The ticket that the station manager said “Gone” is still available from the black market! Isn’t it surprising? However, you had to pay two times the actual price. I was really angry. Well, what could I do? Too bad for us, as we, grandchildren of Grandpa, got only ordinary class tickets. I used to travel this train trip in the past, and I knew how bad the ordinary class was. However, what could we do? If there were any cancellation of ticket from one of the VIPs, we might be able to get one or two tickets. I don’t understand what VIP really means. (Translator’s note: here the author was sarcastic about the term VIP or Very Important Person). In the countries where I had been, there was no such thing like this. Other members from my group offered to buy an upper class ticket for me, but I declined. We were traveling in the same group and I didn’t want to be the only one who was traveling in style. If we had to suffer, we suffer together. That is my motto.
So finally, we left Mandalay on a second expressed train bound for Myitkyina, at 5 PM in the afternoon. The story started here. On the train full of passengers, there was not a single space for us to put our feet down. A lot of passengers were on the train. Not only passengers; there were a lot of luggage under our seats. Some passengers were standing in the aisle, some sleeping below us, some sitting on the bags. They had no tickets. A few conductors came and checked tickets but none was arrested for riding without a ticket. How strange it was! May be the conductors just felt pity on these ticketless passengers. That was what I was thinking. On the other end of the carriage where I could not see from here, I heard somebody said “Hey, there are a lot of you’re here. This is too little”. Another voice said “I am not the conductor. I am the carriage guard. Give me also”. I did not know what these voices mean. May be, just asking to see the ID card.
We bought 12 seats. We had to sit two on each seat. The seats are wide so we offered to share our seats with those without seats. Eventually, the seats became very cramped.
The train stopped at one station after another. There was no passenger leaving the train. Only more and more passengers boarded the train. Now, I realized the Burmese proverb “If your fit your head, you will fit your body” was really true. So much horrible smell form so many people and things made me dizzy and nauseated. My close friends knew I had a psychological avulsion against human smell. However, what can I do? I became a pig so I should not be afraid of shit. (Translator’s note: here the author was referring to the Burmese proverb “If you are a pig, you cannot be afraid of shit”). Soon, I felt something crawling on my body. I tried to see what was causing this itchiness. To my horror, there were hundreds of bed bugs on the seat! I was shocked by this scene. I felt a sudden chill down my spine. I felt like the bugs looked at me, who used the torchlight to look at them, in disgust. Since young, I was scared of bed bugs. I hate the bug as well as the smell. As soon as I knew there are bed bugs in the seat I was sitting, I could not sit still any more. Things became worse when I got one bed bug from inside of my trouser. Finally, I had to put old newspapers on the seat and stand up. Others seemed to ignore the bugs and kept on sleeping. I could not sleep the whole night on the train. I was bitten by so many bed bugs. Fortunately for me, HIV cannot be transmitted from bug bite. Otherwise, we would have to check our HIV status every time we ride a train.
Original Post by Nyi Lynn Seck at Wish Grandpa to take a train trip.