Roads and Railways in Northern Shan State
Overland travel in the verdant mountains of Northeastern Myanmar means crowded local buses with people and cargo — until the road stops and the trekking trail begins. Local transport also means slow-moving trains with at least one hair-raising viaduct crossing over the famous Goteik Gorge.
In the huge mountainous region located in the East of Myanmar, called Shan State, the roads are not as good as in the rest of the country and call for alternate means of transportation, or, at the very least, a slower pace. Such is the case of the bus that will bring you from Hsipaw to Kyaukme, a truly local bus, where your travelers will have to share the bus with not only other passengers, but also with cargo bags of rice, fresh vegetables, and sometimes one or more live chicken(s). Upon arrival in Kyaukme, a full day trekking is the only way to reach some of the remotest places of Shan State to see tea farmers who live on remote mountainsides without the benefit of modern roadways.
The best part of travelling that part of Northern Shan State is a train ride at a pace of 38 kilometers an hour, while being shaken by bumpy railroad tracks even in the seats of the upper class. Upon reaching the famous Goteik Gorge Bridge, somewhere between Kyaukme and the former British Hill Station, Pyin Oo Lwin, no one on the train will remain in their seats anyway, as the train will cross this bridge 100 meters above the river valley floor at only a walking pace. The open doors in every car will invite your travelers to take a look down, where they can see that the train is as wide as the bridge – or is it that the bridge is only as wide as the train?
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Photo2 by: JP Klovstad