Reliving History Books

Reliving History Books
The Cu Chi Tunnel complex in Vietnam, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

War destroys families, and ravages countries. Learn the destruction of war to never repeat history at these locations around Asia

Meenketan Jha
February 25 , 2019
06 Min Read

Cities, countries, and continents have been ravaged by wars over many many centuries. The scars of the greatest battles ever fought in the history of mankind continue to evoke strong emotions. While the destruction caused by the world wars is ever so clear and well-documented in Europe, the average tourist to Asia might not be able to comprehend the long standing impact of World Wars in the region. The flashbacks of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki over 70 years ago continues to traumatize Japanese till this day. Though the war in the Pacific officially began in 1941, events dating back to four years prior had already foreshadowed the forthcoming disaster. 

After adventuring through the European landscape (World War I and II Sites in Europe) while in search of War memorabilia, it's time to journey through Asia to relive events that shouldn't ever be repeated. From the World Wars to the proxy wars fought during the Cold War, Asia has learned to be resilient and stand-up again and again.

CHINA

The 9.18 historical Museum. a famous historic site in Shenyang, Liaoning, China.

We start our Asian war trail from the continent's largest country, China. In 1931, the Japanese invaded Chinese mainland by launching a full throttle attack from Shenyang occupying the province of Manchuria. For the next decade and a half, the Japanese would wreak havoc on the region like never seen before. To commemorate this ill-fated event the Chinese government in the 1990s opened up the September 18th Memorial Museum in Shenyang. Through a series of photographs, documents, paintings, films, weapons, and torture devices, one can explore the human destruction that took place in the region. A large bell hangs outside the museum with the inscription 'Never forget our national humiliation'. 

Getting There: Beijing to Shenyang is a 90 minute plane ride. China Southern and Air China provide regular service throughout the day. If you do not wish to travel by the air, a car journey is also a possibility if you don't mind driving for upto 8 hours to cover this 800 kilometer journey. 

  • Timings: Tuesday - Sunday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Entry: Free   

VIETNAM

The Cu Chi Tunnel complex has several levels and is intricately built

As the World Wars came to an end, two nations fought each other to be crowned as the leader of the new world. The frantic competition between the United States and the Soviet Union saw Asia take center stage. Vietnam, in the process, became one of the major players and faced a brunt of damage. The Cu Chi Tunnel complex was first built in the 40s during the French colonial period but was expanded in the 60s once the US increased its military presence. The series of tunnel provide an insight into the Vietnamese way of life and are an intriguing sight for any tourist. The tunnels were divided into various levels with each serving an unique purpose:

  1. The first level, at 3-4 meters deep, was for the firing post laden with bobby traps
  2. As you go lower, a second level was constructed with the kitchen and dormitory
  3. At the third level was the first aid station and the storage room where food and weapons were kept
  4. The final level was connected to the Saigon River providing water resource and an emergency escape route

Getting There: From Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels are about a 90-minute car ride. A taxi is the best way to travel to the location. If you end up landing in Hanoi, getting to the tunnel complex can be a challenge. 

  • Timings: Monday - Sunday, 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM

THE PHILIPPINES 

Miles long barrack destroyed during war on the Corregidor Island

The Japanese forces committed many heinous war crimes across the Pacific during the Second World War. The Corregidor Island in the Philippines is one such living testament of the torture by the troops from the land of the rising sun. The stunning ruins of barracks, hospitals and tunnels used to be the site of one of the fiercest battlefields during the Second World War. It is widely believed that there are still live bombs buried deep in this fascinating structure. 

Getting There: The best way to get to the historic island is by ship from Manila. Book yourself a cruise to the island here

  • Timings: Monday - Sunday (Except holidays), 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM
  • Entry: Weekday USD 52, Weekend USD 55 

THAILAND

Old railway at Hellfire pass in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and the Hellfire Pass are highlights of Thailand's World War II memorabilia. The earlier is home to graves of over 7,000 Allied troops and the latter was the railway track built in the middle of night by Allied prisoners and local workers who were made to dig for 18 hours a day. The workers were often beaten or starved to dead while several others died from the awful living conditions. The graves are a sobering reminder of how many lives were lost because of this global conflict from across the world.  

Getting There: Both locations are quite close to one another. From Bangkok, the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is just over a two hour journey by road. The Hellfire Pass is another hours' ride from the cemetery. 

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

  • Timings: Everyday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Entry: 140 Baht  

Hellfire Pass

  • Opening: Everyday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Timings: Free

INDIA

Ruins on Ross Island of the Residential Headquarters British Administration of Indian Penal Settlement from WWII

The Japanese sought to push back the Allies by spreading behind the scene influence in India, which in itself was fighting against British Colonial rule. The Ross Island in the Andamans, in particular, faced the wrath of the Japanese attack when they quickly established control of the island. 2000 Indians lost their lives as the atrocities of the Japanese grew out of control. The Japanese juggernaut was brought to an end after the British pushed them out. The island is now home to Japanese bunkers and other dilapidated buildings. Discover other war sites in India here.

Getting There: Ross Island is just a few kilometers from Port Blair, which is connected to major Indian cities. Take a ferry from the Aberdeen Jetty at Port Blair. It takes about 20 minutes to reach there. 

  • Timings: Thursday - Tuesday8:30 AM - 4:30 PM (Closed Wednesdays)

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