ANZAC Day 2008

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by Rhodie, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    ANZAC DAY, Kanchanaburi, 2008

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    ANZAC Day in Thailand was officially celebrated with a dawn service at Hell-Fire Pass and then later that morning at Kanchanaburi cemetery.

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    A party was put together by our very own Ambassador - who has led similar trips over the last four years.
    A number of GT Riders joined him in his new luxury van from Chiang Mai.
    Others joined us from Bangkok & Phuket at Kanchanaburi's venerable "Luxury Hotel" which is good value for 700THB a night,
    but also certainly aspirational in name.

    A few beers that night and early to bed and a 0330 reveille before staggering out bleary & for some still beery eyed,
    in the dark, and into Ian's bus - with Dave Early's Laos slide show playing great pix and music.

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    At the Hell-Fire Pass Museum the Australian Government had put together a a well organised reception committee guiding those of us
    who were still unsteady of foot, as well as the Old & the Bold, down the steep concrete path evocatively illuminated by bamboo candles & lanterns.

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    At 0530 in the still of the jungle was broken by the steady crunch of the armed Catafalque Party from the Australian Army slow marching down,
    to take up positions around the stone memorial in Hell Fire Pass.

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    Hymns were sung and sermons read before the Last Post was Played by Royal Thai Army trumpeters
    followed by the skirl of bagpipes from pipers of the British Club in BKK.

    Some bikers from Pattaya had come up on their mostly unplated big-bikes.

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    Though they did have their own special Polo-Shirts displaying their philanthropic charitable purpose.

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    After the service we made our way through the Hell-Fire Pass Cutting with its plaques
    to the heroes like "Weary" Dunlop and regimental memorials.

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    A section of the railway is still in place.

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    What was amazing was the numbers of both bemedelled veterans [a few with Military Crosses]
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    and young Australians.

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    Elsewhere the the jungle appears to be reclaiming what was once its own.
    Back at the top those who had not been around the excellent museum did so,
    whilst others downed tea and coffee laced with the traditional shot of Bundaberg Rum before heading back to Kanchanaburi.

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    Along the way Ian stopped at a section of the railway
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    that is still in use today.

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    Ian & Terry seeing if a Bungy jump would work??
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    Nearby Bomp
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    Later that morning we attended the ceremony at the Kanchanaburi cemetery where some 600+ people came to pay their respects.

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    Here one of the 5 POW survivors attending gave an address including the evocative poem "Mates".

    listen here for a splendid reading of the poem "Mates" from Australian ABC
    http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rural/audio_m1575440.mp3

    Afterwards both Aussie & NZ beers were made available to those attending.

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    Shaun met up with another US Vet.

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    Later in the day the central stone cross lay alone bedecked in wreaths.

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    For those who have yet to go the neighbouring Museum has a very good exhibition
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    that has been revamped and considerably upgraded since I was there last - and well-worth a repeat visit.

    Others have more pix so I hope they will post them.

    A very big thank you to H.E. Ian, for getting the trip together - I would certainly recommend others join him next year for a fun & thought-provoking trip.
     
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  3. tahaan

    tahaan Active Member

    Thanks for posting the pics Rhodie. I wish I'd been able to go. Hopefully, I'll make it next year. Btw, does anyone know if remembrance services are held in Kanchanaburi on November 11?
     
  4. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    I was lucky enough to score 2 days training BKK on April 22/23… of course for this two days training, I arrived in BKK on April 19 and left on April 27, having been home for 5 nights from the previous 9 day trip for 5 days training…

    After exploring many different options to get from BKK to Kan:

    Train, departs Thonburi Station Twice Daily with an extra service on Weekends from Humpalot, I mean Hualampong.

