The highlight of our trip was boarding a shaky, early 19th-century train departing from Bangan station. Unlike bus or air travel (which is often tiring and uncomfortable) our experience with railroad passages has been generally positive. But never as exciting as this.
✪ Read Part 2 of 3: Bagan and the Water Festival.
The trip so far has had its moments of awe, pleasant encounters and fun events. However, overall it has been expensive, tiring and bad for health. I think that’s what made this rail passage so wonderful in the end: we were on our way home.
Getting the tickets was a bit of a hassle, but only because of the holiday season. Other than that they were cheap, around $7USD, and no trouble at all. A lucky break, considering that just a couple of years ago they were over a hundred bucks per person (tourist price).
The best part was seeing the locals watch our train go by. As if there is nothing else in the world to do, they would line up to watch us roll. Many would wave, yell “hello!” Some would film the train pass by on their mobile phones or tablets. A kid ran with the train for a good five minutes before giving up. In Myanmar, tourists are not allowed to drive or visit areas beyond the outlined tourism board-approved districts. This brief interaction with the people in the “forbidden zone,” which we inevitably had to cross by rail, felt warm and genuine, even though it only lasted a moment at a time.
We arrived in Yangon the next morning to spend three tedious days of waiting and eating packaged ramen noodles before moving back to Thailand, hour home for the time being.