The Mon village, located in a quiet area in the hills of Thailand, has a very interesting culture that is just more than can be observed in a few hours. Before jumping into the Mon village information I want to touch on the part of the trip I found to be exciting the Kwai River Railroad crossing. Why is this exciting? I am a history major, I enjoy studying history not only in books but in the field. I actually enjoy the study of relationships in history. This landmark is one of those items that have a great historical relationship study. Consider, this railroad was built during the Second World War by prisoners of war caught by the Japanese. These soldiers were moved to this area, along with Hellfire Pass which will be mentioned later. What I enjoyed most was learning the relationship of how the prisoners built this bridge which helped connect the Japanese railway to Burma and India. What I intend to study further is the effect this railroad had on the war for Japan and the allies. I did not go to the museum – didn’t know if I would have enough time and was denied the 20 baht entrance fee, which the sign clearly said “student – 20 Baht.” In any case many of us students did not go inside the museum. Although we did not go into the museum we did get a few photos of the train that once ran on the railroad we saw.
The drive was long and boring – the lunch was okay but took too much time. Actually I thought the price was expensive for the portion I received but, I digress. Upon reaching our destination I did not notice much – other than how houses changed from a row house in the suburbs of Bangkok to a more traditional Thai house, built of wood and above the ground. – this was very similar to the resort we stayed at. Upon arrival it was too dark to really make any observations, but in the morning there were plenty.
Right away I noticed very interesting architecture – that is very Thai in style. I thought it odd because we are in a place that does not have thai people. When driving on the roads we see the people walking along but they don’t look poor, they don’t look sad but content with life. Maybe this is a result of being a tourist location and not a town/city/village. This village almost seemed like a living museum, but it was real people. What is most interesting when thinking back about the Mon village, is that while this is a very poor area the people still have modern amenities. Telvision, internet, Computers, Cell phones all modern conveniences found in city life. In addition to these material obsessions, as some may call them, they retain cultural entertainment. Dancing, music, and social gatherings all give a flare that is anything but Thai tradition. But speaking of Thai tradition, in a traditional sense a thai home would have two things, altar to Buddha image and an image of His Majesty the King. Many, if not all, the Mon people had these two highly important items. Buddha was given his own room, usually a box attached over a preexisting window and the Buddha images and other religious items.
The rest of the morning was rather uneventful. I was very unhappy that I was not able to visit the temple even though we were told we were going to go there and see it. So unfortunately I was not able to witness that which I desperately wanted to see. Still a little upset. The afternoon proved to be much more interesting than that of the morning. The music and dance was very cool. I really enjoyed watching the kids play very traditional instruments. It was fascinating. I loved the sound of it, some metallic some wood, and the very interesting alligator looking string instrument. The handwork in sculpting such beautiful pieces is more than my mind could comprehend. I am use to the boring style of the Grand Piano, not a dragon guitar. While there are some things in the style of dance that can be called similar to that of Thai Traditional dance it is still much different. The colorful dress is the same but the way of performing I find to be a little different. The movements are more quick and more of a snap of the wrist. Not as much of a flow like in Thai Dance.
The final leg of the trip was the Hellfire Pass. This, to me anyway, was the most exciting and yet a little disappointing. I am a history guy and so I love history and being in the field of historical events. Perhaps Historical anthropology is more of my area of study. I do like it. I was fascinated by reading the information cards in the museum and then actually seeing the place where the red glares looked so hellish. Coming from a mining town and reading all those horrible accidents in the mines just reminds me of this pass, yet this undertaking was far worse by its cost in life. While I found this to be the most exciting and wished there was time to walk on more of the trail, I was a little disappointed that the most important feature was removed. The removing of the railroad was upsetting because it seems like removing the labor that went into building that railway.
Check this album page 1 and 2 for pics of this trip
http://s736.photobucket.com/albums/xx7/martinab1990/#!cpZZ1QQtppZZ24 I will add more photos later