Wow have I got a deal for you?! 3 hours of entertainment for 20 cents…
If you are in Yangon and are wanting to get off the increasingly beaten tourist path, to see how the people live, a 3 hour trip on the circular Yangon Circular Railway is a great way to do it.
Get a taxi for 3000 kyats ($US3) to Yangon Station. Head to the left hand side of the station building, past the security guards and to platform 7 (not 9 and 3/4).
At the ticket booth on the platform ask for tickets to the circular line (make circle signs if it helps 😉). We arrived just before 9.30am and were told we could take the aircon train at 9.30am or wait for the normal train at 10.10am.
Cost – 200 kyats, around 20 cents. I think the aircon train would cost more but I am not sure how much. I really didn’t want to have to take out a second mortgage for that or more likely give up that soft drink at dinner, so we decided to wait for the normal train and sat and watched the people going about their day. The train arrived. The tourists aimed for the first carriage. We went to the second one and went with the locals.
For the first part of the journey you pass through the suburbs of Yangon, stopping very briefly at each station. Passing buildings, shacks and slum like areas. Then you start to get into more rural areas.
At one particular station we stopped and through the windows, fresh produce started being thrown in the windows and the carriage rapidly filled with huge mountains of produce from the market and a large number of locals, mostly women.
As our journey continued, they sorted and processed their goods for later sales. Over the next two hours at various stops, people loaded up their own goods at the windows and then it was a team effort to get them unloaded at the right, brief station stop.
Through all this, at each station on came the sellers and hawkers of various goods – newspapers, pirated DVDs, corn on the cob, iceblocks and a woman selling tofu salad that was very popular. She looked like she offered about 3 options from her tray of items. Cost appeared to be around 200 kyats and it looked great, but we didn’t like to risk our sensitive western stomachs (wimps!).
This was an interesting trip and worth the time it took. I think at hotter times of year, the aircon train might be a better option, but late December or January, the normal train is fine.
Take water and maybe some snacks and remember there are no toilets onboard… and perhaps a cushion. My arse was numb by the time we got off from the hard plastic seats.