Back To The 60s With The Yangon Circular Train Time Machine

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Back To The 60s With The Yangon Circular Train Time Machine

For just one dollar, hopping onto the Yangon Circular Train can be a real essence and experience of local Burmese life. This train is a British built train that connects Yangon to the suburbs and villages in a loop with approximately 46km long and a total of 39 stations. Though it is just 46km, but it requires 3 hours to complete the entire loop. You certainly can estimate how fast this train is traveling daily.

The Burmese children at the rail track

The Burmese children at the rail track

Yangon Circular Train Station Loop

Yangon Circular Train Station Loop

The Yangon Circular Train provides the cheapest mode of transport for low income locals to commute. Embarking on this journey, will definitely expose you to the genuine local Burmese leading a simple life in Myanmar. In my opinion, it is a must-do-activity if you are in Yangon. This train is a time machine, that will take you back to the time in 1960s!

Typical Burmese train station

Typical Burmese train station

Yangon Train Station

Yangon Train Station

The Vintage Train Station

First of all, I really loved the look of the vintage train station, we could roamed around the train station freely. I was fascinated with the fact that I could jump and walk on the train track. (Well, I’m from Singapore so that explain the reason why) Don’t bother looking for the ticket booth or machine, you will be just wasting your time. Tickets can only be sold personally by the ticketing officer at the ticketing office.

Ticketing Office

Ticketing Office

Doing a KJS on the track was simply easy and awesome. A beautiful child was absolutely stunned by my jump. haha

KJS @ Myanmar

KJS @ Myanmar

Everything at the train station is so old school and it brought us back to the olden times, probably the period before you were born. There is absolutely no technology involved in using the train system, even the aesthetic of the tickets was like a vintage collection! In my opinion, wandering along the train platform in Myanmar is more interesting than any other train platform in the developed countries.

You can air your leg on the train

You can air your leg on the train

Something we can't do on most developed countries train

Something we can’t do on most developed countries train

The interesting train station with vendors

The interesting train station with vendors

Vintage train ticket

Vintage train ticket

Hungry? Fret Not

Are you feeling hungry? Don’t worry there are many street vendors at the train station. Beware of what you buy though, I bought an orange soda from a vendor but somehow it turned out to be just pure water in an orange soda bottle! God knows what’s inside the water and where it came from, thankfully I only took a sip. But hey, it was something I expected to happen in a less developed country. Instead of stamping my feet and cry, I chose to smile and move on! haha

Fascinating food vendor in the train station

Fascinating food vendor in the train station

Hopping on and off the train

Hopping on and off the train

Fascinating way of carrying the goods

Fascinating way of carrying the goods

Fascinating way of carrying the goods

Fascinating way of carrying the goods

Perhaps it wasn’t my day for the orange soda, on the flip side, I was definitely lucky enough to discover this hidden gem snack I bought. It was like a big piece of vegetable fritters, good enough to fill my stomach. I really LOVED it! It was nicely stuffed with chili and vegetables. Though it was a little salty, oily and spicy but it tasted delicious. To be honest, I was a little skeptical how hygienic it might be, but I was pretty sure I will be okay, and I was the entire trip! LOL

Nice vegetable fritters

Nice vegetable fritters

Don’t Board The Wrong Train, It Can Be Confusing

Well, you might have your tickets with departure time, date and price indicated. Thing is, you will NOT know where to board the train. Interestingly, we spoke to a few different train guards at the main station, and everyone seems to point to us at various directions and platforms. Thankfully, using my gut feeling (surprisingly I still had it at that point of time after travelling from Philippines, Thailand & Malaysia), we managed to find the right train after numerous wrong attempts at the wrong trains and scrambled like crazy in Yangon Train Station. Opps.

This is obviously not the train we supposed to be

This is obviously not the train we supposed to be

The Uncongested “Luxurious” Train

Yangon has a hot and humid tropical climate, if you ask my opinion whether to go for an air-conditioned or non air-conditioned train what would you choose? My answer will be – don’t bother with the heat and go ahead with the non air-conditioned train. Somehow, not many locals will choose to go with the air-conditioned train, my guess is that it might be too costly for them to commute daily, hence, you wouldn’t be able to see anything interesting. On the other hand, the non air-conditioned train offers not only free fresh air, but there are many interesting things you can see i.e. the local life, the fascinating vendors on board and the amazing rural view without any blocking or tinting from the window screen. That basically sums up the experience you are looking for by boarding this circular train around Yangon, isn’t it? haha Read on and you will realise the differences.

This is the right circular train, finally!

This is the right circular train, finally!

