Local people's daily life in Yangon
January 1, 1970
by Max MA
Myanmar is not as popular as Thailand, Singapore or Malasia in southeast Asia, that is the very reason that lots of backpackers choose Myanmar as the destination. Yes, that’s the thinking pattern we backpackers have. Why you want to go traveling, probably because you get sick of all your normal daily organized life. You want to explore something you have never seen and experienced the life you can’t imagine. And a traveler who has the spirit of adventure must desire to avoid crowding around with all the tour groups. Myanmar is one of the best choices for people like me who want to see something traditional, unique, pure and real.
Let’s go to Yangon first
First thing first, you need the visa to go to Myanmar. According to my experience as a Chinese, you have to fill the form when you apply for the visa and you have to write down which airport you plan to enter. The reason why I choose Yangon as my first stop is that the flight ticket is the cheapest. As a backpacker, the budget has priority, right? And Yangon is in the south of Myanmar, later you can head to north to explore more. Let’s begin with Yangon first.
The best time to visit Myanmar is from November to March since it’s dry season and the temperature is not too high. Coincidentally, the first day I arrived in Yangon is on the first day of 2018, and what’s the first thing I do? Circular City Train!
Way to train station, please walk
If your hostel is in the city center of Yangon, you can just walk to the train station within half hour. Besides, on the way to the train station, you can pass by the Sule Pagoda which is a quite famous one and Vandoola Park which is surrounded by city hall, Yangon region court, and Immanuel Baptist Church etc. It’s the local people’s favorite place to do morning exercise and go for a walk with family and friends.
Probably because it was New Years Day, all the local ladies wore the decent traditional dresses with flowers on the hair walking around, very elegant and pretty. Some young boys played the guitars on the square (I think they want to attract girls’ attention), children chased dogs and big black birds and everybody took pictures (including me, so I look less like a tourist.) Wandering around the park is quite cozy and peaceful. Everyone is chatting and laughing, that’s the meaning of New year and vacation.
The way to the train station is very straightforward, people like me who even get lost when following the voice maps can find it easily. The construction style of the train station is really vintage. Unlike train station in some other cities which try to decorate like the ancient style but actually really fake and cheesy, the railway station here is very real and classic. How dare I say that? Evidence 1: the stairs to the overbridge is accompanied by trash and red disgusting liquid. Evidence 2: the road is not very flat and trim. These are not touristic at all. (Usually, the touristic places will be tidy and clean.)It looks naturally old and messes.
Circular city train
Once you enter the platform, it’s not hard to find out that apparently, the staff treats differently between locals and foreigners. Locals buy the tickets from the desk at the gate, when the staff sees you are a foreigner, they won’t sell a ticket to you and ask you to go to the room on the platform. Obviously, foreigners have to pay more, however, only 200 Kyats (around $0.1). Later when you know then entrance fee of pagodas, you will realize this is really really cheap. The train runs every one hour. And in fact not a lot of tourists, locals truly use it as daily transportation.
While you are waiting for the train, some peddlers will come to you to sell miner water and fruits. A little bit more expensive than the supermarket, but it’s ok to buy some if you are thirsty. I found out that dogs in Yangon are very arrogant. This one showing in my pictures is well-behaved one. Normally when walking on the street, you can see sleepy dogs lying everywhere even in the middle of the road. They don’t care what you human beings are doing and don’t avoid passengers and bikes at all. A lot of dogs are pregnant, they can only be more and more.
Get on the train now!
There is no broadcast in the station, so you just follow the flow. When you see all the people running to the train, you catch up.No air-conditioner inside, windows can open, no doors. You can sit randomly. This kind of train I think I only saw in the movies.
Even though you go to the edge of the open entrance while the train is running, no one will alert you. It’s your train trip, do whatever you like, nobody cares. They believe you are not stupid to make yourself die. So if you are an enthusiastic photographer who pursuit the particular angle, you can do whatever you like on the train.
The whole journey will last 3 hours, and the train will pass by the countryside, you can take off the train in the middle, but I don’t know whether you have to buy the ticket again since I never tried. Monks, peddlers, men, women, the olds, and children are on and off. They chat, sleep and daydream on the seats. Some peddler will put the peanuts and mangos in a big plate holding on the head to sell them to the passengers on the train.
Basically, you can see everything about locals daily life in Yangon along the train trip. And the smell is also very colorful. During the period of seafood market along the railway, it smells like corrupt fishes. And sometimes it is smoky BBQ.
The train will pass by the bridge with scrawl on the inside wall, farmland, mini soccer ball court, market, bush and residence etc. Children play balls, women wash clothes, vendors selling vegetables, cooks fry noodles, everything.
However, to be honest, I swear I have never seen this much rubbish in my whole life. Alongside the rail, everything is changing, one thing is for sure is that rubbish all the time. It’s also part of Yangon. Everything, I mean all the good, the bad, the ugly. It probably is the ugly part of the train trip. Even in the farmland, you can see the plastic and bottles nearby. I think the government knows a lot of tourists will choose this train trip, but they don’t cover it to create a fake phenomenon to the tourist, which is what I call reality. I admire their honesty, but the pollution is real problem concerned about the health of all the Burmese. They should figure out how to deal with all this endless rubbish to guarantee the delight environment.