Rebuilding the Death Railway from Myanmar to Kanchanburi | Bangkok Post: learning

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Tourism: Death Railway to Kanchanaburi

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To attract tourists, Myanmar plans to rebuild & reconnect to Thailand, famous railway build by prisoners of war during World War II. 

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TOURISM

Myanmar to revive 'Death Railway'

25 Apr 2013
AFP

Visitors look at a tourist train as it crosses a railway bridge over the river Kwai in Thailand, on April 24, 2013 (AFP/File, Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Thousands of prisoners of war who died building Japan's "Death Railway" are buried in a cemetery in southeast Myanmar.

The Myanmar government is now considering rebuilding a stretch of this notorious World War II  railway track to attract tourists and help develop border areas...

...Many epitaphs on gravestones at the cemetery... are a heart wrenching testament of how bewilderingly distant the country then called Burma was for the families of those killed.

"We were not there to clasp your hand, you passed away without a last good-bye," reads the epitaph for 26-year-old Lance Serjeant Harry Dawes, of the Loyal Regiment, who died in September 1943.

Exhaustion, starvation, disease and torture were the chief causes of fatalities among those impelled by the invading Japanese to gouge a rail route through dense jungle and solid rock between October 1942 and December 1943.

Tourists cross a bridge over the river Kwai, in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand, on April 24, 2013 (AFP/File, Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

About 13,000 prisoners of war -- many captured in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and what was then the Dutch East Indies -- died during construction, along with up to 100,000 civilians, mostly forced labour from the region.

Robert Goodwin, an Australian veteran who worked on the infamous "Hellfire Pass" cutting on the Thai side of the border, said the men's relentless toil involved hacking through rock almost completely by hand.

Every day that we worked, if anyone seemed to be slowing up they'd be belted with not just hands or pickaxes but with wire whips, with anything they could lay their hands on. The Japanese were cruel by anybody's standards

On the Thai side, hordes of foreign visitors flock to see the track and bridge made famous by the film "The Bridge Over the River Kwai", and to ride on a stretch of the rail line still in operation.

The town of Kanchanaburi, a popular destination about A three hours drive from the capital Bangkok, generated tourism revenue of over 2.4 billion baht ($84 million) last year, according to Thai officials.

That fact is not lost on Myanmar authorities keen to encourage development in the southeast of their country -- a region emerging from isolation after years of civil war.

Ceasefire deals were reached last year between local ethnic Karen and Mon rebels under a new quasi-civilian government which took power two years ago after decades of harsh military rule ended.

Surveys have now begun to trace the route from Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar to Three Pagodas Pass at the Thai border...

If Myanmar can connect the railway track to the Thai side, it will help tourism develop... 

...There are, however, doubts about the feasibility of restoring the railway

...a hydropower dam on the Thai side blocks the original route, according to Rod Beattie, a historian who runs Kanchanaburi's Thailand-Burma Railway Centre.

The 420 kilometre (260 mile) line linking the Thai and Myanmar railway systems was aimed at resupplying the Japanese army as it fought British colonial forces and their allies.

It fell into disuse after the war ended in 1945 and much of the track was reclaimed by the jungle.

(Source: Bangkok Post, TOURISM, Myanmar to revive 'Death Railway', 25 Apr 2013, AFP, link


Tourism & History Vocabulary

Death Railway - the famous railway built from Thailand to Burma by the Japanese with prisoners war during World War II (See Wikipedia)

prisoners of war
- people on the other side caught during a war (See Wikipedia)

buried - covered completely by something, in this case, soil ฝัง
cemetery - the area of ground where dead people are buried or their bodies or ashes are kept สุสาน
buried in a cemetery

Thousands of prisoners of war who died building Japan's "Death Railway" are buried in a cemetery in southeast Myanmar.

abandoned - left by someone and no longer used ที่ถูกละทิ้ง ถูกปล่อยทิ้งไว้
the abandoned death railway

revive - to come or bring something back to life, health, existence, or use; get activity started once again after stopping ฟื้นชีพ ทำให้ฟื้นชีพ ชุบชีวิต
revive the abandoned death railway

looks to... -
is planning to ....
myanmar looks to revive abandoned death railway


stretch - 1. a continuous area of land or water; 2. to cause something to reach, often as far as possible, in a particular direction ขยายออก, ยืดออก
track - 1. a railway track that trains move along; 2. a mark or line of marks showing the direction that something has moved ร่องรอย
a stretch of railway track

notorious - famous in a bad sort of way ซึ่งมีชื่อเสียงในทางที่ไม่ดี ที่มีชื่อฉาวโฉ
a stretch of the notorious World War II track

The Myanmar government is now considering rebuilding a stretch of the notorious World War II track to attract tourists and help develop border areas...

attract - to cause someone to be interested in something ดึงดูดความสนใจ
attract tourists 

border - the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
border areas

epitaph - words to remember a dead person by, carved into the stone of a gravestone คำจารึกบนหลุมฝังศพ
gravestone -
the stone put in the ground where a person is buried หินสลักชื่อผู้ตายหน้าหลุมฝังศพ
epitaphs on gravestones at the cemetery

heart wrenching - makes your very sad (twists your heart, it is so sad)
testament - proof ข้อพิสูจน์ชัดแจ้ง
a heart wrenching testament of

bewilder -
makes you confused and not able to understand งุนงง, สับสน
bewilderingly distant
how bewilderingly distant the country then called Burma was for the families of those killed

...Many epitaphs on gravestones at the cemetery... are a heart wrenching testament of how bewilderingly distant the country then called Burma was for the families of those killed.

