After running with our bags to catch the 12:35 train to Yangon, Nick and I boarded the car covered in sweat. It took 6 hours to make the 107 mile journey topping out at 31 mph. Although it felt like we could run faster, it gave us time to soak in our surroundings. Nick and I have been constantly stared at in Myanmar, but the stares quickly turn to smiles and we befriended a handful of local passengers on the train. Men and woman walk the cars selling quail eggs, oranges, grilled fish, peanut brittle, cigarettes, powdered coffee, and betel nut until their baskets are empty. Woman balance these large baskets on their head and jump from car to car. Our new friends bought nick and I corn which was the favorite snack among the locals. The huge yellow cob of corn was sweet and juicy. We also tried white and purple corn which had hardy kernels that were extremely starchy and filling. Nick and I watched kids from every town come to the tracks to wave as the train passed. It seemed like it was their daily form of entertainment. Young boys would bike their sisters down and they would just stare as we passed by. As we approached Yangon we gazed out our windows speechless as we passed by fields of garbage and dilapidated inner city complexes.
Yangon was an interesting colonial city. Unlike Phenom Penh, there were huge side walks, parks, railways and relatively organized traffic. I could imagine a time when this city was thriving but now it felt as if there were few updates since British rule. It was undeveloped, but in a different way than Cambodia or Laos. The smell of human waste and fish oil seemed to follow us. Betel nut stations were found on every corner. Locals watered the street in front of their homes and storefronts every evening to reduce dust and vats of public drinking water could be found every hundred feet. Somehow we had amazing luck with the public bus system. Although we had no information before getting on any bus, somehow we were able to predict the routes based on major city roads. We were clearly an uncommon occurrence for the locals.
During our time in Yangon Nick and I visited Shwedagon Paya, Myanmar’s main stupa which was part of a larger complex (82 other buildings). We visited a St. Mary’s Cathedral and the large Bogyoke Aung San Market. We celebrated Myanmar’s Independence Day at People’s Park with a chocolate milkshake (powdered chocolate milk, shaken) and on what appeared to be the country’s only rollercoaster. Although this may have not been the safest decision we’ve made on our travels, we laughed at the scene. Hundreds of locals watched in fear, gasping, as the cars flipped upside. There seemed to be a line of 10 people so we patiently waited our turn. When we were next, somehow 30 people pushed and shoved in front of us and we had to wait 3 rounds. We also lost at the pushing game while riding the city trains, Nick and I will have to improve on this before India!
Favorite Yangon Eats: Indian Chief, Aung Thukha and Lucky Seven.