Thailand / travel

Kayaks over the River Kwai

Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of writing over the last week. We have spent a lot of time travelling so I have decided to combine the last few days’ worth of activities into a single blog.

Let me take you back to Tuesday morning… A glint of sapphire sparkles in the sunshine as a lonely kingfisher swoops above the River Kwai… An egrets stands close by, waiting patiently for it’s morning meal in the shadow of a bridge which claimed the lives of over twelve thousand allied prisoners of war…

The ‘Death Railway’ was constructed in 1943 and spanned over a distance of 415 kilometres between Burma and Thailand. Around 250 thousand Asian civilian labourers and more than 60 thousand allied prisoners of war were placed subject to it’s construction. Over 100 thousand of these died due to the torturous conditions and treatment of the workers. Today the railway sits silent, the bridge stands silent and the river flowing under it would too stand silent if it were not for twenty or so tourists in multicoloured kayaks, fighting the gentle current which pushes against their paddles.

I sat in my boat, the humidity causing my shirt to stick to my back in the early morning heat. As I paddled I wondered of the history that section of the river holds, the lives taken and minds destroyed under the cruelty of forced labour. I glided under the bridge, it’s black steel supports standing erect and sinister. I wondered what was beneath me, what treasures I would find if I searched in the river bed, treasures lost in history, treasures lost in time.

My wonders haunted me into the following day and it wasn’t until we entered the beautiful Erawan National park on Wednesday that my thoughts shifted. A jungle covered mountain range filled the horizon, a palace for god’s, centred by a seven-tiered waterfall which plunges down a cliff face, each level harder to reach and more dangerous to trek. The jungle path leading to the top is riddles with macaques, each one curious to grab and clamber over the many hikers wanting to reach the summit: a gorgeous pool glistening green and blue, filled to the brim with fish. A natural slide formed from millenniums of erosion accompanies the falls, providing hours of entertainment as you surge into the fresh water at the bottom – a shelter from the harsh heat above the surface. Time and time again we climbed and slid back down, on our bellies, on our backs, head first and feet first. The exhilaration banishing the tedious hours of travelling we had endured over the days beforehand.

Erawan Waterfalls – 4th Tier

Our trip to Erawan was followed by a few days of self-entertainment in Bangkok. I spent the hours walking the streets, observing Water monitors basking in the tropical climate and cycling through the urban neighbourhoods. After being filled to burst with street food I said goodbye to the city of life and find myself here, once again on a bus. This time, however, the bus is going to Koh Tao, and it’s going to be another adventure entirely…

An Asian Water Monitor basking in the canals of Bangkok

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