Tourist Railcar along the Death Railway - 18th June 2017

06.30 depart Bangkok Hualamphong station

Time to get out of Bangkok for a day. I want to make the most of my time in Bangkok whilst the weather is still pretty dry. So today it was a very early start to get to Hua Lamphong station for 6:30. Today I took the special tourist railcar to Nom Tok. This is a weekend day trippers train along the Death Railway. It's aimed at locals rather than 'rich' tourists and is a 3rd class non-air-con seats at the stupidly cheap price of 120THB (£2.50) for the 13 hour trip. The train stops off at major sights along the way giving time to jump out, have an explore and take some photos before moving on to the next.

07:40 arrive Nakhon Pathom, 40 minute stop to visit the great Chedi (cone-shaped temple)

As always the train took a long time to go a short way as we left Bangkok. The trains seem to cross every road in Bangkok on the way out of Bangkok so a lot of waiting around for level crossings. Signs say that 'Travelling by Train is Comfort, Economical, Fast and Safe'. It's definitely economical and relatively safe compared to Thai roads but it is not necessarily fast and the seats are rock hard so I don't give them high marks for comfort.

First stop Nakhon Pathom for a look at a temple. A thousand years ago Nakhon Pathom was by the sea and a place of royal and religious significance. But the sea retreated more than 50 km and Nakhon Pathom became less important but ancient buildings remain.

The Phra Pathom Chedi (first holy stupa) is the tallest stupa in the world. It's claimed the original stupa on the site was established around 300BC and was the first in South East Asia. That claim as with all such claims to things being the first is disputed.

After leaving Nakhon Pathom the scenery became less and less built-up. Amongst the roads and villages that have built around the railway there were pockets of beautiful, lush paddy fields. Although as we are at the end of the dry season many paddy fields still lay barren. I guess in a couple of months the whole area will be bright green.

09:26 arrive Kanchanaburi, 3 minute stop

09:35 arrive River Kwai Bridge station and stop for 25 minutes

The next stop is at the Bridge on the River Kwai. Or at least that's what it is now. This is from the Man in Seat 61.

"There is a slight technical problem with the Bridge on the River Kwai: It crosses a river all right, but not the River Kwai. Pierre Boulle, who wrote the original book, had never been there. He knew that the 'death railway' ran parallel to the River Kwae for many miles, and assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just North of Kanchanaburi. He was wrong - It actually crosses the Mae Khlung. When David Lean's blockbuster came out, this gave the Thais something of a problem. Thousands of tourists flocked to see the Bridge on the River Kwai, and they hadn't got one, all they had was a bridge over the Mae Khlung. So, with admirable lateral thinking, they renamed the river. Since 1960, the Mae Khlung has been known as the Kwae Yai ('Big Kwae') north of the confluence with the Kwae Noi ('Little Kwae'), including the bit under the infamous Bridge."

The train stopped at the bridge for a perfect amount of time. I was in the front carriage so I got ahead of the crowd and walked across the bridge and down to the riverbank on the other side to take some photos. I then headed back across taking photos and there was still time to check out the tourist market on the station side.

I have been here before 20 years ago on my first trip to Asia and it is just as I remember it. It's not made of bamboo as you'd like to imagine it but as we are going across in a big diesel train that's probably for the best.

Time for the obligatory selfie be we headed on.

10.00 depart River Kwai Bridge station, cross the Bridge and head along the River Kwae via the impressive Wampo Viaduct.

The train trundles on across the bridge and heads through much more spectacular scenery from now on. The train follows the river valley but slowly climbs to be well above the river. The most impressive bit though is when we cross the Wampo Viaduct. This is a rickety piece of track built against a sheer cliff. The viaduct goes around the side of a mountain and from the side of the train there is a vast vertical drop. The whole thing is made out of wooden sleepers and with the old train and the way the bridge is constructed it looks like a Victorian-era seaside roller coaster.

The train goes over the viaduct slowly and as I was in the front carriage I got to look right out the front of the train was gave a great view of the line stretching around the cliff.

From here more great scenery until we reach Nam Tok and then a little further the end of the line at Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi - scenic waterfall.

11:30 arrive Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi - scenic waterfall

This is a touristy spot but mostly for locals. Before exploring properly I headed out to the main road to fine myself a local restaurant and some food. I found a place with a big BBQ outside and I saw a woman making papaya salad so I was sorted. She asked me if I wanted it spicy, I said yes. Believe me it certainly was spicy, I really enjoyed it but it made me sweat even more than I already was.

I then checked out the little market. The local speciality seems to be crisps made out of fruit and veg. I got some banana chips with spices sprinkled on them, very tasty. I then took a look at the waterfall which was not very impressive. It is thhe end of the dry season and the waterfall was pitiful but then local kids were having a great time splashing around in the pool below.

I went for a bit of a walk up above the waterfall and enjoyed the scenery. More pools with kids swimming, some caves and lots of banana plants growing alongside the paths.

14.25 leave Nam Tok station heading back south

Soon it was time to jump back on board and head back the way we came. So for the journey back the train went the other way so we were in the back carriage. This gave a great view out the window of the train going back across the viaduct.

And the back across the bridge.

15.53 arrive at Kanchanaburi station and stop for 60 minutes for a visit to the war graves

The next stop was in Kanchanaburi giving us a chances to visit the war graves. I have seen these before but the place doesn't lose its impact on you.

Row upon row of immaculately looked after graves. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission does an amazing job of commemorating those who died. In this grave yard it is mainly Brits and Dutch troops who died during the construction of the railway.

Propped up against the cross in the centre of the graveyard was this picture. Obviously his relatives had come to the graveyard after his death to leave this. It was quite touching to see the picture of a man who survived the Death Railway and went on to live to be around 100.

It was a pity we didn't have time to visit the Death Railway museum. I visited it many years ago and really puts into perspective the scale of the task that building the railway was and the conditions they had to endure.

This plaque was on the wall of the cemetery by the entrance.

16.53 leave Kanchanaburi

From Kanchanaburi it was a few hours on those hard seats before getting back to Bangkok after a cracking day out.

19.25 arrive back in Bangkok Hualamphong station

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