River Kwai (Kwae) Area Report

Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 02:39 PM
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River Kwai (Kwae) Area Report

On our November trip, we left Bangkok and headed south by the sea salt farms then northwest toward the Burma border.

We stopped at a coconut farm where we watched the process of making coconut sugar (yummy stuff!) Since we had enjoyed several delicious desserts using this in Cambodia (and were to have more in northern Thailand), we bought some to take home and try. It’s supposed to last 3 months. Then it was on to the floating market at Damnoen Saduak –very touristy but colorful and photogenic. Another stop was at the Royal Thai Artisan Center, established by the Queen to support employment in local crafts. Highlights were fabulous ornately carved teak panels and furniture.

We stopped in Kanchanaburi for lunch at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the bridge of movie fame on the River Kwai then visited the War Cemetery and Museum. During WWII thousands of Allied POW’s and Asian conscripts died while being forced by the Japanese to build the Thailand-Burma Railway.

About an hour later we reached the River Kwai Resortel, in a beautiful rocky gorge jungle setting on the banks of a branch of the Kwai River. It is only reached by boat. Long-tailed hotel boats carry guests and luggage from the parking area about 10 minutes up river. We had a thatched roof duplex cabin overlooking the river. It was basic but beautifully decorated in Thai style with good air conditioning and hot water. There is a large bar, internet area, and dining room where we had good buffet breakfasts and dinners. There is a beautiful pool and several sitting areas around the lush and lovely grounds. Many of the workers here are Burmese Mon refugees. Thailand allows them to live and work here as long as they like, but they cannot become Thai citizens and cannot leave Kanchanaburi province. On some evenings some of the younger ones present a Traditional Mon dance show in a pavilion behind the dining hall. It was excellent with elaborate costumes and sophisticated dances, some very athletic.

The next morning we took an hour long boat ride upriver through rocky gorges and thickly forested steep banks, seeing lots of water birds and other animals. From the end of the boat trip, a pickup truck took us a mile or so to the Hell Fire Pass Museum (excellent). From the museum we hiked along the original rail route, where some of the ties are still visible, to Hell Fire Pass (one of the most difficult sections of the railroad construction). We were there on 11/11 and a large group of Australians were there for a veterans memorial service at 11am. All of them were blood relatives of POW's who had worked on the railroad and there were 4 surviving POW’s there. I met and was able to chat with one of them, Bill Haskell. A very memorable experience!
From the museum, we stopped by the National Park and hiked to some waterfalls where many locals were swimming. Then we boarded a railway car and rode from what is now the end of the line to the stop nearest the River Kwai Resortel.
A completely enjoyable two days here and interesting change of pace from Bangkok!

Angelyn is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Angelyn, Sounds like we did a lot of the same things. Also stayed at the River Kwai Resortel and also walked the bridge, did the train ride, hiked Hell Fire Pass and the Peace Museum and went to the War Cemetery. Very sad place. The Australian POW doctor who did so much for the other POW`s went back to Australia after the war, and petitioned the government to build that Peace Museum. When he did die later, he had his ashes scattered over Hellfire pass. Waiting to hear the rest of your report. We were at the Siam Heritage the same time as you, but missed you by about a week at the River Kwai Resortel. Wasn`t that little boy Mon dancer something? The older boy was good too.
pat is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2006, 06:35 PM
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I read a small article in my National Geographic Traveler magazine about a cruise on the River Kwai. I looked at the itenary and it did look interesting. Has anyone been on this?? Any comments-please contact me at [email protected] There will be 2 couples traveling end of next October. Thanks Chris
BeniciaChris is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2006, 07:58 PM
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great report thanks...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2006, 08:32 PM
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Benicia/Chris: I very nearly did that River Kwai cruise about 6 weeks ago but their office was so hopeless I pulled out.

Communication was a problem, their E mails did not arrive, mysteriously, then, the night before I was due to leave, their rep, who looked about 12 years old, turned up at my hotel and announced that they didn't have credit card facilities and demanded cash on the spot. Strangely enough, I didn't have $1100 in cash at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night, nor would I have given it to him if I had.

Any company that doesn't even have credit card facilities seems a bit suss to me. So I cancelled.
dogster is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2006, 02:47 AM
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Great to read such interesting reports on the River Kwai area.

The Australian doctor to which Pat refers was Edward (later Sir Edward) "Weary" Dunlop.

Visting Kanchanaburi and surrounds is one of the best things I have done in Thailand. It was the history that took me there, but really the area has a little of everything - a gentle pace of of life in the town; lots of day trip options; interesting scenery and the opportunity to visit a village or two.

And not only is it easy to get to from Bangkok, there are places of interest on the way - even if you are travelling by public transport.

Happy travels all.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2006, 04:45 AM
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Pandaw used to run a cruise on the Kwai, but pulled out because the logistics were too difficult. They sold the operation and the boat to a Thai Company. I'm not sure if this is the cruise that is being referred to but if so, their web site did not full me with confidence.
Tangata is offline  
Old Dec 11th, 2006, 08:50 PM
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dogster-Thank you for your information. I have E-mailed them 2 times with NO response. I printed up the inenary and it looks very interesting but if they cannot even E-mail back I best not chance it.Has anyone had any luck with this??? Their web site is www.cruiseasia.net
BeniciaChris is offline  
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