28 DAYS: ADVENTURES FOR THE SOUL.
Friends and followers,
Today we took a long drive out to Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand, where we visited the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum.
The Thailand-Burma Railway isn’t just any railway: its significance stems from World War II. It was built in 1942 by the Imperial Japanese Army and ran from Nong Pladuk in Thailand to Thanbuyuzayat in Burma. It’s an interactive centre dedicated to presenting the true story of the Thailand-Burma Railway.
The railway was built to give Japan a stronghold over the pacific countries and to transport soldiers between Thailand and Burma. One of the most shocking facts about this”railway of death” is that it was contracted to be constructed over a five-year period but was completed after only one year!
Many people from various countries including Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Burma and the Netherlands, were recruited by force, by the Japanese soldiers.
The Japanese Imperial Army promised these labourers prosperous living conditions, big hospitals, mosquito nets, moderate labour. Instead, the labourers suffered harsh living conditions. As they were transported to the camps, 28 laborers were shoved into each tiny train cabin for four days and four nights. They ate less than 2000 calories of food daily, slept without mosquito nets and went untreated when they contracted cholera!
Unfortunately, the railway was bombed and demolished only 18 months after completion! Even worse, over 100,000 men died in this year alone.
Across the street from the museum is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery dedicated to the passed laborers of the railway. A very sad experience, but invaluable nonetheless. I visited the memorial of the hundreds of young men and simply thanked their spirits.
Why was today significant for me? Because I realized how completely unaware I was of Thailand’s hardship.
The other day I met a woman in Saigon, Vietnam, who told me that she didn’t want go to any of the Vietnamese war museums, memorials or centers because she “just doesn’t like anything to do with war”.
Although I don’t like anything to do with war either, in that moment I realized how astonishingly important it is to be open to the truth of other countries, cultures and people. Never would I have had the rich, meaningful experiences on my journey if it hadn’t been for the good and bad that I sought to discover about these places. The yin and the yang.
As millennials, we reject history, old stories, disadvantageous truths. I cannot emphasize enough how unhealthy it is. We need to accept that whether we like or dislike war or gruesome history tales, we should deliberately accept and acknowledge it and most of all, go out and experience it. There’s nothing you can lose.
We think of Thailand as this beautiful tourist destination associated with tropical flowers, exotic fruits, elephants, bikinis and island hopping. Yes, it is. So am I, too, associated with positivity and light and sunflowers and smiles. But Thailand (as well as all other nations) is also smeared in ruins and devastation. Just as I, and you, have also come from darkness and desolation.
YOU ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS: THE PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR BRIGHT LIGHT AND YOUR SUFFERING.