FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Extreme gardening and floristry

Posted in Myanmar by folkestonejack on January 16, 2017

The last day of our photo charter began with an earlyish start by bus. leaving our hotel in Thaton under cover of darkness in the hope of catching the morning glint a little further down the line. Our train is heading back to the shed at Bago but we will only stay with the train whilst we have light. It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll make it as far as Mokpalin, let alone Bago.

Catching the glint at Theinzeik

Catching the glint at Theinzeik

As the sun rose we found ourselves at Theinzeik, roughly 17km from Thaton. The scene was a familiar one to veterans of Burmese steam, but the beautiful pool of water they remembered was much depleted and a line of previously submerged junk had now become visible on the side nearest to the village. Although this reduced the possibilities for a reflection shot, we still had enough water to play with and beautiful conditions to match.

Once our reflection had been captured we walked a little way down the line to capture a bit more of the rural scene and the semaphore signals here before finishing up at 8.45am in good time for a passenger express to overtake us (at 9.07am). All pretty straightforward stuff, despite the efforts of a mean looking beast to intimidate us. Breakfast arrived as we waited to set off again – bananas delivered by motorbike!

Heading north from Theinzeik

Heading north from Theinzeik

Our train departed at 9.29am. Once again I joined the box car at the rear of the train, which is not unusual for a FarRail tour and yet this is still the most remarkable that I’ve travelled in.

The box car doubles up as the kitchen for the crew – a chef and his mate have a drum stove at one end of the box car and boxes of kitchen equipment with which to rustle up a fitting meal. Today, this means that the smell of fish curry is wafting through the air over the photographers filling every available space in the middle of the car. At the other end, hanging out of the door, we have our smartly turned out and ever-smiling singing guard, who is never to be seen without his smart white railway uniform and cap. Freight class really is the way to travel!

One of the small shops at Hnin Pale station

One of the small shops at Hnin Pale station

The journey north took us to Donwun where we stopped briefly (10-10.14am) so that the diesel could be attached to the front of the train to try and help us make some distance. The next stop came at Hnin Pale (10.45am) where we took on water with the assistance of the local fire brigade and waited for a passenger service to pass (11.35am). With the passenger service out of the way we pushed back in the direction of Theinzeik for a shot of the box-girder bridge we had just passed over.

Major gardening was required to make this possibility. Thankfully, some locals came to our assistance with machetes – helping to return the scene to how it had appeared a decade earlier before the line had become overcrowded by bushes. For a finishing touch one of the lads arranged some purple flowers as additional foreground! Three runpasts here (12.00-12.30) made good use of that work and ensured that everyone got the shot.

The view after some extreme gardening

The view after some extreme gardening

We returned to Hnin Pale station at 12.50pm and enjoyed lunch from the station cafe – chicken curry with rice. The most remarkable thing about this was how they served it up on giant leaves sat on top of newspaper. It feels like the Burmese equivalent to fish and chips – very tasty too!

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