If I had all the time in the world, I would travel by train to everywhere. The rhythmic crank-rumble sound from the tracks and the movements of the train can get quite soothing. Being on a train allows me to see the scenery passing, and I am less likely to be car-sick on a train. I can stick my head out of a window and get food. I see people getting on, people going on their lives and people getting off. A train can be used as a metaphor for life, no?
One not so sunny day in Yangon, I boarded a train on the Circle Line. This journey took me slightly over 3 hours. A passenger can either choose to go in a clockwise direction, or an anti-clockwise direction. The span of time between trains is about 2 hours. I remember seeing a train at 8.40am, and 10.10am. Do schedule this trip early in the day in case you miss all the trains for the day.
To find this train, one has to know where the Yangon Central station is located. Next, this person has to find platform 7, and this is not as straightforward as it should be.
The Yangon Central is located on Bogyoke Aung San Road. The obvious entrance is not the one you should be looking for. The obvious entrance leads to trains going to other cities. To find platform 7, walk towards this bridge located near 38th Street:
You need to get on this bridge. Walk away from Ruby Mart. There might be a huge crowd moving towards you. Walk to where they came from. Soon, you will come to this:
Look slightly confused, and one of the staff will point you towards the station office on the middle of the platform. You can get a round-trip ticket from this office for US$1. I was not asked to show my passport but I was asked to write my country of origin on the receipt.
I was ushered to a carriage with 4-seaters. I heard that it might be better to be in the carriage with side seats, but I liked my carriage. Side seats may make me carsick, which is not a pleasant experience to have in a foreign country.
This was mainly a sightseeing trip. During the 3 hours I was on the train, I saw people move in and out of the carriage. On their way to the market. On their way home. On their way to the main part of the city. It seemed as if I was the only stationary one on the train.
Somewhere between the 2nd and the 3rd hour, the train arrived at a market. It was so colourful and full of bustle that I woke up and began taking pictures.
I was amused by vegetable hawkers selling vegetables beneath my window.
The Circle Line is such a big part of the lives of Yangonites that they put their laundry on the train tracks to dry. It does make sense, since the train tracks were hot from the sun. There is no need for an iron!
This train ride is good if you wish to see how life in Yangon is like outside the main part of the city. I am not sure if I was allowed to get off the train but I did not want to risk this in case I had to buy another foreigner ticket to get back on the train.
I might consider getting on this train in a decade, to see how much Yangon has changed.