The Circular railway of Yangon, welcome to the crazy train

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I like train and most of the guide are saying that taking the circular train around Yangon is a good way to discover the city and its inhabitants, so I thought ok let’s do this !

The circular was build by the British and makes a...circle around Yangon or actually was making a circle, they are improving the lane so some stations are closed and currently you cannot do a full circle.  The trains are old Japanese train, with a lot of Japanese’s signs that weren’t remove, there is no A/C, it’s quite slow (or very slow), the line is around 50km long and it took me 4 hours (the cashier told me 2 hours) for 200 kyats (13 cents?) to make the whole trip, was it worth it ? Yes ! Was it too long ? Yes as well ! 2 hours would have been perfect for me but maybe because of the construction it was really slow.  

Now let’s speak about the journey ! 

 

Where

I started from the central station of Yangon which is very close to Sule Pagoda and the Sakura Tower.

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The price is pretty fair with only 200 kyats (13 cents more or less), you will have to buy your ticket directly on the platform (for me it was platform number 7 but it could change I guess). The train is pretty small with 4 cars, some are old “upper class” and some regular class, there is no A/C anyway but I would advise you to go to the upper class because you can see easily the outside from the seats while it won’t be as easy in the other coaches (windows in your back). If the upper class coach are full don’t worry after a few stops you will find a spot easily. 

The train is pretty hard to get into, no steps and quite high so if you need it ask for some helps, once inside the journey will quickly begin so what can you expect to see ? People, commuters, merchants of food, drink, strawberries, cigarettes (there is a no smoking sign but I am thinking that it was a Japanese sign as I have seen quite a lot of people smoking including some policeman), but what is the most surprising is the life outside the trains and on the tracks. People walking from a place to a other, workers, but mostly open market settle on the tracks. 

Biggest market on the tracks in the station of Danyingon, picture took from the window of the train 

Biggest market on the tracks in the station of Danyingon, picture took from the window of the train 

All the pictures of this day around Yangon, if you have a bit of time it’s definitely worth it !

Doi Inthanon National park, Thailand

I just visited Doi Inthanon national park in Thailand. This park is located in the north of the country around Chiang Mai and I am thrilled to introduce this park to you. 

Firstly how to get there and what can you excpect to see ? Personally I took a tour from Chiang Mai for 1200 baths that included the trip (around 2h of drive to go there), the ticket entrance for Doi Inthanon (200 baths for foreigners), lunch and a guide. During the day I will see two waterfalls, some tribes, drinking real coffee that is harvested in the park, going at the top of the biggest mountain of Thailand (spoil alert, bring a pull or a coat) and finally be charmed by the beauty of Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon.

 The first waterfall : Wachirathan Waterfall

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This waterfall is very close to a parking lot, it would take you around 2 minutes to walk there on a paved walkway, it’s possible to climb a bit to get closer to the waterfall or to go on the right, take some steps and going down to the bottom of  Wachirathan. I chose to do that in order to get some pictures, the walkway bring you close to the water but not near of it so I had to jump above the barriers to be as close as possible from the waterfall, it’s quite easy and seemed safe to me, however it can be different during the rain season and the rocks are slippery.  

For those shoots I used a tripod and a -10 Nd filter in order to make a long exposure with 3 bracketing and 3 focus point. 

This waterfall is huge and despite the dry season the water was very strong, my guide told me that it was over 60 meters tall. Definitively one of the high point of interest of my day.  

 The second waterfall : Sirithan Waterfall

 

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For this waterfall you will have to walk a bit more but it’s still very close to the parking lot with good steps that are regular and not too high. You will arrive on a platform made of wood that allows to see the waterfalls from a distance (50 meters more or less). I tried to find a way to get closer but the path is only through the jungle and with a heavy slope. On the platform it could be a bit tricky to use the tripod if they are other travelers because it’s quite shaky, I activated the anti shake option of my lense for this time to compensate and use my bag as a weight on my tripod. 

Sirithan is very nice too and I loved the fact that it was possible to see the different steps of it even if I would have love to get closer and shoot from those nice rocks that we can see at the bottom. 

 The tribes : 

After that we went to see the Karen, it’s a tribe that you can find in the north of Thailand but also in Myanmar.  As they lived in this region since centuries they can still live in thee national park where they live from agriculture and tourism, in the villlage that I saw there are nice modern houses but also old huttes to exhibit how they lived before. 

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This woman is tailoring some scarfs and shirt, it seems to be completely handmade with the assistance of old tools that I cannot even named in French. From my understanding woman with colorful clothes are married while the one wearing white are single. I don’t know how long it took to make one cloth but It seems pretty long to me. 

After, we just walk for two minutes to see and try the coffee that they harvest in the valley. I was thrilled when the guide said Arabica, I love Thailand but I really hate their coffee it’s in my worst two with India. If you go to a regular place or buy one warm coffee in 7/11 , your coffee will be mixed with chocolate,milk and sugar, it’s not that bad but I drink my coffee completely black, no sugar, no milk, just me and my coffee, so after two weeks without a real coffee I was quite excited. 

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 Their of doing is quite artisanal (while I am the master of the nesspresso machine)  but just the smells were happiness throw to my face. 

After that we went to a market where they were selling fruits, nuts, souvenirs and...coffee <3, as before there was only women, I think that’s because the men are working in the field. They had pretty traditional clothes but seems scared by the time passing. 

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I bought some dry fruits there, mango, banana, strawberry, cherry (I think) it’s pretty good and it will be a nice snack during the drive back to Chiang Mai. 

Then we took a nice and good lunch (specially the fried chicken) and finally went to the top of the mountains to see : Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon.

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The location is composed of two pagodas, one for the queen (the one we see in the picture) and one for the king (in my back). There is also a beautiful garden with a lot of flowers. To go there I will advise you to take some clothes, it’s quite cold around 12 degrees, specially when you are switching from the 30+ degrees of the valley and it’s very windy, I had to put my tripod quite low and add some weight to avoid to see it hitting the ground.