Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hellfire Pass Hike

Early morning. Foggy and cool at the Hintok River Camp. We eat breakfast, local eggs with tangerine orange yolks. The Real Deal for yummy. We are bundled up for our day, layers, hats, walking sticks. At 7:30 am we begin a 1 1/2 hour hike in Hellfire Pass, high above the River Kwai with views across into Burma. Here POWs from several countries, along with Asian slave labor, were forced to use hand tools to cut through a rocky canyon and build a 415 kilometer rail line to bring supplies to the Japanese through Burma. Here tens of thousands died in the effort, in abominable conditions.

Today this beautiful trail goes through pristine bamboo forests, with countless stairs up and down. The broken rock surface of the trail adds to the emotional impact, since this was made by the laborers who crushed rock cliffs with their hand tools.

We walked alone in the woods this morning, with only the birds and the trees accompanying us as we meditated about the immense cruelty and suffering that lay beneath our feet and all around us.

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