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Film, Travel

Bridge on the River Kwai

So we were shooting for several days in a row in Ban Pong, so the production put us up in Kanchanaburi, which happens to be about a mile from *the* bridge on the River Kwai. We were shooting days, so the only opportunity to see the bridge was at night, and I couldn’t leave without seeing it.

So last night I ask at reception how to get to the bridge. They say to take a taxi, it will cost approximately 400 Baht for a round trip (a ripoff, no cab ride should cost more than 100 Baht). It’s only about a mile away, how do I go about walking there, I ask. No, she says insistently, “Soldat, Soldat”. Soldiers? Yes, she says. Well then, call me a cab.

After about a 15 minute wait, a guy arrives in a pickup truck, i.e. the “taxi”. Ah, the smell of adventure and danger already. Danger is my middle name, so I get in. Once we establish that I am a tourist, he asks, “You like pretty lady? I get you pretty lady?” I guess we’re not that far away from Bangkok. No thanks, just the bridge tonight.

We arrive at the bridge, and the only other tourists are the couple getting into the pickup truck as I am leaving. There are a few local kids playing there, and a few locals on the bridge itself, but not far onto it. The angular trusses are where it was repaired.

There is no pedestrian pathway, only a single set of rails. Between the rails is the only place to walk to cross it, and there are safety platforms every 30 feet or so in case a train comes along.

The entire bridge is illuminated by a single light at the close end. This is fairly bright at the close end, but practically pitch black at the far end. Picture taken from one of the safety platforms. Note the swift current below.

This is close to the far end (I couldn’t hold the camera still enough for the very long exposure at the very far side). This may look bright enough to see, but the long exposure makes things look brighter than they actually are. I could see my feet, but just blackness below. I was try trying to keep my feet between the rails where I knew there was footing.

Nevertheless, I survived the walk back, and the guy in the pickup had even returned as instructed and was waiting for me. And thus concludes my adventure on the River Kwai.

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