Observing Yangon life from the circle train line.

Off the back of this week’s TWIP (the week in photos) theme of “Myanmar Transport” here’s a photo essay of a trip on Yangon’s Circle Train Line. It’s a three and a half hour long train journey that takes you through and around the city, offering a peek into the daily life of those who live in the city outskirts. The trains are quite weathered and for a measly $1 it will take you on a slow and bumpy journey past past twenty seven stations.

We were quite rushed getting to the Central Train Station and the train was about to take off when we arrived. Spotting the odd looking tourists rushing down the steps, the attendants instruct us to jump onto the yellow carriages as they hand us our tickets. This was in fact the “tourist” carriages which were carriages with the normal forward and back facing seating arrangements, with oscillating fans above for those who wanted a more comfortable ride.

At each stop, locals of all walks of life hop on and off, vendors sell snacks to passengers such as green mangos sprinkled with a smoked chilli powder and kids will sell water bottle refills. Everywhere you look at each station there are people escaping the heat, napping on shaded benches whilst the market stall owners will scurry to fit their massive loads of produce onto the train before sudden jolt of the carriage signals its impending departure.

In hindsight, it would have been a better idea to have hopped off during a scheduled stop and boarded a local carriage which only had seats along the sides of the carriage which provides a myriad of options to view the hive of activity that goes on in the everyday life of a Yangonian. The other benefit being able to purchase food and drinks off the vendors that jump on and off between stops as the doors between the tourist and local carriage was locked.

A ride on the circle train line is a must. You’ll get a better sense of place, see first hand the grunginess and poverty at  distance at a slow moving pace and as usual, have varying degrees of interaction with locals. It’s not the most comfortable ride you’ll take in Myanmar, however it’s something you’ll eventually learn to cope with over time throughout the country and there’s a sense of charm and truth about the whole experience and the people who exchange smiles or conversations with that you’ll find endearing.

yangon central station

A dash to the Central Station after striking up a conversation with a local just outside.

yangon central station circle line

Trains are scheduled to leave every thirty minutes according to one site and forty five minutes based another. The best bet is to arrive and hope for the best. They will try to usher you onto a tourist carriage but if you want to get amongst the action I would get on any other carriage.

yangon central station circle line

Lots of curious children will come up and playfully stare at you. Pulling faces and smiling back usually gets puts them into a giggle state.

yangon central station circle line

A vendor waits to board the train to sell food. Sometimes people would just call out from the window and they would run over and perform the transaction at the window.

yangon central station circle line

The setup in the tourist carriage isn’t setup for any form of interaction with others. In face it’s easy to fall asleep as the train rocks from side to side with your head resting on the head rest.

yangon central station circle line

You come to see these signs everywhere, but I don’t know how much friendlier the locals can get.

yangon central station circle line

Jennifer catching some air along with most of the train

yangon central station circle line

There’s so much happening along the countryside as the train rattles along the landscape. Rivers, apartment complexes, golf courses, the airport – the scenery constantly changes.

yangon central station circle line

It gets quite hot in the carriage and many people catch any bit of wind that they can get. The people here seem to have an ability to nap at any time of the day

yangon central station circle line

The children seem to wave and smile at every foreigner that they see

yangon central station circle line

Just like most other places in Asia, wherever you go, the mountains of garbage is inescapable.

yangon central station circle line

Sleep – anywhere and at anytime.

yangon central station circle line

Shoppers with their market haul about to board the train.

yangon central station circle line

An autistic girl at the front of the carriage kept playing hide and seek with me.

yangon central station circle line

This monk was happy to pose but I like this photo best.


Comments

Observing Yangon life from the circle train line. — 2 Comments

  1. Just FYI: We did the Circle Line Train on June 6, 2014, and there was no tourist car (maybe because it was low season?). We purchased our ticket on the train platform and the attendant told us to pick any place we wanted on the train. The cost was 300 kyat ($.30ish).

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