Waiting for the train to Mandalay

Physical discomfort. I have enjoyed plenty of that at times these last nine days in Myanmar.

Riding on the back of a motorbike on a whole day exploration around Mandalay from 7am to 6pm. Sore bum.

Waiting about four hours for my train at the station in Thazi, in the heat with barely a breeze and only plastic platform chairs to sit on. And too tired to read. Dirty and sweaty.

Waiting for the train at Thazi, this guy kept me company for half an hour

Now that I think of it, these were actually the only two times I remember really feeling the discomfort.

And the motorbike wasn’t even that bad, as I was having so much fun.

Sure, there have been plenty of other times I have felt so hot that the sweat has drip-drip-dripped off my nose and chin, and soaked through my t-shirt. And the first few nights when I could hardly sleep weren’t the best of times. But there were really just those two occasions that I really noticed it. And it was only while waiting for the train that I seriously questioned whether I had made a good decision. In that case the choice had been to cut short the minibus journey from Inle Lake to Mandalay just to travel for 3 hours on a Myanamar train, knowing there were several hours at Thazi in between. Once I was on the train, I was glad, and I soon forgot about the previous discomfort.

A monk travelling by train to Mandalay

The rich green seat covers. The light green curtains flapping out of the open windows, creating a view that felt to me like an old movie set, with the scenery superimposed outside as it bumped past. The vendors walking to and fro along the aisle in case anyone needed water, hot drinks, snacks, tabacco or chicken curry. The villages and towns visible only by their artificial lighting once night had fallen. The occasional illuminated pagoda or giant Buddha on a hilltop. The people waving green lights to the train driver to indicate level crossings were free of traffic. The dragonflies and moths flitting in and out of the carriage through the windows or the open door at the end. Leaning out of that door to watch the passing villages and lakes and then the growing buildings as we approached Mandalay. The monk having a sneaky cigar in the vestibule near the end of the journey. And the motorbike taxi driver who jumped on just before arrival and found me to offer a ride to my hotel; and then told me about his family as we zipped along the city streets with my backpack balanced between his legs. And finally, the warm welcome and clean cool shower that I had known would be awaiting me at Dreamland Guesthouse.

What was that about discomfort? I forget.


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