thailand Tag

Khao Luang Cave, Phetchaburi, Thailand, caves in Thailand

Beam me up, Buddha

Khao Luang Cave, Phetchaburi, Thailand There’s a sudden commotion in the cave. A monkey has snuck in and is scurrying across the rock floor to the corner where the large Buddha sits. The monkey makes a grab at a bit of food that’s been left on the altar as an offering. Before it can make off with the loot, a woman nearby spots the furry thief and throws a water bottle at it. “Ai ai ai ai,” accompanies the lob as the woman screams. The monkey drops the food and races from the cave toward the light coming down the staircase. The monkeys are one of the hazards of visiting the Khao Luang Cave in the Thai city of Phetchaburi. As you approach the entrance – up a hill, across a carpark, along a path, and down some stairs – hundreds of monkeys watch you expectantly. Visitors are one of the best...

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22 May
burma thailand railway, death railway, bridge over the river kwai, hellfire pass, kanchanaburi

All aboard the Death Railway

The Bridge on the River Kwai, ThailandIt’s serene down on the River Kwai today. Even with the large amount of tourists, the air is still and things are quiet. The bridge over the river looks old but in good shape. It’s like a used movie set which has been left behind after production and recycled by the local residents.Of course, the bridge is, in some ways, a star of the movies. The 1957 film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ made it famous… even though it was shot at a different bridge at a small town in Sri Lanka. But it has become the icon for the ill-fated Thailand-Burma Railway and the horrors associated with that scene of World War II.The film – and the book it was based on it – are fictional but use facts for the historical setting. Although conditions were much worse in reality than in...

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25 January
hellfire pass, thailand burma railway, near kanchanaburi, death railway, war memorial (9)

Prisoners in the fires of hell

Hellfire Pass Memorial and Museum, Thailand It's always quite emotional to be confronted with the tragedies of your own country while travelling overseas. But the nature of war means the losses of our countrymen are often spread across the globe. One such place for us Australians is Hellfire Pass, the iconic stretch of the ill-fated Thailand-Burma Railway. It's with a bit of shame that I admit I previously knew very little about it. So little, in fact, that I actually got things the wrong way around when trying to explain it to someone several weeks ago. It's lucky we travel to learn, because on this topic I clearly had a lot I needed to learn. It is also a bit of a shame that this story does not feature more prominently in the Australian narrative of war. More than 16,000 prisoners of war – the majority Australian, British and Dutch – died here. But,...

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24 January
bang pa-in palace, thailand, royal summer palace, bang pa-in

The Royal Summer Palace of Thailand

Bang Pa-in Palace, Thailand It would be nice to have a Thai summer palace you could head to when the days got hot, wouldn’t it? You know, you could jump on a royal barge, float down the river to your tranquil holiday home and then spend the days walking around the compound, reading by the lake and entertaining guests from across the country. Well, it does sound nice. Unless you’re Queen Sunanda Kumariratana and Princess Karnabhirn Bejraratana who died on their way there! The year was 1880 and on the way to the Summer Palace at Bang Pa-in their raft capsized. Back then it was punishable by death to touch a member of the royal family so everyone was scared to help them. As it turned out, a member of staff actually instructed everybody to not touch them… and so the queen and the princess sunk to the bottom of the river in...

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23 January