A train ride is one of those places where people meet, when some get on and some get off. A great way to watch people and experience local life in a country. In this case in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar.
Yangon railway station
The Circular Railway is operated by Myanmar Railways. This 49.9 kilometre 39 station loop system connects satellite towns and suburban areas to the city. To complete the loop will take about three hours. Besides visiting religious sites, sacred stupas and impressive colonial architecture, this train ride has become an attraction as well. I can see why. It offers a break from the chaotic streets in the inner city. It is cheap and provides a great opportunity to see the outskirts of Yangon and watch daily life at the same time. Because it only takes three hours to complete the loop, it is still possible to plan to do other sights the same day.
Stop along the track
My tour started and ended at the Yangon Central Railway station,which was built by the British in 1877 and also the largest in Myamar. I bought my ticket here, at a price less than an american dollar for the whole three hour loop. The train leaves several times a day, but I chose to do the early ride, leaving the station at 08.30. My plan was to avoid the hottest hours in the midle of the day. But also because I wanted to visit the Swedagon Paya in the late afternoon and stay there in the evening.
A vendor at one of the stations
On board the train we started the slow, bumby ride to make the loop. I do not know what I expected. Comfort is not a priority! The carriage has open doors and windows – a natural aircondition actually! The benches were quite hard if you are going to sit all the way! But you won't do that. Standing by the open door at the back will provide great photographic opportunies, watching the locals walking along the track.
As the train moved forward, passing station by station. the concrete buildings of the city was left behind. Open fields, farmland and villages appeared. Local people get on and off a long the way. Vendors too, selling newspapers, snacks and fruit. At the stations some will approach the windows and try to sell their goods.
Vendors with bundels of vegetables
Getting ready for the market
Even people got on and off it was not full at first. After a while it became more crowded. Not only with passengers. Sacks and bundles of baggage were brought in, leaving no place empty on the floor. Somewhere close to Yangon main station, vendors entered with a bunch of vegetables. In a hurry they found a seat and started to cut and bundle the vegetables ready for the market. Our carriage both looked like a vegetable garden and smelled like one! It was very fresh. When they got off at the station just before the main station, the vegetables were bundled and ready for the market. That was a really effective way of spending the time on the train..... facinating to watch how they worked.
After about three hours we were back where we started. Both the station and the Circle Line itself, looks like a piece of the past. The carriages look as a reminiscent of bygone times. The tracks are overgrown and the stations looks run-down. The speed is almost walking pace – a slow ride indeed. Still, a most enjoyable journey with no dull moments. There is something to look at all the time. I had no destination to reach, The journey itself was my destination.
The Yangon Central Railway station
Hope you enjoyed the story, have a great weekend :)
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All the photoes are mine, Ulla Jensen (flickr, Instagram and facebook)