even and so on. Make it personal, and people will listen. If they did that in Penang, I think it would be a much better place.

  11. Liv
    June 8, 2011

    I believe, fundamentally, it’s the treatment of the story. It’s about having the expertise to tell the story sensitively and appropriately – and it’s not there at this particular museum, it seems.

    And though terribly difficult and potentially, heck, is probably, controversial, I’d like to see a war museum that’s unbiased in their portrayal of the story. The two 20th century war-type museums I’ve been to (War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the A-Bomb Memorial Museum in Hiroshima) both presented one view. One told the story better, using some incredibly emotive language and imagery, but at the end of the day, they told only one side of the story.

    Have you noticed that hard questioning, by the way, is not a very strong cultural trait in Asia?

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 9, 2011

      You may have hit the nail on the head Liv. The story is no where to be found in Asian museums. And as you point out, very few people question anything in Asia. And while some argue that point, they are missing what is meant by that term. They know the facts, figures, and even take it personally. But, to rationalize into what other people when through, and question why? There is a definite lacking!

  12. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    June 9, 2011

    I think what you’re seeing is common in many parts of the world. People want to relax on their vacations and have fun, and not necessarily be reminded of a grim, horrific episode in history. That’s why beaches and casinos are so popular. I’m assuming the locals learned about this time period in school or from their family members who suffered through it, no? I visited several war museums in Vietnam and of course the famous Phnom Penh memorial in Cambodia, and there were certainly no paintball attractions nearby. Seems kind of strange to attach an arcade-type feature to a war memorial.

    • The Longest Way Home
      June 10, 2011

      Good points about people wanting to relax and not be reminded of bad time Leslie. I am reminded of that when a post about Roti Canai gets more people talking than something like this!

      Such is human nature. Some people want to read lovely “this and that”, forgoing realty. Shame that this seems to bring on an apathy for war and violence that streaks through our planet at the moment.

      Perhaps another reason the owners of the war museum but a paintball attraction there, it was the only way to bring people there!

  13. Jerm
    August 23, 2011

    Thanks for the post. My gf and I was just there last week. Had a good time. Learnt a lot and felt really proud and thankful to the soldiers defending the fort from attacks.

    i personally did feel afraid with the places where it was obvious death had happened. Superstitions played a part. Btw, my gf and I are Malaysian Chinese and we kinda believe that this whole month is the Chinese Ghost month where the gates of the underworld open and ghosts are allowed to wander on earth. that kinda explains the fear.

    anyways, most of the tourist spots in malaysia charge the two-tier pricing system because they believe international tourists are richer… lolz. neways, when we visited the place last week, the price for locals were rm20 and if not mistaken for foreigners, the price was rm40. price has increased.

    neways, great blog.. :)

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