A train crosses over Wang Po viaduct, part of the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi. The railway was constructed during the Second World War when Japanese troops occupied what was then Siam. An estimated 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) were made to work on the railway alongside 180,000 men who were used as forced labour from Asian countries including Thailand, China, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia and Singapore. The conditions were savage and the treatment by the Japanese army was brutal. At least 90,000 labourers died in addition to the 16,000 POWs who lost their lives with many dying from cholera, malaria, dysentery, starvation or exhaustion.
A journey on the Death Railway is an incredible experience. With the river on one side and cliffs on the other side of the track, the railway curves around the Wang Po viaduct which consists of a series of wooden trestles originally built by POWs. The views of the river and the Kanchanaburi countryside are stunning, but it is very poignant to look out of the train window and think about the hardship endured by the men who were forced to construct the railway with a combination of basic tools and brute force while being subjected to the harshest possible conditions. Almost every man who worked on this particular section of track died.