The 1938 uprising for national independence, widely known as the 1300 revolution in Myanmar’s history, erupted also in Mandalay. During that time, tram companies were hit hard and shut down due to Mandalay populaces’ widespread usage of trishaw (sidecar) , part of the nationalist movement of the 1300 revolution.
At that time, public transports in Mandalay were only horse drawn chariots and trams. There were no rickshaws like in Yangon. A nationalist idea that businesses should be owned by the native ethnics, not by foreigners, grew rapidly among the citizens during the revolution. And people began economic warfare by strong rejection of tyrannical foreign businesses.
‘Trishaw (sidecar)’ was invented.
A new type of transport called ‘trishaw (sidecar)’ was invented, which required no engine and petroleum. It relied solely on man-power since it’s a modified bicycle. Raleigh special bicycles, considered best at the time, cost only 125 kyats. Hercules bikes were cheaper, even as brand new, with the price tag ranging from 50 to 70 kyats.
At around 1938, auto body mechanic from banyan tree bazaar named Sayar Nyo began attaching carriage called ‘trishaw (sidecar)’ to the sides of old bicycles. And installation fee was so small that a trishaw could be obtained by using only 100 to 150 kyats. About 1,000 sidecars flooded the city overnight as it was an affordable amount for Myanmar.
Those ‘trishaw (sidecar)’ could get you to a place where trams could not on the same fare of 2 pyas. For example, a ‘trishaw (sidecar)’ could take you right to your doorsteps where a tram could only get you to nearby tram stop.
Myanandar song by Nantawshayt Sayar Tin
Unlike other cities, Mandalay was not gradually upgraded to a city from a big village. King Mindon chose a flatland plain, suitable to build a new capital, attentively and built the city with grid street plan. That’s why Nantawshayt Sayar Tin praised Mandalay with the lyrics “flat as a drum surface” in his song, Myanandar.
British colonial government
It scarcely has uphill, downhill roads, or low, high street sections. Streets are built with grid system, housings were included inside grid blocks and high ranked officers were relocated there. This resulted in perpendicular roads across the city with equal blocks and loads of spaces between them.
British colonial government built 60 miles-long asphalt roads in Mandalay. Trams covered only 6 miles of those. But trishaw (sidecar) could go around on them, plus they delivered to even tiny lanes where trams couldn’t reach so the people chose sidecars easily over trams. It was hard to believe that the trams companies collapsed because they could not compete with the low-cost 150~200 kyats sidecars.
But it’s a true story. Before going bankrupt, trams introduced a new 3 pae (18.75 pyas) tickets, which covered the whole day and you could ride all you want at no additional charge, as a last straw but failed nonetheless. And they completely went out of business.
Excerpt from “Yadanarpon Mandalay, Mandalay, our Mandalay” by Ludu Daw Amar.
Translator – wths
Memorable trishaw (sidecar) !Harder Than Ever !