    Bike, finally found a hire place in BKK and they have a Japanese Police CB600 that appealed to my sense of humour,

    Taxi, 2000 baht door to door,

    And Bus, I decided on the bus… Buses depart BKK (Southern) Bus Terminal every 15 minutes all day… 103Baht… I am still not sure if I had the first class bus, as it was a bit of a shitter, but maybe they uses the older busses on these shorter runs and keep the new ones for the longer journeys… it was a blue and white bus, not the orange very slow bus…

    The bus trip was no problem, only takes a few short detours to pick up and set down along the route, and arrived in Kan in a little over 2 hours…

    Not unexpectedly, all of the boys were already in the hotel ‘restaurant’ beer in hand when I arrived…

    Guided by the experienced Cultural Ambassador from New Zealand, with his expert commentary “Look at these AIDS carriers”… we headed out to the Jolly Frog for some dinner and few beers before an early night in preparation for the morning ahead…

    There were lots of guys in town for the occasion, all telling war stories, about actual wars, rather than wars with Issan farmer’s daughters, which is a bit of a change from normal… From our little party of 11, I think that there was only me and a few others who hadn’t served in the armed forces, obviously The Ambassador had dedicated his life to changing the world through diplomatic endeavours…

    It was a 3:30 wake up for a pre 4am departure for much of the group… In Australia, the dawn service on ANZAC day is a pretty special occasion, and a way to really remember our courageous for fathers… but it was something special to be there where some of these men were so many years ago…

    I noticed the bikes from Pattaya in the carpark, and the different provinces on the plates, only seeing their ‘tour shirts’ later… those guys from Pattaya certainly are a classy bunch...

    We adjourned for a short break and then reassembled for an assault on the ceremony in the War Cemetery… curiously for me; most of the headstones were actually for Dutch soldiers, who had formed a brigade in a short lived attempt to defend their homes in the Dutch Indies…

    A few facts to linger on… of the 120,000 PoW from many nations, 12,000 died during the construction of the Thai – Burma Railway, of the 200,000 Asian forced labourers, 100,000 died…

    The service was very emotional for me, having had both my grandfather serve in WWII and seen the effects that it had on both of their lives… I don’t know if it was the exhaustion from 18 days living it large in BKK (I had only been home to normality for 5 days in 3 weeks), the early start, or the enourmity of what had occured, but all of these emotions came flooding over me, and I was almost overwhelmed… I had to walk away and take a few long breaths to pull myself together half way through… the same feelings came over me the next morning when I went for a walk around the cemetery by myself to read the headstones and thank these brave men…

    I am still conflicted by the couple of old diggers who had turned up with girls, in ridiculously short skirts, and equally ridiculously high heels (in a lawn cemetery), girls, obviously more frequently found in the company of chrome poles and rooms rented by the hour… I mean, these guys fought and bled for my freedom, should they not have the freedom to do what they want in Thailand??? But then again, is taking these girls to a service to remember the fallen really the right thing to do??? I guess no one knows the real nature of their relationship, so it isn’t up to me to make judgment…

    From there it was time for a few beers and a feed, and then a few more beers… I think that Shaun and I were the last to stumble home sometime not long after midnight… most of that time was spent in the usual manner… lighthearted (and some not so lighthearted) ribbing each other about their individual and national personalities… and more often then not question their sexuality…

    The trip home was similarly uneventful, riding home in the luxury of Rhodie’s Fortuner… but at the same time enjoyable, just blokes, mates, sitting around, talking shit… the same as our forefathers probably did on those long sea journeys to foreign lands, but with somewhat less noble purposes…

    After a quick drop and roll from the leather of the Fortuner to the vinyl seat of a moto taxi on Sukhumwit Soi 3, it was back to BKK for one last night of stupidity before I headed home to normal, adult Daewoo life…

    Thanks H.E. Ian for your organization and for extending the invite to me, and Rhodie for helping me get organized and getting me back to BKK… Thanks to all the guys for your company and conversations… and most of all… thanks to all the diggers… Lest We Forget…

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  5. Dougal

    Dougal Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the report and pictures.

    I've been down to all those places, normally on my own and it really does give you pause for thought.

    I will make a serious effort to join you guys next year. Thanks again.
     
