Port Angeles, Washington
January 9, 2002
At the train station, Noi was very sweet and made sure to get us on the correct side of the train to get the good views. We took the train about two hours to Namlok (I think I got the name right), which was the end of the railway. The rest was removed to prevent the Burmese from using after WWII to get into Thailand. From Namlok we took a songtaew for about 25 minutes to Hellfire Pass.
Noi first took us on a short walk on the original railway bed which now looks like a trail. She took us to a site where the POWs cut through stone with handtools and dynamite to put in the railway. You could still see where bars were pounded into the rock. Then we walked up and saw the museum. It had displays describing the sequence of events in the area during WWII and the living conditions of the POWs. Especially touching was the video that was shown with images of the POWs and interviews with survivors. I don’t think there was a dry eye after that. Also touching were the photos and some drawing done by the prisoners.
We wondered if any Japanese people visit here and how folks felt about it. Noi said that there is still some anger, but it is not discussed.
Needless to say, the mood was very somber when we left. It was the one experience we had in Thailand that I would definitely not describe as fun, but it was interesting and touching, and I am glad that we went.
From journal Kanchanaburi – Week 2 of 4 of Thailand trip