The plan the following day was to take the 9:30 am scenic train to Pyin Oo Lwin so we could see the countryside at a nice slow pace and view the impressive Gokteik Viaduct which was built in 1901 by contractors from the Pennsylvania Steel Company.
At 318 ft high and 2257ft across, it was the second-highest railway bridge in the world when it was constructed and remains Myanmars longest, but we were told that the trains have to slow to a crawl when crossing to avoid putting undue stress on the aging structure – not at all worrying….
However, to prove that the British influence is still strong in Myanmar the train was delayed for 5 hours while they tried to sort out a goods train that had derailed. After a morning of wandering around the markets and drinking coffee by the riverside, we finally left at 2:30 pm.
The rail staff hadn’t managed to sort out the derailment but did have a cunning plan – drive the train up to the derailment, get all the people off the train, march them through paddy fields around the problem and then get on a different train to take us on to our destination – intriguing solution and definitely a travel first for all of us.
We spent the next 7 hours or so (of a 5 hour journey) cruising through amazing countryside and stopping for ages in stations while people rearranged carriages and tried to sell us everything under the sun.
We finally arrived at our hotel at 11pm but it was one of those days where you just have to go with it, but it was worth it for the scenery and the people watching opportunities and at least we have an interesting memory of the day we changed trains in a field!