Gokteik Viaduct and U-Bein Bridge

 We spent a few more quiet days in Hsipaw until Tim fully recovered. The means of transport we chose to get out was the train. There was only one that left the town around 9am and arrived quite late in Mandalay, but it was insanely cheap and we were certainly not in a hurry. The ride was one of the best I have ever been in, not only because the mountains around us were lush and beautiful, but because it featured the Gokteik Viaduct. This impressive engineering feat takes you over an abysmal gorge, surrounded by forest. We saw at least five different waterfalls in the space of a few hundred metres, and the train slowed to a crawl as it made its way over the bridge.


If you look down you can see the old wooden bridge that has fallen in disrepair (no longer being in use) and makes you feel double as safe on the current structure. The train itself is quite bumpy and you can see between the carriages and straight down to certain death, so it’s not for people afraid of heights – unless it takes them over the limit and cures them for good.


We stopped in Pyin Oo Lwin around four PM and had some lunch. A few tourists (maybe 3 more on board in total?) bailed on the train and decided to take a truck to make the remaining of the journey in half the time. We had already paid for the whole way and were enjoying the ride enough to endure the last six hours without flinching.

We changed hotels to a cheaper one for our second time in Mandalay, which meant going up five flights of stairs but not many other changes apart from that. We had left the guitar behind (as the original plan was to hike back) and we realized we had both missed it. The time had come, and I started taking guitar lessons from master Tim. My fingers hurt quite a bit those first few days…

The following day we rented bicycles to visit the famous U-Bein bridge (1.2km), that crosses lake Taungthaman and is made completely out of teak. We slowly made our way threading through the city traffic, but everyone was very polite and patient to us. The only concern and danger were a few dogs that came out of nowhere and crossed our path, but apart from that it was a nice chilled ride.

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We first visited the western side of the bridge, where we took some pictures and had lunch at a very relaxing place we had all for ourselves. The owner was lovely and gifted us with all the tea we could drink (which in my case is HEAPS). He had a guitar laying around that I picked up to practice my baby cords, to realize how lucky I was to be learning on a fairly nice guitar: His sounded awful, and it wasn’t just me missing the notes…

You are not meant to take a bicycle over the bridge (it is quite old) so we instead cycled aaaall the way around the lake and into the other side, where we parked the bikes to cross over on foot (and back). There were mostly local tourists around, but also a few foreigners. There was also a whole contingent of monks and some novices. It was quite interesting to see the fisherman around the place and a man herding a bunch of ducks from one place to the other.

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The way back was quite tiring and my knee was reminding me how much it sucks to grow up. We cycled almost 60km that day and were quite exhausted by the time we made it back. It was regardless a very nice experience and a good way to remind us that fitness is an ongoing concern and something we should devote more time to…

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