  6. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Fantastic Report and Photos Rhodie as usual :D And Very Moving Words Daewoo. I agree with you about the Leaches, Looked a bit Stupid all the Medals on One Side and a Blood Sucker Hanging off their Arm on the other :roll: They Earned the Right to Choose though i myself would be to embarrassed to appear in Public with Such Horrors :oops: , just a Pity the Aids Carriers Never Had the Brains or Respect to Dress Like a Human Being. Great Trip thanks to All who turned up. I will try to get the Group Photo from Terry and Post that. Till Next Year Guys. Lest We Forget!!!
     
  7. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Very good meeting up with you in CM recently.
    A service is held within the grounds of the British Embassy.
    I believe they have relocated the cenotaph within what is left of the Embassy grounds having sold most of it off to Central Department Stores.

    You can see from this RBL member Bert's pages pictures from last year's service
    http://www.tropicalberts.com/

    and his report of the ANZAC Day Parade
    http://www.tropicalberts.com/anz.htm
     
  8. tahaan

    tahaan Active Member

    Rhodie, many thanks for the info and links. I didn't know RBL had a branch in Thailand. I'll have to make contact. I'd like to attend a service on 11 Nov ...old habits and all that.

    Btw, selling off the embassy grounds must've been a real coup for the bean counters. it makes me sooo proud to be British. :(

    I'm off to catch a plane right now but I hope we can meet up again when I get back to los.
     
  9. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Hello Tahaan,
    I am Pretty Sure the November 11th event is the Sound and Light Festival put on every Year. I went to it once in about 94 or so, Really Good!!! Best to Book a Table at the Restaurant by the Bridge as this is the Best Place to Watch as they have Speakers hidden all along the River and a False section of Bridge attached under the Real one. They Reenact the Bombing Raid on the Bridge so you hear the Planes Coming up the River, Bombs Dropping, See Explosions everywhere then on the Bridge and it Collapses. Pretty Well done actually. Also have a Local Market, Beer Gardens etc etc. Good Fun Occasion and a Bit more for all tourists compared to ANZAC DAY which is really only seen by those who know it is on!!! All the Best.
     
  10. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    H.E. Bungy,

    I believe you are talking about the river in Kanchanaburi, not the river in Chaing Mai, right... Just needed to clarify as the previous posts were talking about CM, and those limeys aren't as quick as the colonials from down under... right bro???

    Cheers eh,
    Daewoo
     
  11. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Just a Few Photos of the Event that Brian gave me seen as i never had a Camera of my Own :oops: .
    "I hear that Whistle Blowing"
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    Our Group on the Death Railway.
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    The Local Railway Gang off to do Some Work :wink:
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    Lunch Time ceremony at the War Cemetery, Here the Digger is Laying His Wreath to His Mates :cry: He also Read the Poem "Mates" that Rhodie referred to, Very Moving. A Humble Ex POW.
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    Another Group photo of us all about to Sample some New Zealand and Australian Beer Compliments of the ANZAC Governments :D After the Lunch Ceremony.
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    We all went down to the River for a Sunset Beer after filling in the Afternoon with some other Activities :wink: Unfortunately the Sun wasn't out to be seen going down but it Bucketed down with rain instead still a Great Time accompanied by the Distorted Effort of an Extremely Drunk Bagpipe Player attempting to Give a Free Private Performance!!!
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    Here is a Shot of Our Transport for the Event, Faithfully on the Way Back to Chiang Mai for the Triumph Party which we made arriving at 6pm on the 26th. "Sean of the Dead" Still Trying to work out where we had been let alone where we were going!!!
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    Great Trip, Till Next Year!!! 8)
     
  12. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Great pix from Brian courtesy of Your Excellency!

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    Lynn McFadden an US Vet who also joined us, has found time to put a great slide show together
    culminating in a video of the March Off to the Pipers from cemetery parade:

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    click to play

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    Some more pix of the "Sundowner" that evening at the Bridge, as the night train headed back to Bangers

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    Two hardy beer-supping rain-splattered Kiwis

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    The Bridge over the River Kwae
     

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