Thursday, January 1, 2015

This is Burma - Travels in the Southeast

I'm back in Yangon, rested, tanned and with a whole lot of video in the can waiting for editing. It was an unforgettable vacation. I saw what I wanted to see. Did what I wanted to do, and met lots of interesting people along the way.

It didn't start off very smoothly. I thought had everything prepared. I wasn't going to forget anything, and although I had some misgivings on the exact itinerary at some points along the journey, I wasn't worried. I went online to review a couple of items I had seen before, and I found an alarming passage regarding train travel in Myanmar. It advised that I should buy my ticket at least a day beforehand as during peak times, trains will fill up.

Uh oh. I was figuring I could show up half an hour before departure, and it wouldn't be an issue. Panic! Fortunately, I was anxious enough that I had woken up with the sun and could still make it to the station well before I thought I needed to.

I shoved the last items into my new, oversized backpack bought just for the journey, zip it up and POP! One of the zippers broke. The closing thingie popped right off. Fortunately, it was one of two and I was still able to close the bag. If that happened to other one, it would make the bag unusable. More panic.

I got to the station and stood in the crowd surrounding the ticket office (they don't queue up very well here). When it was my turn, I bought the last available ticket in the upper-class car. The cost was $3.50 versus $2.00 for ordinary-class, and I didn't want to sit on a wooden bench for eight hours. The next lady in line behind me wanted a seat in the same car; she was out of luck. I got the last seat, but if I hadn't shown up really early, I would have been the one demoted to the cattle car.

As for the trip itself, train travel in Myanmar is slow, bumpy and filled with
unexplained delays and stops. It's also an amazing way to get around as the land is beautiful and fascinating. You also get to appreciate small differences between the regions. For example, once you're east of the Sittaung River, Myanmar looks different. It's dry. Full of hills. As evident by things like the motorcycles baring license plates from Thailand if any at all, it's a little lawless and wild. Even monks are out riding.

Nine hours on a train is a long time, and I was made more disoriented by the fact that my seat faced backwards. I sat facing the back of the car. When the car stopped, I'd look out the window and I felt like was still moving. The scenery seemed to be moving even though we were stationary. A weird felling.

Finally, we rolled into Mawlamyine. When hills, rivers, islands and greenery come together around a city, our planet has the ability to make some pretty spectacular scene. I thought Seattle was a lot like this in combining all these elements into breathtaking vistas. Mawlamyine is even more beautiful. Combine all these things coming together with a beautiful sunset from atop a long, elevated bridge and I can't remember ever seeing a more beautiful site in my life.

Enjoy the video.


  1. I truly enjoy your videos and music. Happy New Year! Blessings, Lynn

  2. Another good one! No mention of your back, so I hope it held out OK. You will always have the possibility of a sudden debilitating pain. Enjoy your days and take care.

    Great sunset at the end of this one!

  3. Watching it a second time, so I can see the whole trip. The train looks like it is a good way to see the countryside. You wouldn't get that in a plane.


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