Krabi Cliffs

Friday Photo Diary – 18th March

Every Friday I’ll be writing a post with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to that week, and include my favourite five photos.

 

Last Saturday I started the tedious two day journey back to Yangon from Hsipaw in the eastern Shan state. Starting early, I boarded the once daily train back over the Goteik Viaduct, arriving in Pyin Oo Lwin by late afternoon. From here I was advised to take a bus back to Mandalay, which would shave three or four hours off my travel time. Finding a tuk tuk to take me to the local bus station proved difficult, but after some heavy negotiations we agreed a price of just less than $1. Assuming that the drive would be just a short distance (Pyin Oo Lwin is a relatively small town) I was surprised to realise twenty minutes later, and having checked Google Maps, that I was several miles out of the town and on my way towards Mandalay. Could it be that I’d negotiated a $1 ride all the way to the city? Two and a half, rather bumpy, hours later and the answer was apparently, yes.

 

After a very brief nights sleep in Mandalay, I boarded another train south to Yangon, departing at 6am. This is one journey where travelling first class does not give any more comfort above lower, and I spent the entire ride wishing I’d paid for an $80 flight instead. Fifteen hours in a carriage which I doubted the temperature dropped below 40 degrees, and I eventually found myself in a luxury airport hotel in Yangon, for the short six hours before my flight out of Burma.

 

After an emotional goodbye to a country that I couldn’t help but fall in love with, and I was back in Bangkok once again – my eighth time in the capital. Reunited with Jeni, we spent the next two days shopping, eating and drinking gin (almost impossible to source in Burma).

 

On Wednesday the two of us took a far more comfortable Thai train from Bangkok down to Surat Thani, travelling overnight in an air-conditioned sleeper carriage, and from there a short bus ride to Krabi town; the starting point of our Thai island hopping.

 

Today we left the comforts of our hotel swimming pool, and explored the number one local attraction – Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Seua. After a very sweaty climb up 1,237 uneven steps, we made it to the top and were rewarded with incredible views over Krabi’s landscapes; karst cliffs, crystal-blue rivers and green plantations.

 

I also got to try out my new camera, an Asian version of GoPro I purchased in Bangkok – see if you can guess which photo was taken using it!
Here are my favourite five for the week:

Goteik Viaduct

Goteik Viaduct

Krabi

Krabi

Temple details

Temple details

View from Tiger Cave Temple

View from Tiger Cave Temple

Pyin Oo Lwin

Friday Photo Diary – 11th March

Every Friday I’ll be writing a post with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to that week, and include my favourite five photos.

 

Apologies for my absence the past two or three weeks; wifi connection in Burma has been an issue, along with other excuses I won’t bore you with.

 

Last Friday I departed Inle Lake, where I’d just finished a beautiful two day trek around the Shan state from Kalaw. Arriving into Mandalay by minibus, the last royal capital of Burma, I had nothing planned other than a few days of R&R.

 

On Monday, my final day in Mandalay, I took a taxi to the nearby town of Amarapura to watch the sun set over U Bein bridge. Believed to be the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world, U Bein bridge is busiest at sunset, when locals and tourists gather to admire the scenery around Taungthaman Lake. Whilst there I was joined by three monks who wanted their photo taken with me – much to my delight, as monks generally don’t talk to foreign women.

 

Early the following morning (4am) I boarded a train northeast to Pyin Oo Lwin, a hill station and the former summer capital under British rule. I travelled ‘ ordinary’ class, or lower class, and was seated on a hard wooden bench in a mosquito-filled carriage for the four hour journey.

 

Pyin Oo Lwin was a literal breath of fresh air, in comparison to other towns and cities I’ve visited in Burma so far. Immensely clean (no litter), green and full of brick, colonial buildings, it appeared to have been dropped there straight out of 1900s England. A horse and carriage was waiting for me on arrival to take me to my British-built guesthouse.

 

Later that day my driver turned up to show me around town in the same carriage, an 1885 Indian-built wooden wagon. He took me to see various British colonial buildings, including Candacraig Hotel and a school, and to the Botanical Gardens, which were full of roses and pansies, and a lake of swans!

 

On Wednesday I boarded the train once again, this time ensuring I secured an upper class seat. The seven hour train ride between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw, my next destination, is named as one of Burma’s highlights and is also written about in Paul Theroux’ book ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’. The reason for this, other than the gorgeous Shan countryside it travels through, is that the train crosses the Goteik Viaduct, which when built in 1900, was the longest railway trestle in the world.

 

After a couple of days relaxing in Hsipaw, I have a two days of non-stop train and bus travel to get back to Yangon in time to fly to Bangkok on Monday. Here I will reunite with Jeni and continue our travels south through Thailand and into Malaysia.
Here are my favourite five for the week:

 

onks at U Bein bridge

Monks at U Bein bridge

Pyin Oo Lwin Botanical Gardens

Pyin Oo Lwin Botanical Gardens

Pyin Oo Lwin taxi

Pyin Oo Lwin taxi

Goteik Viaduct

Goteik Viaduct

Sunset at U Bein bridge

Sunset at U Bein bridge