The Yangon, (Rangoon), circular – a local railway line not a 6 lane ring-road or an underground line – does a loop from the city’s main station through the inner city, suburbs and outlying villages, before returning to the station some 3 hours later.
It’s a local train for local people; wooden seats, tiny fans, stopping every 500m, but an absolutely fascinating insight into local life and ‘behind the scenes’ Yangon.
Foreigners aren’t a common sight on the train which caters to commuters, school kids and students, shoppers and market-goers many of whom use the line to take goods to or from the several local markets that lie alongside the route.
So chances are you’ll be sharing your carriage with a half ton of leafy vegetables!
In fact the train itself ends up resembling a travelling market itself with vendors and customers hopping on and off and snack or noodle sellers hawking their wares up and down the carriages. All fascinating stuff for us visitors and a great insight into the everyday life and less visited sites of Burma’s largest city.
Also goes without saying it’s a great way to meet the very friendly local people, try a few local delicacies and get a few interesting pix of local life.
Had a few problems convincing our guide when we enthusiastically informed him we absolutely wanted to include a ride on the train in our upcoming Burma itinerary!
“But it’s not really suitable for tourists…”
Well there’s no air/con”
“Nevermind – it has fans doesn’t it?”
“Yes but only wooden seats”
“Good – will encourage people to move around a bit then – mingle”
“..and no tourist class – they will have to sit with the local people”
“That’s the idea!”
“…but maybe busy, noisy, crowded…”
“Tour groups don’t usually do this…”
“Perfect – you’ve sold it to me!”
So hopefully it’ll provide an exceptional and unusual morning trip and break down a few tourist barriers! Yes, there’s a $1 fare to be paid to the state railway company so we’ll make sure to buy a few snacks, drinks and kilos of leafy vegetables from the locals to compensate!