For the Past few Years i have been Making an Annual Pilgrimage from Here in Chiang Mai down to Kanchanaburi to Join the Services held every Year for Anzac Day. Anzac Day is of Special Importance to Australians and New Zealanders and Marks the Coming of Age so to Speak of Our Countries Armed Forces and the first Time they were side by side in Battle and Dates Back to Gallipoli in WW1. It is Celebrated Worldwide on the 25th of April.
This is quite a Special Site if You look up the History of the Area, “Bridge over River Khwai”, “Death Railway”, “Hell Fire Pass” to name a few!!!
The Event is Sponsored by the New Zealand and Australian Defense Attache ( Governments ) And at the end of the Day even throw in some Big Ice Boxes filled with NZ & Aussie Beers, Great Stuff!!! The first time I made this Trip it was together with a Few Friends but it seems to be Growing Every Year and We are joined By all Nationalities. So if You would Like to Come along or Meet Us there please feel free to Contact Me for More Details.
My Special Thanks goes out to Some of My Friends for their Excellent Photo’s and Words included in this Report!!! See you there Next Year!!! Enjoy the Post.
ANZAC Day in Thailand was officially celebrated with a dawn service at Hell-Fire Pass and then later that morning at Kanchanaburi cemetery.
Others joined us from Bangkok & Phuket at Kanchanaburi’s venerable “Luxury Hotel” which is good value for 700THB a night,
but also certainly aspirational in name.
in the dark, and into the bus – with Dave Early’s Laos slide show playing great pix and music.
At the Hell-Fire Pass Museum the Australian Government had put together a a well organised reception committee guiding those of us
who were still unsteady of foot, as well as the Old & the Bold, down the steep concrete path evocatively illuminated by bamboo candles & lanterns.
At 0530 in the still of the jungle was broken by the steady crunch of the armed Catafalque Party from the Australian Army slow marching down,
to take up positions around the stone memorial in Hell Fire Pass.
Hymns were sung and sermons read before the Last Post was Played by Royal Thai Army trumpeters
followed by the skirl of bagpipes from pipers of the British Club in BKK.
Some bikers from Pattaya had come up on their mostly unplated big-bikes.
Though they did have their own special Polo-Shirts displaying their philanthropic charitable purpose.
After the service we made our way through the Hell-Fire Pass Cutting with its plaques
to the heroes like “Weary” Dunlop and regimental memorials.
A section of the railway is still in place.
What was amazing was the numbers of both bemedelled veterans [a few with Military Crosses]
and young Australians.
Elsewhere the the jungle appears to be reclaiming what was once its own.
Back at the top those who had not been around the excellent museum did so,
whilst others downed tea and coffee laced with the traditional shot of Bundaberg Rum before heading back to Kanchanaburi.
Along the way Ian stopped at a section of the railway
that is still in use today.
Ian & Terry seeing if a Bungy jump would work??
Later that morning we attended the ceremony at the Kanchanaburi cemetery where some 600+ people came to pay their respects.
Here one of the 5 POW survivors attending gave an address including the evocative poem “Mates”.
Shaun met up with another US Vet.
Later in the day the central stone cross lay alone bedecked in wreaths.
For those who have yet to go the neighbouring Museum has a very good exhibition
that has been revamped and considerably upgraded since I was there last – and well-worth a repeat visit.
I would certainly recommend others join Us next year for a fun & thought-provoking trip.
Our Group on the Death Railway.
The Local Railway Gang off to do Some Work!!!
Lunch Time ceremony at the War Cemetery, Here the Digger is Laying His Wreath to His Mates. He also Read the Poem “Mates” that Rhodie referred to, Very Moving. A Humble Ex POW.
Another Group photo of us all about to Sample some New Zealand and Australian Beer Compliments of the ANZAC Governments After the Lunch Ceremony.
We all went down to the River for a Sunset Beer after filling in the Afternoon with some other Activities, Unfortunately the Sun wasn’t out to be seen going down but it Bucketed down with rain instead still a Great Time accompanied by the Distorted Effort of an Extremely Drunk Bagpipe Player attempting to Give a Free Private Performance!!!
Here is a Shot of Our Transport for the Event, Faithfully on the Way Back to Chiang Mai for the Triumph Party which we made arriving at 6pm on the 26th. “Sean of the Dead” Still Trying to work out where we had been let alone where we were going!!!
Some more pix of the “Sundowner” that evening at the Bridge, as the night train headed back to Bangers
Two hardy beer-supping rain-splattered Kiwis
The Bridge over the River Kwae.
Great Trip, Till Next Year!!!