We are on the road again! After a nice breakfast on fancy-looking china, I asked the first random guy on a scooter I saw to take me to the train station. He said sure, and we were off.
The train station was relatively big and wonderfully old-timey. I immediately headed for the counter, got my first-class, three-dollar ticket, and marveled at the fact that there was not a single computer in the entire office.
Next, I headed out on the platform, past some locals peddling cheap plastic stuff, to find my train already waiting there. It had no closing doors, but the first class was nice and roomy, with comfortable seats. And on one of them sat none other than the Australian lady I had met the day before! We said our hellos, but I opted to take my seat for now and enjoy the increasingly impressive landscape rolling by.
What I hadn’t realized until the train started moving was that it never went faster than 30 km/h (around 20 mph). Every time it approached its speed limit, the entire carriage started shaking violently back and forth – so I assume going any faster would have brought the journey to an abrupt end. This also meant that I wasn’t going to make the 300 km (186 miles) to Yangon by the early afternoon as I had naively thought, but that I would be lucky to make it by nightfall. And of course, I hadn’t booked anything in advance once again. Still, for the time being, I decided to appreciate the slow speed despite the shaking, as it made for much nicer views.
The first few hours I just spent staring out of the window or hanging out of the door. Massive rice fields, as far as the eye could see. Pagodas with golden tips sticking out of lush green canopies. Locals waving at the train, and villages full of straw huts, pimped out with solar panels and TV antennas. During stops, tasty snacks sold by merchants boarding the train for just a few minutes. All in all, a very enjoyable experience!
Eventually, the novelty wore off and I got talking with the Australian lady. First, we talked about how she had traced her father’s footsteps all the way through India, until now in Myanmar. I also learned that far from being her first journey, she had basically spent her entire life abroad as an English teacher. She told me stories about visiting Boracay thirty years ago, living in the Middle East for years, and repeatedly traveling to India and Burma in the past.
This conversation was a fascinating experience for me. I had always dreamed of a life on the road, and here was this lady who was actually doing it successfully. It gave me hope that maybe I could do it, too. Not as a temporary respite from the “real” world – but sustainably, as my actual life. It certainly strengthened my determination to try and make it work somehow.
When we arrived in Yangon, around ten hours had passed, and it was slowly getting dark. The Australian lady kindly brought me to her hotel, so that I could use their lobby Wi-Fi to find myself a hostel for the night. It all worked out well, and we agreed to meet again the next day to go for an explore together. Once I arrived at the hostel everything went super smoothly, the bed and the room were nice and comfy, and it didn’t take long until I drifted off into sleep.