April 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

After Mandalay I decided to go to Bagan, the city of over 2000 temples. I booked a 2nd class ticket on the train. It was meant to depart at 9pm, but it didn’t leave until almost 11. The station had a festive air about it because it was the last night of the festival. Even the employee whom we asked for directions to our platform was shitfaced. The cause for the delay was simple: the most necessary element for a train’s locomotive function was absent: the engine.

Physically, this was the worst railroad experience of my life. Although psychologically, it wasn’t worse than the feet of Vietnam.

Sitting stupefied for two hours, knowing neither the cause for the delay nor when we’ll finally move because there are no announcements and no staff to answer questions… I couldn’t manage one comfortable position on the rigid wooden bench. But the hardness of the bench on which my poor bum (sore from being wet all day) sat was nothing compared to the misery brought on by the back of the bench which stood at almost 90 degrees to the seat. Add to this the heat and the clothes clinging to my body. But the most disagreeable sensation was on my face which was so itchy from sweat that I wanted to howl and claw and everything in between.

When the train finally moved, a few more problems became apparent. The scarcity of fresh air due to the smell of the engine coming through the window and the couch’s trembling from tracks too narrow for its girth caused all passengers to jerk and sway 45 degrees or more at least every 10 minutes. And the drunk men singing Burmese ballads…

drunk boys. notice the benches...

drunk boys on the train. notice the benches...

but the view was beautiful

but the morning sky was beautiful

By 7am we finally reached Bagan. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it. Bagan was too hot and the heat rendered me almost completely oblivious to the subtle differences between the temples. So after two days I decided that it was foolish to whither more days like this and bought a bus ticket to Inle lake which is cooler and full of forest (and only 14 hours away).




please notice the diaper!


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , .

Mandalay Inle lake and Kalaw

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