The Death Railway Museum in Thanbyuzayat
Updated: Sep 11
I heard about the Death Railway in my childhood. Since my father was a Custom officer, he was transferred on duty to many States and Divisions in the country. When my father was on duty in Thanbyuzayet, Mon State, I once had a visit to him. At that time I heard them talking about the Death Railway and I was so frightened and could not say word of going there thinking would be a lot of ghosts as a child. As I grown up and read a lot of books, I came to know that the Death Railway is a very sorrowful historic place instead of a place of ghosts.
Later these days the Death Railway is included in the transportation project for both local and foreign people. When a trip plan to Mon state is written, Thanbyuzayet town is included as one of the interested place to have a visit. In the beginning of 2016, on the day of Independent Day (January 4), the Death Railway Museum was dedicated and opened. Now you can also take a look in that Museum. I believe it is good to construct such Museum systematically and display to local and foreign visitors. The Museum is located at the Whekawa village, Thanbyuzayet Township where Yangon-Myeik highway and Yangon-Yay railway meet.
There are some interesting things! The Museum is a small and two storey building, yet the design is up to date. In front of the Museum there are sculptures of tired railway workers, Japanese soldiers in cruel action ordering the workers. Seeing them is a real terrible sight to me! To enter into the Museum, it costs 800 kyat per every person except if you are over 7 years old. Under 7 years of ages are free to enter. But a foreigner has to pay 5000 kyats per each.
In the Museum, there is a big three dimensional painting. There you can take pictures in various poses you like. Looking into the pictures display in the museum I myself can really feel the horrible experiences which I only heard before. Immediately I could feel I were there as if I was one of the tried and persecuted workers and feel their hardships by myself. What a pity for their lives!
There is also a display of a charcoal railway engine outside the Museum. Also you can take memorable pictures there. This charcoal railway engine is said to be the first charcoal railway engine C_0522 used on the Death Railway. Some also takes pictures at the place where the Dearth Railway starts.
In 1942, Japan had a project to construct a railway covers 175 miles for the purpose of connecting Myanmar and Thailand. The main purpose of constructing this railway was to transport the food supplies and the needs from Thailand to Myanmar. To be able to construct the railway in a short period of time, a collected 120000 prisoners of war were cruelly ordered and made them to do. In the process of constructing the railway, some got seriously sick, some suffered lack of basic foods, some were killed by the wild animals and some under the severe persecutions of Japanese soldiers, lives were given to death. Not only the Burmese local people, but also some foreign people were included in that terrible scenes. And it is said that those foreign prisoners of war were buried in a proper military crematory.
If you are there toward Thanbyuzayet Township, Mon State, I suppose that it is a good place for you to visit and also for you to have historical knowledge. The Death Railway Museum is opened from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. If you happen to be on the way, I suggest that you may take a visit to this place.
Thiha Lu Lin (Thiha, the Traveller)