The Cai River Railroad Bridge
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 49 of 126 › view all entries
Normally I don't like using maps, preferring to explore on my own and end up where I may. Venturing into the unknown always made for great adventure and discovery; what travel was all about to begin with. But after two failed attempts at setting foot on the Cai River Railroad Bridge - and no reliable maps available of the Nha Trang countryside - I decided it was finally time to throw in the towel and call in NASA. I Google Earthed Nha Trang. Satellite images showed that the best approach to my goal would be from downstream on the north side of the river.
I rented a motorbike for the day - primarily to ride down to Bai Dai Beach at Cam Ranh Bay for a mid-day meeting with some expat friends. With morning time to spare, I crossed the Tran Phu Bridge then turned inland along the Cai, stopping to scan its banks wherever I could.
My curvy road hugged the base of steep hills rising from the north bank. It narrowed to sidewalk width after passing the popular Thap Ba hot spring pools and mud baths. Then, after rounding a sharp turn, the Cai River Railroad Bridge suddenly towered before me and near it, railroad tracks disappearing into a tunnel. I parked the bike and walked toward a yellow signal station at the tunnel entrance. The signalman shunned a photo as he sat for a morning meal but didn't object to my exploring the rocky hillside. The curved tunnel was about a hundred yards long and had sufficient width for a train and pedestrians.
A placard indicated the bridge was built by the Japanese in 1998-99 and it sits at 1311 kilometers on the rail line from Hanoi toward Ho Chi Minh City. Three or four people fished off a narrow walkway on the west side and from there I could see the familiar Vinh Ngoc bridge further upstream. Three others cast lines under the northern base of the bridge. A nearby stone and cement tower ruin might have been part of an older bridge and was pocked with wartime damage.
After lingering a long while savoring my achievement as though I had just conquered Mount Everest or walked on the moon, I lined up behind two other motorbikes to cross on the narrow walkway bolted to the east side of the bridge.