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Published: February 9th 2019
One of the beautiful young ladies at Karaweik Palace.
I knew I wanted to go to an entertainment featuring Burmese dancers, and I wanted to ride the oldest train in Rangoon. I also needed to buy a fast charger for my cell phone and a SB port for my computer. I managed to do all these things in one day. As it turned out, the highlight of the day was visiting the electronic street in the city.
People often ask me if I am ever frightened when I am out there in foreign lands on my own. I answer them by saying I am usually too busy trying to figure out what to do next to feel fear. However, on this trip I took a taxi to the Yangon Circular train. This one hundred fifty year old city train takes about three hours to go, “…the whole 45 km, 38 stop loop”. The taxi driver pulled off the road and I saw a lot of people hanging out under an overpass. Suddenly the driver stopped; there was a large bough of a bush across the driver’s window. He said, “Get out.” I looked around and it was really spooky; there was no sign of a depot
YANGON CITY TRAIN
This is a true commuter train. The tracks run through isolated areas.
or a train so I said, “No. I’m not getting out here, in the middle of nowhere.” The taxi driver started pointing off to the right and indicating I should go there. I still didn’t see anything. The taxi driver finally called my hotel and gave me the phone. The concierge said, “This is the way to the train. Now you must walk”. I must have still looked frightened or dubious because the taxi driver got out of the taxi and indicated I should do so also. Then he ducked under the branch and walked a hundred feet. Now I could see the train tracks, with a concrete path on either side. The taxi driver pointed down the tracks indicating a ticket booth. Sensing I was still reluctant, since there was no one else in sight, he graciously walked with me to the ticket booth, arranged my ticket and indicated I should sit on the bench next to the train tracks. He pointed at his watch…15 minutes. “Wait,” he said. I am sure he cursed crazy foreign women all the way back to his cab.
The train arrived and the ticket agent led me across the two rails (scary)
TODDLER WITH PROUD PAPA
Initially I was alarmed with the dog and child near the tracks. The father saw me watching and waved and the family smiled.
and I boarded. The sound of the tracks shifting under the weight of the train created a unique rhythm. We passed slums, shopping areas, abandoned cars, apartment buildings, and young school children in their uniforms. A lady seated opposite me spent the travel time sorting her herbs and vegetables into small bundles to sell in the city. Watching the passengers, I feared I might have missed the city depot. I got off. Too soon. While waiting for another train I watched an adorable toddler dance precipitously close to the rails. His father waved; he was alert to the hazards.
With additional information I was prepared when the train stopped at my destination…well almost prepared. Somehow my bundles were all in my dominant hand and I grabbed the bar to exit with my weaker hand. I nearly fell to my knees. I guess as I get older my legs get shorter.
I took the stairs to street level, eyeing all the neon signs on Baho Road: Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Mitsubishi, etc. I entered the first electronic store I saw. I explained to the clerks what I was looking for and they shook their heads sadly. Not deterred I took
TAKING A BREAK
I enjoyed sharing my photos with Pur and Mur.
out my computer and showed them the port and they found the USB adapter I needed. There was doubt that my credit card would work, but I assured them it would handle local currency. I asked a clerk for directions to a shop that sold fast chargers for LG phones. She offered me a seat and a bottle of water and spent twenty minutes locating a phone store for me; then drew me a little map.
Unfortunately I had to cross the street. I found a local man to shadow and made it safely to the other side. After two failures to find what I needed, I bought some beans and corn off a street vendor and made my way to yet another shop. Success! The salesman, Pur, offered to charge my cell phone and my Kindle while I finished my snack. He sat with me at a small table and looked at every photo on my phone. He seemed to be neglecting his customers and I feared he would be reprimanded. Sure enough, another man appeared and grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him, then leaned down and grinned. It was his uncle or cousin, Mur, who
RECEPTION DESK AT KARAWEIK PALACE
I loved the brocade and gilt, and these young men were very kind.
sat down and joined us.
It was getting dark and I had a reservation for the gala (dinner and a show) at the Karaweik Palace, so regrettably I had to leave. Mur stopped a taxi for me and I was on my way. I paid an entrance fee for the park on Kandawgyi Lake. The grounds were beautiful and people strolled on the walks, picnicked on the grass, and whole families bicycled and played games as dusk fell. I should probably have come earlier to see the park, but I really enjoyed my afternoon, so no regrets.
There was a fifteen minute wait for the box office to open and I took some photos of the outside of the barge. Everywhere there was gold paint, fanciful artwork, and flowing fabric. Inside the tables were set with linens and an appetizer plate waited at my table. I was seated at the front of the hall, only fifteen feet from the stage and the buffet feast was conveniently close. The actors and actresses, musicians and puppeteers wore beautiful costumes, and the emcee educated and entertained us in English. To teach us the Burmese dances, he demonstrated twenty five careful poses
At the main entrance, these gentlemen looked dashing in their uniforms.
in slow motion. Then he said, “If you wish to dance, there are an additional twenty five routines for just this one dance.”
The only problem with the event was trying to refill my plate without missing too much of the performance, which continued throughout the meal.
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