The Zingyaik duck shoot
On our re-union with the other half of the tour group we began an afternoon of photography between Zingyaik and Yinnyein, but not before a snack lunch in the shelter of Zingyaik station on what must be the hottest day so far. It sounded as though the other group got some good shots at Mottama shed (including a rather surprising wartime armoured vehicle with a rotating turret that is still in use as a permanent way vehicle) and found plenty of interest in Mawlamyine.
The modest station at Zingyaik, located by a stone yard, was rather older than it seemed at first – the steel beams holding up the roof were stamped with Barrow Steel 1/1892. As with most stations the copious signage included a directive to ‘Warmly welcome and take care of tourists’ as well as a reminder that the public chewing and spitting out of betel nut chew was forbidden (probably to avoid the unsightly red blotches that you see everywhere here, rather than to break the national addiction to this carcinogenic narcotic).
After a leisurely start, we began our photography with a demonstration of how stone was traditionally loaded onto these trains, given that in the last days of real steam this was the most likely cargo to be transported. It was a slightly odd moment of hard labour for tourists! As the railways would not allow us to run with loaded trains the stone had to be removed before our departure at 1.33pm.
Only a short way up the line we stopped at a spot where a water channel with a duck farm runs parallel to the line and proceeded to have great fun trying to get our moving targets in the same shot as the approaching loco on a runpast. Ironically, some of the best shots came from the stationary loco after our tour leader, Bernd, called for some smoke. It looks good if you ignore the tell tale signs that the train isn’t actually moving!
The next stop up the line delivered perhaps the most haphazard bridge we have seen on this trip, featuring logs rather loosely tied together. After about two-thirds of the group had crossed it started to fall apart and the locals had to repair it before everyone could return!
At this point our train returned to Zingyaik (arriving at 2.45pm) where we waited 35 minutes for train 89 to Mawlamyine to cross before we could resume our journey up the line towards Yinnyein (setting off for the second time at 3.40pm). Once again we found ourselves crossing a bridge over the water channel into the fields – this time a bridge made of pipes – before a half hour session with four runpasts (4-4.35pm).
Finally, we made it to Yinnyein. As the pagoda by the river shot here is quite tight we split the group into two and each had the opportunity to try the shot from the optimum position. I joined the second attempt around 5.20pm. Unfortunately, the loco produced too much smoke and completely obscured the pagoda. Too much smoke is rarely a problem, but here it most definetly was!
After finishing the day with some sunset shots in the fields we boarded our buses at Yinnyein around 6.30pm and drove on to Thaton for the night. I welcomed the return to the local restaurant we had tried a few nights back and enjoyed the re-acquaintance with one of the most flavoursome dishes we have tried here (a dish of spiced pork, egg and onion was quite incredible). A good end to an enjoyable afternoon in the sun.