Locals attend Hell Fire Pass Dawn Service

Locals attend Hell Fire Pass Dawn Service

The Dawn Service at Hell Fire Pass.

Local Serpentine couple, Ray and Rose Schmidt, have just returned from Thailand where they attended the Dawn Service at the dreaded Hell Fire Pass, or Konyu Cutting.

Over 12,000 Australian Prisoners of War and tens of thousands of local Thai and Burmese people died at the hands of the Japanese on the construction of the Thai-Burma (Death Railway) here.

The couple said the area at the end of the cutting was very small, with room for only around 200 people, so the army had set up a huge screen and marquee back at the top near the interpretative centre for those who could not make it into the cutting.

The pair rose at 2am to head out to the army base to be able to get into the cutting for a 5.30am service.

After the service a Gunfire Breakfast was held for all who attended.

Hundreds of fellow Aussies descended onto the Town of Kanchanaburi, on the banks of the River Kwai in the days leading up to the service.

Having been to Kanchanaburi and the Pass before, they were determined to one day return for the Anzac Dawn service, but unfortunately COVID caused a delay, so the return was combined with a holiday in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Having been to Vietnam several times before, one of the highlights this time was a scooter ride around some of the roadside culinary areas in Saigon or HCM City at night.

They also travelled the length of Vietnam by train from Hanoi to HCM, stopping at the old capital of Hue and Baa Naa Hills – which continues to expand – and Hoi Anh, which sadly is being loved to death by tourists.

Cambodia also did not disappoint. Despite 40-degree temperatures, the temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Tomb Raider temples were deemed ‘fantastic’.

But the highlight of the holiday for Ray and Rose, apart from the ANZAC service, was Laos. Laos is an emerging tourist destination that they believe will boom in years to come.

The capital of Vientiane, with its French influence and Arc De Triomphe look-a-like, was great, and the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang was beautiful and very clean with some beautiful hotels to stay in, according to the pair.

A trip up the mighty Mekong River was a standout for the Serpentine pair.

Two other highlights of the holiday for them were a hot air balloon ride over the town of Vang Vieng – the adventure capital of Laos – and a two-day trip up the mighty Mekong River on a Long Boat. Thailand is building a huge dam on the Mekong River, which will raise the height of the river around 10 metres or so when it is completed in a decade, displacing hundreds of villages and requiring boats to travel through a loch system. So, Ray and Rose advise anyone wanting to see the mighty Mekong in the wild, to get in soon before it’s gone.