Thousands of tourists flock to Kanchanaburi in Thailand every week to visit the Bridge on the River Kwai, the War Memorial Cemetery, museums, and the Tiger Temple nearby, but I was always keen to find the exact spot where the Death Railway was started, which was constructed by the Japanese who used forced POW labor to build it.
A search on the Internet revealed conflicting information. Some information said that it started in Myanmar while others state that it commenced in Thailand. It now appears that both views are correct, and the railway track was constructed from two opposite ends in both these countries.
During this trip to Yangon, I was pleased that my travel agent shared my views about creating interesting tours in Myanmar to places that are off the usual tourist beaten path. They have developed some interesting and unusual tours that include trekking, mountaineering, bicycle tours, adventure tours, family tours, honeymoon tours, to name a few, and I was most impressed with the initiative shown by them.
I told them of my desire to visit the exact spot where this Death Railway began in Myanmar, so they mapped out a special tour for World War II buffs like myself that took in beautiful sightseeing places like Kalaw, Inle Lake, and the Pindiya Caves. After that, I headed to Mawlomyne which is the nearest town to Thanbyuzayat where the Death Railway commenced.
Compared to Kanchanaburi, Thanbyuzayat is very deserted, but I am sure things will pick up once more people become aware of its historical significance. For now, there are just two main attractions there – the War Memorial, which is maintained in pristine condition, and the site where the Death Railway commenced, which has one of the original steam locomotives that the Japanese army used on these tracks.
I informed the authorities about the tremendous economic boost that this region could enjoy if they developed tourism for it along the lines of their Thai counterparts, and am pleased to say that they have now developed some interesting plans for that area.