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Lineside temple-spotting in Thaton and Yinnyein

Posted in Myanmar, Thaton by folkestonejack on January 13, 2017

A beautiful morning tempted us out of our hotel for an early morning trip to capture sunrise at Thaton, starting with a runpast in the mist at 6.45am. After the sunrise we had to return our train to the station by 8am to avoid disrupting the regular services, heading back to the hotel for breakfast. A short lived but spectacular session, delivering more good pictures in an hour or so than on many a day.

A storming start at Thaton

A storming start at Thaton

Our drive back through Thaton highlighted the many beautiful sights in the city, including many delightful smaller stupas. I was tempted to walk back along the road to photograph one of the more unusual of these until it was pointed out that there was a prison on the other side of the road. Waving a camera around there might attract the wrong attention! As it was, our tour guides had been up all night answering questions from the police and explaining to the authorities what we were doing in the area.

With a few hours to kill I returned to my massive room, said hello to the geckos I was sharing with (I’m not sure which of us was more startled when I pulled back the curtains) and once again marvelled at the strange interior design (odd wooden furniture, garden trellis, ultra-fake wood vinyl, towels shaped like swans and a rusting external door into the bathroom!). Later, a few of us gathered in the hallway to watch an exciting drama about a man stealing rice from a monk and his pathway to redemption.

YD964 passes a lineside temple at Thaton

YD964 passes a lineside temple at Thaton

Our afternoon began with the departure of our train at 2.31pm, backing out towards Bago. The first runpasts (3 to 3.15pm) gave us a wonderful combination of a temple by the lineside, semaphore signals and a stupa on the hills beyond. The spectacle caught the attention of the locals and one couple sat down in the fields in front of me, sheltering under an umbrella to watch the second runpast.

After getting the shots we set off back towards Thaton, grabbing another shot with kids looking on in amazement at our train (it’s quite unlikely they would ever have seen a steam locomotive before, as even the short-lived attempt to run tourist trains a few years back ran only five times and in a completely different part of the country).

A local couple watch the steam spectacle

A local couple watch the steam spectacle

We reached Yinnyein just in time to get a shot of the train passing the stupa before the light came off the line (indeed, it was already a little in shadow) and then dashed back over the bridge for a shot with the river. I had been so tentative crossing the bridge in the first place but knowing that time was short didn’t want to be responsible for delaying the second run (as it was the train was still pushing back as I reached the other side).

I had no idea where I was going as I ran down the street but a local kindly pointed the way down an alley and into a riverside back garden with a tight view of the bridge (where the rest had gathered in two clusters). Two local children swung their feet off a small pier as they watched the unusual entertainment. At 5.29pm we re-boarded our train, headed a little farther down the line to try some silhouette shots and then returned to our buses at a nearby level crossing.

Catching the glint at Yinnyein

Catching the glint at Yinnyein

The group is splitting into two here – with one group heading back to Thaton ahead of a trip to the golden rock tomorrow whilst the other will be going to Mawlamyine to take a look around the depot at Mottama and see our loco turned ready for the return to Bago. I thought it was an almost impossible choice but opted for the golden rock to see a little more culture before it gets too much altered by the oncoming tourist onslaught! For the crew it will be a well earned rest day.


One Response

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  1. Peter said, on May 1, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Numerous stunning pictures of this trip!
    Just found the page by chance when looking on google for information on Yinnyein to label my pics of the trip on fotocommunity.
    Wonderful trip report, too that helps me in recollecting what happened on which day and why :-)!
    But who are you folkstone jack?
    Rememeber that morning shot of the YD leaving Thaton on the bridge against the light with the “clean” pond near the tannery, there were only 4 of us crossing the river, Jake, David, Aaron and myself? You got it great with the tree!

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