It was not to be the end of stunning sights and the jaw dropping Gokteik Viaduct was next on my list the following day. Located between Nawnghkio and Kyaukme along the historic Burma Road, and 100km northeast of Mandalay, the Gokteik Viaduct was built during the British colonial times and is a spectacular railway bridge about 100m tall and 700m long. In order to catch a glimpse of this man-made marvel, we decided to take a 1.5 hours train ride from Naung Peng train station to Nyaunghkio. As it was also my first time on board a local train in Myanmar, I was not too sure of what to expect. There were two different classes of seats that we could choose from, the upper class and the normal class which consisted of wooden seats. We chose the normal class seats, hoping to get a more authentic experience.
And it certainly did not disappoint. Unlike riding the train in Singapore which can be rather dull at times with most people either sleeping or looking at their phones, the Burmese train riding experience presented a totally different proposition altogether. There were food sellers expertly balancing their huge pans of food on their head while eagerly trying to sell them to onlooking passengers. Other than food, there were also peddling of other items along the narrow train aisle such as herbal medicine and one seller even provided samples of the ointment that he was selling by pouring drops of them onto the hands of curious onlookers. It was indeed a hive of activity.
Suddenly, the train grinded to a halt and passengers were seen rushing to the windows.
I turned to look out and there it was, the legendary Gokteik Viaduct. After stopping for a while, the train started moving again and this time, it was going to travel slowly across the bridge. Many passengers were seen trying to get the best shots of the train travelling on the Viaduct and some even positioned their phones out from the train windows. I wanted to do the same but with the train nearly 300m above the ground, I knew that a single slip of my fingers would spell the end of my beloved phone. Thus, I decided to simply snap a few shots and then sit back and marvel at this engineering brilliance.
The train soon reached Nyaunghkio station and we then decided to make the drive to Pyin Oo Lwin. Known as the flower city, Pyin Oo Lwin was originally created as a summer town for the British due to its cooling weather. This is why there remains about 150 colonial buildings and some members of the British royal family still continue to live there up till today. The town has since transformed into a popular holiday destination for the local youth and many flock there for the year-end flower festival featuring local pop music as well.
Upon reaching Pyin Oo Lwin, we decided to visit the Sithar coffee garden. For coffee enthusiasts, this place would be a real paradise as you will be able to enjoy a comprehensive guided tour about the whole process of coffee-making from the planting of coffee seeds up till the harvesting of coffee plants. For non-coffee lovers like myself, I still found myself enjoying the cooling walk through the garden and there was even a nice surprise at the end of it when we reached a picturesque lake.
After the tour, we were offered a cup of their aromatic hot coffee and sipping it under the cooling weather can be described as one of the best feelings in the world. Pyin Oo Lwin certainly had a whole lot more to offer but due to a lack of time, we had to head back to Mandalay.