A trainride from Yangon to Mawlamyine

Back in Yangon

At first glance, little has changed. Yangon struggles to catch up with decades of military dictatorship. This succeeds in breathtaking speed. Meanwhile, it is an advanced metropolis and in the same breath with Bangkok, Saigon or other major Asian cities to call.

But there are still the little corners that defy the progress a bit. And give a little breather at this insane pace. Mostly located around the major attractions, it is easy to slow down and enjoy the light and mood.

Definitely a must see is the Shwedagon pagoda in the evening. This golden light, this mood of hundreds of candles, the immediacy of tradition and modernity, the awkward ringing of the bells, the pagoda’s power and the melodious singing of the choirs make you look and feel astonished every time.

The express

But I’m here for something else. Yangon will be my starting point to the south of Myanmar this year. In just eleven hours I’ll take the express two hundred kilometers to Mawlamyine.

Yes, bikes are faster.

But it is the slowness that constitutes the intensity of this kind of traveling. The landscape, bathed in hard, sunny light, passes at a devout speed. Sitting at the open window, listening to the constant singing of the sales assistants, such a trip is preferable to any visit to the cinema.

The beauty of the landscape comes from your reduction of vegetation and the mysticism that civilization offers. The monk in the middle of a field; the clouds of smoke over the evening roofs; the awkward attempts to put the new bike into operation; the golden domes on the green slopes.

Pure voyeurism and poetry.


After eleven hours, the rattling rhythm of the overrun sleepers stops abruptly. The goal is reached. It is a bit difficult to get active in sofa-like upholstery after this long time. To drive on the hard back seat of a nearly unpadded scooter into the approaching night and say the colors of the day “good-night”.