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Published: October 29th 2017
The train arrives
only about 45 minutes late
Yuyu and I went to the station in Kalaw together in the taxi. It turned out it was the boss of the trekking company, A1, and he had bags for 2 others who had been on an overnight trek and boarded at Myindaik as was planned for me. When we got there, the down train, to Thazi, was pulling out. She told me it takes 35 minutes from Myindaik so we would have over an hour's wait.
That is the nature of trains here. At least the trains run to serve the people unlike the delays on British trains. The timetable is up on the wall but the train stopped at any point if people want to put things on it or get off.
A bell rings about 10 minutes before the train comes and you can go into the office to buy tickets. Foreigners give their passport and can only have Upper class. The cost (less than £1 for this trip) includes life insurance!
I did not find it as interesting as the circular train because foreigners have an Upper Class carriage. All the regular travellers are in other carriages it was quite funny that a young
girl kept sneaking into our carriage and hopping into the comfortable seats, whenever the police came through.
When it eventually pulled in, waved into the station by a green flag held by a man at the road crossing, it was already running about 45 minutes late.
The train stops at few stations for example, Aungban and Heho, terminating at Shwenyuang for Inle lake. It also stops whenever someone wants to load up or get off. Hence the impossibility of running to a timetable.
Staff from the A1 trekking company knew that as the train was late it would stop only briefly at Kalaw so they were ready to pass our bags into the carriage through the windows and grab us seats at the same time.
Our seats were extremely comfortable, wide and deeply padded. They swivelled around and once people had worked out the mechanism they unclipped beneath the seats and turn them round so that we were all facing the direction of travel. As well as the foreigners in our carriage there was one man in the seats behind me who looked like a businessman, a monk and just one other, a younger man further
Yuyu and myself
Although we were at the station over an hour the time passed quickly. Yuyu's boss bought my ticket.
down the carriage.
The police patrolled the train and as we had are tickets checked at the first station thereafter they just walked through.
About half way from Aungban to Heho we stopped and I set my ‘mapmywalk’ app running to compare the time by road and train. The result was interesting; 36 minutes drive, 25 km. whereas by train, it took 32 minutes for a distance of only 13 km. That's an average pace of about 2 ½ minutes per km, 24 km per hour. It was probably slower going up the mountains.
I think we left Kalaw around 2 and the timetabled arrival was five but we were likely to be late. We seemed to come down out of the mountains very quickly and after that it was mostly countryside, some flat and much rolling hills. Difficult to film with the movement of the train.
From leaving Heho it is 11km so you'd think about the same time as the previous stretch but in fact it was longer with more stops for people putting loads on or getting off. I saw only one man, loading wood and getting aboard but it is a pretty
A view out of kalaw
We dropped down out of the mountains in much less than an hour
long train so people were stopping it several times during our journey. I noticed that in different places the rhythm of the train varied and it is clearly heard on the video tracks. Also heard is the screeching of the wheels on tracks, the horn blasted almost constantly and the rustling of leaves brushed by the train as it goes through - with so few trains the verges are really overgrown.
Tot: 2.546s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 7; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0357s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb