Many of the worlds big cities have an expansive metro system and a so-called ‘Circle or Loop Line’ with a variety of stations or stops that circumference the inner or outer metro areas. Moscow, London, Paris, Berlin and Beijing are all famous for this type of transit system, but the most unique and authentic one can be surely found in Yangon, Myanmar.
The Circle Line in Yangon consists of 45.9 kilometres of track via 39 stations, which form a loop around the capital connecting its satellite towns. The system is heavily utilized by the locals, selling about 150 000 tickets daily and providing cheap transportation.
A ride on this train provides a window into the daily routine of the Burmese people and allows experiencing the true essence of local life, travelling for three hours through the city’s rural landscape.
Myanmar’s British-built railways are less developed than others in Southeast Asia and jumping on this train at Yangon’s train station feels like stepping back in time: handwritten train schedules, passenger lists listed in old paper books, aged platforms and colourful, rusting antiquated trains.
Along with the constantly changing scenery outside, passengers of all ages and social groups come and go: local ladies with their plastic baskets, monks and nuns peacefully staring out the window, eager food and drink vendors wandering the carriages, children with thanaka painted cheeks, market sellers with bundles of live chicken and food – the traveller’s senses will surely be on overload when watching the commotion that takes place along the route.
The lack of mass tourism due to its military regime has preserved Myanmar way more from westernisation than its neighbouring countries, making it one of the most interesting places to visit now, though already being at a tipping point for the optimum time to travel.