To Mawlamyine – Our Total Train Experience
Down in reception for six, no booked taxi....... One of the staff rushed out into the street and flagged one down, it was just as well we knew our taxi fare to the train station was one pounds fifty or we would have been en route to the airport as the porter had assumed. Dropped at twenty past six, we found our platform but had no idea which carriage. Ten minutes later we found a man with a badge who pointed. Settling into Upper Class, I only hope to manage the ten hour journey without having to use ‘the facilities’.
Bear seated and happy, I bimbled the length of the train, as yet, with no engine. Eleven people carriages, one people carriage that was full of metal bars and an official goods wagon. Once at the end, I felt the need to bimble back.
Someone already sound asleep in Ordinary Class and a another carriage had trendy, blue plastic seats.
We swopped roles, I look more like my mother on a daily basis and often her voice speaks instead of my own, especially when I say something I’ve heard a hundred times before and can do nothing about. There was a jostle and Bear nipped to the front as the engine was clonked into place with a swift smack from a trusty club hammer. Important bits were ducked taped, the driver gave Bear the thumbs up and we left on the dot of seven fifteen.
Bear got his table out, I did not, we opened our breakfast boxes from our digs – sausage, egg, chips and a jam sandwich – what more could we possible want.
Slightly alarming when three policemen, two porters and a ticketmaster came through to check tickets that cost the princely sum of two pounds fifty. We stopped and just as I looking at an empty station, save the plastic stools awaiting the sellers return, a train pulled in the other way. I was transfixed by this chaps face. On his way to work, money worries, poorly wife, children ??? the worries of the world or simply been on the betel nut since he got up.
The next little bit of our journey saw us reach our second highest speed of thirty one miles an hour, any faster and we would have left the rails judging by the increase in wiggling.
The sellers we encountered wandered up and down. A few stayed for the whole journey, a few for just one stop, some transferred to trains we stopped beside and and some sat down to sleep when they had run out of goods. They offered:- water, tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, betel paraphernalia, single cigarettes, cheroots, samosas, satsumas, chickens eggs, raisins, dried fish, prawns in nest looking crispy bits, quails eggs, fried bananas chunks in bunches, peanuts, crisps, chewy candy, oranges, dates, melon slices, clothing, ginger, mango slices, full meals in Styrofoam (smelled good but not sure what), brown stuff in bags (again not too sure) rice in a dried stick, sugar cane chunks to suck and I’m sure stuff we have forgotten about a few and some things that bore no resemblance to anything we have ever seen before. Some of the head trays defied balance and weight, and when they met in the gangway a kind of dance happened.
One betel chap looked quite alarming and the lady next to us bought some of everything until she squeezed the oranges and sent the lady on her way.
The melon lady serving Bear and me, a lady weighing ginger and mixed spice for the passenger opposite, ‘stuff’ wrapped in banana leaves in the not sure department and a lad selling children’s dresses.
Bear was determined to get the carriage resident and after several attempts finally got the little chap.
Sadly, we passed seas of plastic rubbish, added to by everyone on the train, including the ticketmaster who sat in front of us to eat his lunch and when he had finished simply hurled his Styrofoam out of the window. Everyone except us cleared their throat on average every six or seven minutes and spat the red gunk out in streams of spit.
It was a relief when this elderly lady went to sleep as we thought she was trying to cough out one of her kneecaps. Bear bought me some nut brittle and the seller gave a withered smile, I guess the penicillin came free and gave a nice grey fur........We then hit our fastest little bit at a whopping thirty four point one miles an hour. We enjoyed the scenery, saw numerous bee eater birds, stupas, oxen, dogs, bridges, children, workers and ‘interesting stuff’.
Scenery along the way.
We loved people watching but both shuddered as two men crawled the river feeling for eels........
The final bridge before the fourth largest city of Mawlamyine. The Thanlwin Bridge was the longest bridge in Myanmar, before the construction of Pakokku Bridge and connects the city of Mawlamyine with Mottama. Constructed at the confluence of the Thanlwin River, the Gyaing River and the Attayan River in Mon State, the bridge has a two-mile (3 km) motor road and four-mile (6 km) long railroad as well as pedestrian lanes.
The approach structure of the rail bridge on Mawlamyine bank is 1.22 miles long, and on Mottama bank is 1.42 miles long. The total length of the rail bridge is 4.1 miles long. The bridge was designed and built by the Ministry of Construction.
The outskirts of the city.
The final run to the station.
Our 311.5 kilometre in nine and three quarter hours on the train would have taken six hours by car or forty minutes by plane but we wouldn’t have seen and experienced all we have and had such a fun in an experience. We tipped ourselves out at the station and ran the gauntlet of taxi men offering push bikes, scooters, motorbikes, tuk tuks, cars and trucks. A swift negotiation and we loaded into a taxi/truck that took us the fifteen minutes to our digs near the park.
Beds liked his new digs, we had a view from one window over the restaurant which can best be described as a scene from ‘allo ‘allo when we ate there.
The other window looked over a tree that saw a hundred and fifty three crows (Bear’s getting really good at head counts, nothing to crow whispering you know), they settled at dusk and then shouted at each other until about eleven o’clock. Silence ruled then until the call to prayer at ten past four.........a short sharp sleep is required before facing the ‘allo ‘allo crew at breakfast............
ALL IN ALL BUMPY AND AT TIMES SCENIC