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One of the best ways to mix with locals in Myanmar is to take a local transport trip. My first experience of this kind was on Yangon’s circular train that takes a trip arround the old capital’s suburbs.
Although there is one train every hour in the morning we arrived early to get the most out of locals daily lives. Yangon train station is so rich with people that we actually missed the first train (also because we were on the wrong platform) while getting along with them.
The people that we met looked really poor, many of them wre barefoot and some looked like they lived there at the station. Others were wandering arround the rails trying to find waste that could be useful for them. What continued to amaze me was their constant smiles, which even the authority forces embarked.
What you see on their cute faces is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It is very popular in Myanmar and had been used by children and women for over 2000 years as a sunscreen and skin smoother.
The trip itself is a long one, taking almost 3h and stopping constantly to pick up and drop the locals. When the train is not crowded one is free to wander arround and I even sat on the entrance stairs to have a better look outside, since it has no doors! Somehow everyone must spend their time the best way they can, and a few guys liked to pop their heads out and enjoy the view (I did it too).
When the train starts to get crowded, foreigners are advised to sit by the carriage policeman. These guys wear their usual daily clothes and look like everyone else, chatting and chewing betel. On busier stations they wear their policeman shirt and eventually their belt with handcuffs and go out (sometimes through the window) to check that everything goes smoothly. The following are the two policeman that sit next to me.
Along the trip the diversity was wide and the subjects kept as interesting, so here is a couple of photos from people waiting for their trains to arrive.
The next post will be focused on the impressive Shwedagon Paya, so keep watching this space =)