Monday, June 23, 2014

chugging along...

I've been privy to many-a-train ride in my day but the most memorable, the most heart pounding, and easily the most enjoyable ride I have ever had the pleasure to experience was a short 7 hour journey between the tiny Burmese towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw.

The former Chinese carriages, built for a different gauge than the tracks they currently move on, chug along the hilly countryside, past tiny villages, at a maximum of 40 kilometers (25 miles) an hour.

The carriages jolt and shake across the entire journey, causing passengers walking down the aisles to grapple for any solid object to keep them from losing their balance. The overly plush $6 US dollar first class seats rock back and forth, at times involuntarily ejecting its tenant into the seat in front of them.

The more stable wooden benches in the $2 USD ordinary class seating provides a more authentic experience with the opportunity to interact with the locals as your butt bounces along the hard surface.

It's inconceivable the consequences that would incur if the train sped along any faster before toppling onto its side.

But the slow chug is slowed even further, at a comfortable walking pace, to inch its way across the Goktiek viaduct. Built in 1901, the viaduct, which hovers over a 300 meter (985 foot) gorge, was the 2nd tallest in the world upon completion.  Since then, little maintenance has been done on its upkeep.

Thus, by crossing the viaduct, you potentially sign your life away with two different options:

A) the train could jump the tracks of its own volition, sending you plummeting to your imminent death.
B) the viaduct could collapse, causing the train to free fall 300 meters as it twists and turns, carriages banging against each other, with no better an ending than the first option.

But the views are worth the risk.

1 comment:

Patti said...

That is quite a train ride. Loved the video. It brought the other pictures to life by giving them more context. And the view is spectacular.