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Published: January 24th 2013
14 January 2013
It is a crispy cold morning which we are not really prepared for ( we are packed for beach weather). We put on most of the clothes in our packs and go for a walk. We have three hours to kill before taking the train from Kalaw to Inle Lake. We decided on the train because it is a short trip from here down to Inle and we'd like to check out what the train journeys are like before taking a long one. The fact that the 46km journey was going to take 5 hours should have been warning enough.....
We take a covered path up the hill towards a monastery that overlooks the town, and on the way discover the village well. As mentioned before, wells are a great place to meet people and watch life happening. This morning there is a queue of little boys fetching water for their mothers. The containers are the same size as the boys and they carry them, one on either side of a stick slung across their shoulders. Some are a little grumpy, but others share a giggle with us and we take some great pictures.
the monastery there are a couple of benches where you can sit and look out across the valley. Kalaw sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and is really pretty in its smokey haze this morning. We sit.
Two little girls come walking up the path hand in hand chattering quietly to each other. They pass us, but then one of them turns back and runs up to us. She hands me a purple flower she has picked on her way up the hill and runs off again. I am so surprised I can hardly get the " Chesu dimade!" out before she disappears.
Back down the hill and at the station. The train is running about a half hour late which is basically on time around here. We have heard horror stories about trains being up to 8 hours late. Andrew leaves me with the bags and goes off to buy tickets.... And doesn't come back. Ahh! I find him in deep conversation with a man of Pakistani descent about ... Cricket.
Our train pulls in about 15 minutes late and we are ushered unceremoniously into the soft seat carriage which is reserved for tourists and
more from the well at Kalaw
heavy loads for little boys!
Burmese who are willing to pay the price (which is a hefty US$3). The train is probably a late 1940s model. It must have been quite grand once upon a time. There are shutters on the windows of the soft seat carriages and ceiling fans which must have worked once but are now tangled in cobwebs. The seats were once plush and reclining, but are now slightly thin in the stuffing and permanently partly reclined. The toilet is a less impressive hole in the wooden floor than what must have been there previously.
We set off extremely slowly. It is downhill all the way to Inle. Then the rocking and rolling starts. It's a bit like sitting out an earthquake. Sometimes we bounce up and down as if on horseback and sometimes we roll sickeningly from side to side. How this train stays on the tracks is a mystery. I film the carriage in front of us through the adjoining doors. It is not moving in tandem with our carriage but is swaying wildly to its own non-rhythm. I wonder about survival statistics from train wrecks....
At every station there is a crowd of vendors on the tracks
selling food. We opt for some delicious steamed buns stuffed with shredded coconut and sugar for lunch. Who needs a restaurant carriage?!!
The pastoral scenery bounces by. We pass farms where villagers grow everything from rice to avocados, and ponds where water buffalo languish. It is beautifully serene. Then, just before Shwe Nyaung we pass through a little bit of what is left of some Burmese bush. Awesome! Then it is sugar plantations and we're at our destination. It feels like we have covered hundreds of kilometres, it has taken all day, but it is still only 46.
Tot: 0.091s; Tpl: 0.022s; cc: 8; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0231s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb