Tuesday, August 29, 2006

To the River Kwai

At the train station. Romance of the departing express. “The onlookers go rigid as the train goes by …” (Kafka). Copying down the sights – hawkers, stalls, our luxurious sleepers.
“Got some beers,” says Jeff as he passes on the platform, gnawing a chocolate bar.

The teletext spells out a perpetual stream of complex instructions:
20 baht charge for ordinary fan seat 50 baht for Air-Con seat or berth (seeper) tictek Allowed twice only Refund of fare Have to apply for the refund more than 3 days from the date of travel deduct 20% and not more than 1 hour from the train departure time deduct 50%
Drunken orgy in the train. On my second Singha beer now (donated by Jeff).
Amazing misty Northern Thailand landscape streaming past.

At the War Grave cemetery in Kanchanaburi. Almost unbearable to read the inscriptions. So much emotion there. One in Gaelic. Some from the Bible – others little verses. Immaculately maintained.
The most interesting thing was the display of pictures of old POWs revisiting the camp. The colour prints have sun-faded to virtual invisibility, like ghost photographs. Only the oil paintings survive.

Our luggage was taken to the hotel by some very spirited Samlar [=rickshaw] drivers, who then bicycled us around town in a little tour.
“Otherwise the ancient art may die,” says Lien.

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