Backpacking across Burma, Yangon's Circle Line

3:58 AM

They were my most trying hours in Burma.

Never mind the hours on board a non-air con cab while traveling across the central plains of Myanmar nor the overnight ten-hour bus rides with the TV on. Strike out even that painful 45-minute trek to Anisakan falls from the list.

It was MY last day in Myanmar while Cathy, Raffy, and Simrit were flying out the next day. Morning was spent browsing through street side book stalls of Yangon and the afternoon was about to be whiled away again. But believe me when I say that the three-hour train ride, circling Yangon and its suburbs, was one of the most trying hours of my Burmese holiday.

Let me start by saying that the train reeked of urine and of some things I’d rather not name. Things got worse when it started to rain which forced the passengers to spread out the metal shutters. This also muddied some of the seats and most of the floor which was littered with rubbish. For certain stretches of the track, the train started to chug sideways and implanted the fear that I’d be thrown out of the window unto some rice paddy or a pile of rubbish in the outlying slums.  

But I finally surrendered to the reality of where I was when several Burmese ladies called my attention and asked me to direct my camera lens towards them. I don’t know if it was because I am a female and they felt comfortable asking me such a thing or was it because of a desperate want to be seen. Imagine, they wanted to have a photo they’ll never see again nor have a copy of!

I managed to survive the ride by mainly sticking my head out the window and clicking my camera perpetually. Bustling markets, lush rice paddies, and locals going about their daily lives made for interesting subjects. But more importantly, they reminded me that well – there’s nothing romantic about poverty.

I came to Burma hoping to get a glimpse of a country that’s frozen in time, a place that’s seductively exotic. I found and got a taste of that, thank heavens. But I also saw much suffering and hardship, just like back home in the Philippines. These reminded me that: 

1. If the Philippines doesn't want to slide back into the void, again, we'd better get our act together.  
2. We have a very long to-do list if we want to make this world a better place. 

The high court building in uptown Yangon.

The telegraph office sports some neoclassicism in its design. 

Crisscross tracks make for interesting hurdles.

Here's a rare sight: George Orwell's Burmese. 

Here's one groovy monk!

Young ladies in their Longyis wait for the train. 

Siesta at the platform. 

"Want some ice candy?" 

Strike a pose! She asked me to take her photo. 

Cathy, Simrit, and Raffy pretty excited for the upcoming three-hour ride. 


Cathy looking forward to the sights.
"Why, hello there." 

The bananas seem to have scared the little one. 
I think she kept herself from smiling too much.

Mother and daughter bashful but still happily smiled for the camera. 

Mom was more camera friendly than baby.

Beetle nut chews on sale on board. 

The train isn't really clean, at all. 

A lovely Mexicana looking out the train window.

Fresh seafood for passengers alighting at this stop.
Some sunshine after the rain. 

Some rice paddies along the tracks.
Seems like I wasn't the only one who had to hang her head outside the window. 
The train passed by the airport!
One thing you shouldn't do: stick out your arm outside the window!
Some passengers eat their supper at the train stops. 

 *Next post: a weekend in Penang

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