Journeying North to South in Myanmar

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Waiting for another bus, this time back down south to Yangon, I met two Brits and a Danish guy. The two Brits were the ‘know it all types’ – the ‘ we’ve been there and done that’ types and the ‘ weve got the tshirts and hundreds of bracelets to prove it!’ types…god they were annoying! Then the Danish guy spent half of the time telling me about his bodily functions and the other half in the toilet! Oh the joys of meeting other travellers! It was a 14 hour journey back to Yangon where I would jump off the bus and onto the train…a long, long travel day!
I’d done my research on the bus ticket so I knew that on arrival in Yangon bus station I could jump on a free truck into the city. This was news to the Brits who hadn’t heard about it so it couldn’t possibly be true? ” How could we not know about this?” they asked each other. I couldn’t help but feel smug as they ended up following me!
I got to the train station, purchased my foreigners ticket, nearly got scammed out of money as a little man insisted on carrying my bag on his head to the train…fought my way through all the children sweeping up the platform and trying to sell me food and got to my carriage.
The train was very old with big wide reclining seats and windows with no glass in them. I had a window seat for my 10 hour ride.

I was heading for Mawlamyine.

The train wasnt too busy as we left the station but i knew we would be stopping many times along the way. On board was really mingling dirty but I liked it.
I was getting a lot of stares from people as I was the only westerner that I saw in particular from the little girl in the seat in front of me. She kept popping up on her knees to peer over her seat at me. We played a bit of hide and seek and sticking our tongues out at each other during the trip. There are always ways to communicate even when you can’t speak the same language!

The first stop we made was a busy one. Lots of people jumped on and sat down and lots of people jumped on to try and sell us all some food! It was amazing to watch some of the woman with these huge circular trays piled high with fruit, skewers of meat or cigarettes, sweets etc put on top of thier heads! I have no idea how they kept their balance once the train pulled out as it was so wobbly.

I was given some things to try, like some mini red fruits. They were packaged into small parcels and I have no idea what they were but they tasted good. A man gave them to me after he sat next to me to chat with some great broken English and he drew a picture of my tattoo as he said he wanted one ( this happened several times in Myanmar)

At the next stop some men got on with big steaming pots…one had rice in and the other had some sort of chicken concoction! It was only 9am in the morning but people in Asia don’t eat breakfast like us…so a steaming bowl of god knows what…was my breakfast and very nice it was to.

The scenery was lovely. I felt very relaxed just hanging out the window. It was rural and calming.
At every stop, there was a village and in every village the children ran out to wave at the train. A lady a few seats up started to throw out sweets and fruit to the children and I watched as we went past as they all scurried to grab them. They must be hungry I thought. It was very humbling. I brought some fruit and crackers and joined in throwing the food out when the children waved. Everyone would point and wave at me with big beaming smiles! It was a great experience, watching their world go by.

The experience reminded me a little of my train ride in India to Agra. The wobbly train, the children, the smells…I can’t even describe the toilet – lets just say after my first visit, my eyes were streaming and I drastically reduced my intake of water!

The train also had a few residents…little tiny mice. They made me jump a few times, scurrying under my seat. They have a good life on board that train as its the norm for the people to just drop their food and rubbish on the floor- I could never find any bins? I had tried to keep my area clean by putting any waste in the net on the back of the seat in front but that seat was home to that little cheeky girl who kept popping up and chucking her fermented egg shells all over the floor! Yuk to me…attractive to mice!

The scenery started to change, it got busier, with more shacks packed into smaller areas. The jungle trees replaced by washing lines and the blue sky view became covered in telephone wires.I had arrived in Mawlamyine…

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