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Riding the circular train in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) – part 1 of 2

By on March 30, 2015 in Myanmar/Burma

The Circular Train is an interesting way to see Yangon. It is the ‘locals’ transport and by taking it you get to see the ‘real’ Yangon (Rangoon).

The train goes from platform 7, which is over the bridge at the far left hand end on the main railway building. Platform 7 is the last platform at the end of the bridge. However, having waited on a train that I thought would be departing at 10:10 am, and was still there at 10:25 am, I finally asked if I was on the right platform. I was sent to a small office where I was told a train, with airconditioning, would be departing in 10 minutes from platform 2, and the one I had been sitting on would leave at 11:45 am. So, the guy in the ticket booth in the main part of the station doesn’t seem to know which train goes from what platform, and to where it goes.

I bought my ticket from a guy in an office on platform 7 and headed over to platform 2. The ticket cost 1000 kyat (US$1; £0.65).

The waiting area in the main part of the train station.

Pots stacked on the platform….

The train I thought I was going on, the 11:45 am.

Inside the 11:45 am…. No aircon, no windows, no doors… Like the ceiling fans.

The train…

I was kind of disappointed not to be catching it as it looked like it would be an incredible experience.

As I walked on to platform 2 the 10:25 am Circular Train, with air conditioning, pulled in to the station.

The train had carriages with air condioning, but at the end of the carriage the exits to the platform didn’t have doors so that mean it was possible to hangout of the train, and to take photos with no glass getting in the way… Although there was the risk of getting hit in the face by a tree…

There is a rather casual approach to railway safety in Yangon (Rangoon) and people can be regularly seen wandering up and down the tracks and crossing the lines. At stations it is quite common for people to get on and off the train on the non-platform side of the train. In one case I saw a guy in flip-flops do a ‘running dismount’. As the train approached the station, on the non-platform side of the train, he ‘flared’ out in a star shape (left hand holding on to the rail, left foot on the running board) from the side of the train and then dropped to the ground and ran. Quite impressive.

At most stations there is a mad dash to get on and off the train. There is no hanging around and the train will pull out of the station as people are still joining or leaving the train.

The views from the train are interesting and there are a surprising number of shacks dotted along the track.

One thing that is quite depressing, and alarming, is the amount of rubbish that can be seen from the Circular Train. It is staggering the amount of discarded plastic that can be seen littering the banks and choking the waterways.

The train is heavily used, and this was outside the peak hours.

And despite all the rubbish along, and beside, the tracks there are also a number of farms that looked to be exceptionally well kept.

FourSquare: Yangon Central Railway Station

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