Trains and Viaducts

Shan State is a beautiful part of Myanmar with deep red earth and forested mountain tops receding in the distance into various shades of indigo blue. I had a picturesque, yet occasionally terrifying, experience traveling by rail from Pwin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw, crossing the deep gorge on a narrow, teetering wooden bridge that seemed made of Lincoln Logs.

According to Google, the Gokteik Viaduct is a vertigo-inducing steel railway bridge that spans a deep river gorge. Built in 1899 and officially opened in 1901, the bridge was constructed as part of the Mandalay to Lashio railway line into Northern Shan State, aimed at expanding the British Empire’s influence in Myanmar.

Like some people, I’ve never been a train aficionado, but the British legacy remains strong – equal parts charm and exasperation. The next train might be ten hours late, but the stations are lovely, and the people are kind.

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