From Chaing Mai we got the train to Lopburi. we got in at around 4am so stayed in the station till it got light. As Lopburi is another ancient town their were a few sights we wanted to see. However we were knackered as we had no sleep on the train (our seat kept breaking) so only had a quick walk around taking in Prang Sam Yot, Prang Khaek, Phra Narai Ratchaniwet and Wat Phra si Ratana Mahathat from the road. It was still too early to go in and we saved ourselves the entrance fees. We saw all we wanted from the outside anyway. We then walked to the bus station which was much further than we had anticipated and caught a bus to suphanaburi and from there another bus to Kanchanaburi. even though this was the long way to do it the scenery along the route was well worth it. Fell asleep in parts though as i was so tired.
The next day we started out with visiting the Thailand-burma railway centre as it would give us some good general information on the building of the railway and its effects. Not only did we learn about the construction of the railway but also japanese aggression before and during WWII. The main reason for the construction of the railway was for the japanese to get resources to their armies in Burma overland through Thailand where it was safe from allied attack. In all the musuem was well worth the visit as it got accross the human suffering that went into its construction and the sheer scale of its construction. Just acroos the road from the museum is the Kanchanaburi allied war cemetery. Its here that 6,982 POW's are buried. After the end of the war the many graves that lined the railway wer removed and interned in 3 larger cemeteries that could be well maintained. Visiting the cemetery was avery emotional experience. We then made our way down to the Jeath war museum which is run my monks. The exhibts that they have are contained in a reconstruction of a POW hut and have been collected over the years, some have been given by POW's themselves. However the state that they have been allowed to get in is horrible, lots of pictures and photos have been damaged by water damage or torn. Not a lot seems to be done to protect and preserve them, there is no evidence that the money that we provide as admission goes to the upkeep of the museum. To end the day we walked down to the Kwai River Bridge. The original bridge was bombed during the war but was rebuilt after it ended. You can even take the train over it as some of the railway is still working, though it ends a few stops after the bridge. we watched as it came over, loads of people wanted to take photos and stood on the track to get a better vantage point. There was only one policeman holding them back. One guy kept standing on the track so the policeman waited till his back was turned and aimed a stone at his feet to frighten him back. He jumped and didn't try it again.
To get to Hellfire Pass we caught a bus from the bus station which dropped us off near to the entrance. The pass was part of the death railway and has been converted into a memorial and a museum to commerorate the australian POW's who chipped away at the rock to create the pass. Not only did we visit the museum but we also walked some of the 4km trail that follows the path of the track.
Our few days here have been jamed packed and very emotional. we had swapped the ancient history of the country with its temples and palaces for the more modern experiences of the second world war.
From here we went back to Bangkok via a minibus as it saved a lot of hassle with transport to and from bus stations as we would be dropped back in Khosan road. Here we booked a bus to Siem Reap and went in search of the Cambodian embassy to obtain our visas. We could have got them at the border but since we had a day to spare in Bangkok we thought it would be less hassle to get them before. However the site of the embassy had changed and it took us a while to find it. Got it done swiftly once we found it.