I rode this train about eight years ago on my first trip to Burma and have since yearned to indulge in a bit of masochistic nostalgia. I had my chance last month. This time I got my friend there to book me a sleeping berth on an overnighter, departing at 3 pm from Yangon’s atmospheric central station and arriving the next morning in Mandalay at around 6.30 am – an almost 17 hour-journey to cover a distance of 432 miles. It is not the cheapest ( and certainly not the easiest) way to travel between the two main cities but for the chance to take in a voyeuristic view of Burma at 40 km/h from a bum-banging and metal-clanging seat a train journey is the only way to go. I can now say I have done it twice and the third time would only happen if Burma bans all domestic flights over its airspace.
Sleeping with Monk : my bedside companion giving me the Clint Eastwood look as the train rolls slowly out of Yangon
One of the few main stops on the journey north. This one is at Bago (Pegu) where we arrived about half hour before sundown.
Little boy at the platform kiosk in Bago
The best place on the train – my seat and table in the dining car
The rice fields look deliciously lush even in dull monsoon weather
At dinner time it can be hard to find a free table in the dining car.
A train attendant taking his meals at Taungoo a former royal town of some size situated at about one third of our journey to Mandalay
Some things are better in Burma in the bad old days. 3 in 1 coffee and tea, known as coffee mix and tea mix, have replaced universally the original and traditional brews.
Someone’s backyard in the outskirts of Mandalay