Yangon: Circle Train

16.781557, 96.161225

This is not on anyone’s sightseeing list and you need a local guide to help figure out timing, as the train runs on a somewhat erratic schedule. Making the loop from downtown Yangon, into the outlying suburbs and ending back in downtown, you get an incredible overview of the lay of the land and local life.

When I went, the excellent team from the Orient Express’ Governor’s Residence arranged for my group to take the train for about 20 minutes (ending in the outskirts where a bus picked us up). Within minutes of leaving central Yangon, the train runs through impoverished neighborhoods, its residents boarding with luggage and lifestock and squeezing into the compartments already filled with young and old, monks and locals. Vendors maneuver through the rattling train cars (stripped except for two wooden benches running along the sides), selling snacks and fruit. Locals did a double-take when they saw us visitors boarding but everyone tried to make room for us on the benches, a lovely gesture rarely seen in my New York City subway back home.

Written by Simone Girner

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