"We were not there to clasp your hand, you passed away without a last good-bye," reads the epitaph for 26-year-old Lance Serjeant Harry Dawes, of the Loyal Regiment, who died in September 1943.

exhaustion - being very tired
starvation
- not eating food for a long time (so you will die, if you do not eat)

torture
- to cause great physical or mental pain to someone ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
fatalities - people who died

route - the way that planes, buses, trains, or ships travel regularly เส้นทางของรถ เรือ เครื่องบิน,etc.
rail route

dense
- very thick
dense jungle - very thick jungle (many trees, difficult to pass through)

solid - very hard
solid rock

impelled - forced to do something
gouge -
cut out

impelled to gouge a rail route through dense jungle and solid rock

Exhaustion, starvation, disease and torture were the chief causes of fatalities among those impelled by the invading Japanese to gouge a rail route through dense jungle and solid rock between October 1942 and December 1943.

construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
civilians - people who do not belong to the armed forces or the police พลเรือน
forced labour - prisoners who are forced to work (have no choice)

About 13,000 prisoners of war -- many captured in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and what was then the Dutch East Indies -- died during construction, along with up to 100,000 civilians, mostly forced labour from the region.

veteran - a former soldier; a person who has a lot of experience in an activity (สส.)หน้าเก่า, (สส.)หลายสมัย, ผู้อาวุโส, ทหารผ่านศึก
the infamous "Hellfire Pass"
the men's relentless toil
hacking through rock almost completely by hand

Robert Goodwin, an Australian veteran who worked on the infamous "Hellfire Pass" cutting on the Thai side of the border, said the men's relentless toil involved hacking through rock almost completely by hand.

cruel - deliberately causing pain to other people or animals ป่าเถื่อน โหดร้าย
standards - a rule for behaving which should be obeyed มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ
cruel by anybody's standards

Every day that we worked, if anyone seemed to be slowing up they'd be belted with not just hands or pickaxes but with wire whips, with anything they could lay their hands on. The Japanese were cruel by anybody's standards

hordes - larges numbers of people
flock - when a large number of people go to a place because it is interesting or pleasant   แห่กันไป a group of birds, sheep or goats ฝูงนก
hordes of foreign visitors flock to see the track and bridge

On the Thai side, hordes of foreign visitors flock to see the track and bridge made famous by the film "The Bridge Over the River Kwai", and to ride on a stretch of the line still in operation.

destination - the place where someone or something is going จุดหมายปลายทาง ปลายทาง
a popular destination

revenue - income from taxes or business activities รายได้
tourism revenue

generated - created
generated tourism revenue of over 2.4 billion baht ($84 million)

The town of Kanchanaburi, a popular destination about A three hours drive from the capital Bangkok, generated tourism revenue of over 2.4 billion baht ($84 million) last year, according to Thai officials.

authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
Myanmar authorities

keen - very interested, eager or wanting (to do) something very much สนใจ, ใจจดใจจ่อ สนใจอย่างยิ่ง
keen to encourage development in the southeast of their country

isolation - not being with others, being alone, being by yourself ความโดดเดี่ยว,
emerging from isolation - ending isolation (starting to interact and be friends with others)

civil war -  สงครามกลางเมือง
a region emerging from isolation after years of civil war.

That fact is not lost on Myanmar authorities keen to encourage development in the southeast of their country -- a region emerging from isolation after years of civil war.

encourage
- to make someone more likely to do something, or to make something more likely to happen; make people interested in and excited about doing an activity ปลุกใจ
encourage development

ceasefire - an agreement to stop a war and fighting ซีส'ไฟเออร์, การหยุดนิ่ง, การหยุดรบ
ceasefire deals

local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
rebels - people who try to remove a government or leader by force ผู้ก่อกบฏ
local ethnic Karen and Mon rebels

quasi -
looks the same as, similar to ดูเหมือน
civilian - of someone who does not belong to the armed forces or the police พลเรือน
quasi-civilian
quasi-civilian government

harsh - strict, unkind and often unfair อย่างรุนแรง
harsh military rule

decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
decades of harsh military rule

Ceasefire deals were reached last year between local ethnic Karen and Mon rebels under a new quasi-civilian government which took power two years ago after decades of harsh military rule ended.

trace the route
- to follow the same route or path that someone else used before ตามรอย ตามทาง

survey -
a land survey, measuring the land to make a map ทำแผนที่, รังวัดปักเขต

Surveys
have now begun to trace the route from Thanbyuzayat to Three Pagodas Pass at the Thai border...

doubts
- things that you think might not be true, uncertainties; question whether something is really true; not feel certain about something
feasibility - whether something can or cannot be done ความเป็นไปได้

restore - to make something as it was before, in the past สร้างใหม่, ซ่อม, ซ่อมแซม,  ฟื้นฟู
restoring the railway

...There are, however, doubts about the feasibility of restoring the railway

hydropower - using the fast moving water in rivers to generate electricity (See Wikipedia) hydroelectricity
hydropower dam

original - the first way something was, the way it was before ซึ่งเป็นแบบฉบับ, ซึ่งเป็นต้นฉบับ, ที่เป็นอันแรก
original route

block - stop and prevent something from passing a place, obstruct กีดขวาง, หยุด
blocks the original route

...a hydropower dam on the Thai side blocks the original route, according to Rod Beattie, a historian who runs Kanchanaburi's Thailand-Burma Railway Centre.

allies
- countries which work together, such as fighting a war together ประเทศพันธมิตร ชาติพันธมิตร  กลุ่มผู้สนับสนุน
British colonial forces and their allies

The 420 kilometre (260 mile) line linking the Thai and Myanmar railway systems was aimed at resupplying the Japanese army as it fought British colonial forces and their allies.

reclaim - to get back something
reclaimed by the jungle - meaning: it was not used for a long time so the jungle grew over it

fell into disuse - people stopped using it, abandoned it

It fell into disuse after the war ended in 1945 and much of the track was reclaimed by the jungle.

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