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Sam O Ting United States of ...
This tour was outstanding. The coordination by the different entities to get us from our hotel to the different locations and venues and back was remarkably efficient and timely. Both guides that took us into Kanchanaburi from Bangkok were well versed in history and spoke very good English, which really helped us understand all the information they provided.
I booked this tour because of the visit to the War Cemeterys allied graves, and the Thailand-Burma Railway Center and the bridge across the River Kwai.
My father was a prisoner of war POW of the Japanese Imperial Army from 1942 to 1945 and he worked on the railroad that led to the bridge. While growing up, he never really talked much about his experience in the POW camps, but from the few stories he did tell, and from general World War II history, I knew that all those prisoners suffered major hardships.
The cemetery was impressive and awoke strong emotions while walking among the thousands of gravestones. The Railway Center museum depicted numerous images and a stage model of the rail cars the prisoners were packed into to be transported to the POW camps, as well as numerous photographs and written texts which told the story of the hard labor the POWs were subjected to to build the railroad in less than 18 months, when the initial estimates to complete the 450 km rail line was 6 years.
One fortunate event was the ability to do a record search of the POWs kept in captivity during the years 1942 -1945. I submitted my father's name to the records clerk at the museum, and after a short computerized search, they found my father's name and printed me a copy of his record. This alone made the trip so worthwhile.
After the visit to the cemetery and Rail Way Center Museum we were transported to the actual bridge over the River Kwai. I went on a long tail boat on the actual river my wife stayed on the bus, and we met again at the bridge.
From the bridge we were taken by long tail boat to our floating hotel where the rest of the two days activities took place. We loved the simplicity of the floating hotel, the food, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. We took an elephant ride, which is something that needs to be done when in Thailand. The Mon village was interesting, and the dance performance was different, but very pleasant.
The visit to hellfire pass showed the ingenuity, perseverance, and suffering the POWs must have undergone to create this huge gorge out of granite with hand tools. It's indescribable what these allied POWs went through to create this pathway through the rock.
We enjoyed the train ride on the death railway, realizing that the tracks my dad helped build are still in use today.
All in all, please read some of the other reviews written here. I didn't want to repeat what others experienced. But this two day tour MADE our stay in Thailand. It was beyond excellent and a wonderful experience, and a great value for the price we paid. This is a must take tour, especially if you have or know of someone who worked on this railroad as a Prisoner of War.
This was a really great activity! We learned a lot and had a great time on the river Kwai. We learned a lot and were able to have some downtime on the jungle rafts while also learning about the Mon tribe. This is a great tour for people wanting to learn more about some of the history of the area.
All in all this was an interesting trip with Asian Trails. Our trip was confirmed the night before at our hotel. The included meals were good and lots of food. The Jungle Raft hotel was a good experience. The trip would have been 5 stars except for the guide we had for the first morning and 2nd afternoon by the name of Susan. Her way of speaking English and use of words was very hard to understand and she had the annoying habit of referring to herself in the third person as Susan. She never used Me. The guide we had for the first afternoon and 2nd morning was excellent. He took us to the hotel and the mon village. Another disappointment was that We were unable to see Hellfire Pass. Not the fault of the tour company as it was closed for the holiday and company didn't know at time of our reservation and did notify us in advance by email and we didn't have availability to change the date. I mention Hellfire Pass because I feel the substitute site was really not comparable. It was ok.
The River Kwai and bridge were great to see and the museum is excellent too. Loved the visit through the Mon Village and the information provided by the guide was excellent as we love history and learning about different cultures. The Hotel without electricity was a unique experience that I would not have missed but I had my Kindle fire charged up, my mp3 charged up and downloaded songs and movies to watch. We upgraded the Death Railway train ride and really enjoyed it. Note that there are lots of rides in the long tailed boats on this tour and it is hard to get into and out of them. After two times I was very sore in my legs and knees. I am overweight and 63 years old. If you are in great shape no problems. There is lots of walking uphill and quite a few steps. !
We did this tour in Nov and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in WWII history. We were picked up from our hotel at the arranged time and taken to a central point for our bus of the day. After a bit of a drive were taken to the Bridge over the River Kwai by long boat and then proceeded to the Death Railway Museum and one of the many cemeteries. Sam, our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about the history and provided an excellent commentary. We were then taken to another long boat where we were taken to our overnight accommodation. The accommodation was very comfortable and the food provided of good quality, however it must be pointed out that there is no power at this site, so it will be hot and humid. A quick swim in the river helped, but it was still very hot and humid. Bligh was our guide and he attended to all our needs as there was only 4 people in our group. His passion for the WWII history was evident and his knowledge of the history would be much better than most Australians of a similar age. The next day we were taken to the Hellfire Pass and Museum before being delivered back to our bus for the return journey to Bangkok via the Death Railway. The whole experience was well worth the discomfort of the heat and I would recommend an overnight stay as it would have otherwise been a very long day. The day tour also does not visit Hellfire Pass..
The only problem we had was that our return bus broke down, but the tour guide managed to organise suitable alternative transport in record time and even though our bus was not available, the tour went on regardless without a hitch and without delay. Well done.
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