Thanbyuzayat will always be an important town in the mind of this Southern Myanmar writer, for it was the end of the line. The edge of the black zone, for so long the point at which foreigners were not permitted to pass, the promise of what lied beyond.
During the middle week of March 2013 I paid all due disrespect to this restriction passing over that fateful line and getting introduced to the TRUE SOUTH a land of astonishing natural beauty and warm hearted people who had been isolated for so long.
6 months later on the 28th of August 2013 the black zone status was resindered which put in place the backdrop for this website, it has been a privilege and honor to witness the South’s introduction to the world and I am personally proud of the small enterprises we have assisted through our promotion of the the south as a tourist destination. That being said my greatest memory of Thanbyuzayat will always be my first visit to the War Cemetery.
Entering in through the pale stone archway one cannot help but be struck by the silent and still atmosphere of the cemetery. The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth war graves commission and they must be credit with its immaculate upkeep. In remembrance of those who gave everything the graves are laid out with mathematical precision, not a blade of grass is out of place and a small flowering plant stands guard over every grave. An old wooden cross stands in the corner with the words “this cross was made and setup in this cemetery…by the men held prisoner during the years 1942-1945 and is preserved here as a witness to their faith and fortitude”.
The site where the cemetery is currently situated was originally a POW camp for prisoners forced to work on the Siam-Burmese railway during the second world war. The construction of the railway was an ambitious project commissioned by the Japanese to bolster supply lines to their Burmese offensive. The Kanchanaburi terminus of the railway is a well-attended site of remembrance, the Burmese end however still holds an air of silence.
On the day of my visit only one other Burmese family was in the entire cemetery. The epitaphs and messages from loved ones left behind resonated even louder against the airy silence of an empty cemetery. Poignant words etched in my mind.
While the cemetery is not a tourist attraction in the conventional sense it is well worth taking some time out from your travels to pay remembrance at this historically significant site.
For more information including lists of fallen and cemetry plan’s if you are wishing to visit a realitive please follow the link to the Commonwealth War Graves Comission.
How to get there; Bus to from Mawlamyine, bus leaves at the main bus station and takes about 2 hours to arrive; cost $2, then motorbike or tuk tuk from Thanbyuzayat town centre 2 miles turn right at the round about towards Setse Beach.
Death Railway Monument
Back in Thanbyuzayat town centre there is a small section of tracks and an old engine which, the engine is an ok photo opportunity but the monument somewhat lacks any information or link.
15 miles north of the town is a partually constructed sitting buddha. the sheer scale of the image warrents a 5 minute stop.
Setse is a locals beach, sand is a little muddy and water clarity is poor, the beach does have accomodation, otherwise a little hard to recomend.