Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Myanmar - Death Railway at Than Byuzayat

Many people have heard of the Death Railway, built by Prisoners of War during the Japanese occupation during World War 2. And many people know of the railway at Kanchanburi and may even have ridden along this stretch of the line. But few people know that the line extended about 110 km into Burma (Myanmar) and went as far north as the Mon state, stopping at Than Byuzayat, which is 65 km south of Moulmein (Mawlamyine).

Whereas Thailand promotes the Death Railway as a historical tourist attraction, Burma doesn't. In fact few tourists go that far south as it is on the edge of the "off limits" area. Nothing has been done to preserve the site.

A locked gate stands isolated and you can just walk around it.

An old stream locomotive stands forlornly on the rail tracks. Unfortunately the brass name plates have disappeared so there is no indication of the name of the loco, but many of its parts were made in England - one section was made by Stone Engineers of London.

Stone engineers, London

 The back wheels of the loco have been set in concrete.

There are a couple of old models of people, presumably prisoners, which are decaying. As you look down the tracks, after a few meters they disappear into the undergrowth and you can see that the place is ignored completely.

Such a pity after all the terrible hardships and suffering that went into constructing this railway. Luckily the loco hasn't been vandalised for scrap metal.
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Myanmar - Commonwealth War Cemetery Than Byuzayat

Just a few km from the abandoned dead of the Death Railway at Than Byuzayat, stands an immaculate war cemetery for those who died 1939-1945. It was built and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Maidenhead, England.

Although I don't know of anyone who was involved with the construction of the Death Railway or the terrible days of WW2, I found it very moving walking around. The Australian section is on the left, then the British area with Malaya, Singapore and India etc, and Dutch graves are on the right. There’s one row behind the British for the Indian Muslims etc. Although America is mentioned on the cross at the entrance, apparently the remains have been repatriated and buried in the US.


The cemetery is very well kept and is similiar to the one in Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia, but there are no large trees here, only frangipani.

It was interesting to see the differences on the gravestones. Many of the British graves had crosses and full regiment and most had an epitaph from family or friends -

The Dutch ones only show a brief description of regiment or rank -

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Friday, February 13, 2009

Myanmar - transport & vehicles

My first trip to Myanmar was in 1986 and I have fond memories of seeing ancient British cars such as old Austins still being used, left over from colonial days. So on my most recent trip in Jan 2009 I was hoping these old cars would still be around, but sadly they seem to have disappeared. Only saw one the whole trip. It's hardly surprising, as I wouldn't expect them to last another 20 years when they were already old in 1986! However there are plenty of other old cars on the roads, such as old Mazdas and Russian jeeps etc.
back to back
using phone whilst riding

illegal photo of bridge!

local passing by

going to market?

loading up

old Mazda taxis

taxis and bicycles

illegal shot of petrol station

Myanmar drives on the right side of the road. But 95% of the vehicles I saw are right hand drive, presumably from Thailand. This makes it hard for the driver to overtake.

a left hand drive

typical open engine compartment

ferry Hpa An to Mawlamyine

Boats at Hpa An

lottery ticket seller

like a songthaew

smart jeep

someone with money

ox cart

bus Mawlamyine
keeping cool

bus in Mawlamyine

have elephant will travel

wedding ceremony
Yangon was the only place where I really saw lots of new cars and 4WDs etc. These next photos are all in Yangon -

smart antique!


old Merc at The Strand
This is our van -

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission