This is the draw which brings people to Katchanaburi, the bridge immortalised by Pierre Brouelle's novel and David Lean's film. In actuality, the real bridge was destroyed at the end of World War II and this is a black steel girdered replacement - but it still has presence. Constructed by POW labour during WWII when 60,000 men toiled to build it in horrendous conditions (my grandfathers brother was one). The railway was to provide easy access for Japanese troops to reach Burma and it is estimated that one man died for each girder of track.
It is quite a walk from the centre of Katachanburi, so taking a tuk-tuk or hiring a bicycle as we did is a good option. It is west of town along the Manaem Kwai road and it is a long walk in the humidity. On the far bank is jungle and on the east bank is a terraced plaza crowded with trinket sellars and restaurants. But the view of the Kwai river below is beautiful.
You can walk across the black girders to an even better vantage point, where the sandbanks where the POW's toiled are visible. The railway bridge is still used and while we were there, the Orient Express crossed the bridge trapping us on the other side.
But watching the activity on the bridge while sipping an ice-cold coke from a restaurant is one of the pleasures of South-East Asia.