For just one US dollar you can experience the true essence of local life in Yangon as you travel for three hours through the city’s rural landscape. While Yangon is a fast-paced, chaotic city to get lost in, riding the Circle Line train provides a window into the daily routine of the Myanmar people away from the commercial centre of the country.
I immediately knew I had to get on board.
When you arrive at Yangon’s Train Station, train guards will immediately point you in the right direction of the tourist ticket booth as you pass through the aged platforms, rusting antiquated trains and families sleeping rough on any spare space available.
With handwritten train schedules and passenger lists listed in old paper books, sitting in the office is like stepping back in time as your vintage looking ticket is neatly inscribed and you are walked across the tracks to the appropriate platform ready for the ride.
The carriage rocks and rumbles as you slowly make your way through 45.9 kilometres of track via 39 stations which form a loop around Yangon. Stopping at each and every station for only a minute or two, people clamber on with only seconds to spare, lugging on more belongings than you can squeeze into an average sized car boot. The train returns back to Yangon’s city station before making the same journey over and over again throughout the day, until the early afternoon.
The more stations you pass, the more the landscape changes from city concrete to paddy fields and rustic villages, and the more passengers the train picks up. This is, after all, one of the main and cheapest forms of transportation for the populace.
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