Take a nap, nothing interesting on the air-conditioned train

Take a nap, nothing interesting on the air-conditioned train

Train conductor

Train conductor

Getting inspired by the Burmese life

Getting inspired by the Burmese life

The train driver seat

The train driver seat

Time Machine Brought Us Back To The Life in The 60s

Just like a time machine, I was brought back to the 1960s and was totally amazed by what I saw. It was like watching an old movie with 5D experience. haha The building, environment and merchandise didn’t seems to exist in this era, even the people behave just like in the 60s – demure, friendly, genuine, polite and peaceful. Something, which I never experience on any other trains around the world.

Interacting with the Burmese monk

Interacting with the Burmese monk

Nice shot of a young Burmese monk

Nice shot of a young Burmese monk

Peeping out of the window, (for air-conditioned train there is a thin layer of glass window between you and the beautiful view, another downside of choosing an air-conditioned train) the workers in the village work in the plantations or towns near by. Some have their own plantations, and some make certain merchandise in their homes to sell them in the train stations. A few of the villagers, including women, go out to catch fish in the streams or rivers. Though the people of the village do not usually earn much, they seem to be contented with what they have.

Plantation

Plantation

River stream

River stream

The more stations you pass, the landscape changes drastically from city buildings to paddy fields and then to rustic villages. The further you are away from Yangon, the more passengers the train picks up. This is, after all, one of the main and cheapest forms of transportation for the locals. Your experience gets more interesting and colourful. 🙂

Rustic town in Myanmar

Rustic town in Myanmar

On going railworks

On going railworks

The less privileged children

The less privileged children

The less privileged children

The less privileged children

Rustic building in Myanmar

Rustic building in Myanmar

Monk at crossing the Burmese railway track

Monk at crossing the Burmese railway track

Exciting Adventure Stop At Danyingon Station

The next stop “City Hall Station”, neah, no one is going to announce the station for you. After an hour and a half train ride, a drastic change in the environment just like a change into a climax scene in movies. We alighted in one of the recommended train stop “Danyingon Station”. A local market town where many locals hopped on and off the train with live stocks, fruits, vegetables, spices, products, and all sorts of merchandise you ever seen before. I would crowned Danyingon Station as the most bustling train station cum market I had ever seen.

Danyingon Market

Danyingon Market

The bustling Danyingon Market

The bustling Danyingon Market

Business transaction

Business transaction

Business transaction

Business transaction

Hopping on and off the busy train stop

Hopping on and off the busy train stop

The fascinating local vendor next to the train

The fascinating local vendor next to the train

Danyingon Market

Danyingon Market

It was a little overwhelming hopping off the train as we just had an overload of our senses. We diverted our attention to the tranquil countryside market in Danyingon. Relax a few moment by checking out the market, village and area, trying to blend into the interesting new society to us. I have to admit, we failed caused we were too tourist-like and were simply too excited about the things we saw in Danyingon market! LOL

Trying to blend into the locals

Trying to blend into the locals

Where is our train?

Where is our train?

Sitting on a railway track is something we can never do in Singapore

Sitting on a railway track is something we can never do in Singapore

This is how you do it when buying something from the vendor

This is how you do it when buying something from the vendor

This is how you do it when buying something from the vendor

This is how you do it when buying something from the vendor

My little suggestion: Do bring some sweets or candies for the children. They will appreciate and love you for sure! I always think it is our fortune to be able to give the less privileged than to receive from others. Interaction with the locals was my best take away from this train ride. Wanna see every Burmese smile instantly at you? I’m gonna teach you a magic spell now. The spell goes “Ming Ga La Ba”. Simple and easy way to be polite. haha Don’t worry, it means nothing sketchy but just hello! Don’t be skeptical, it made them smile. At least, it worked for me. haha

The beautiful Burmese child

The beautiful Burmese child

The less priviledged Burmese child

The less priviledged Burmese child

The less priviledged Burmese child

The less priviledged Burmese child

The cute little Burmese child

The cute little Burmese child

The cute little Burmese children

The cute little Burmese children

Will our Singaporean children take a glance at this Burmese children popular vendor in Myanmar?

Will our Singaporean children take a glance at this Burmese children popular vendor in Myanmar?

An “Unexpected” Passenger Next To You

The non air-conditioned train was surprisingly more interesting than the air-conditioned train. Many Burmese ladies sat down peacefully with their plastic baskets eagerly to go home and cook for the family, the elderly peacefully stare out the window seems like in some deep thoughts or prayers, eager vendors walking through the carriages trying to quench the hunger and thirst of the passengers on board and many locals are quick to sit next to you just to strike up a conversation. Many of them put up a smiley and friendly face, but of course with curiosity guessing your nationality. Very likely you will be the only or the few foreigners they have ever had contact with. 🙂

Brother Ryan was fascinated with the seller next to him

Brother Ryan was fascinated with the seller next to him

Hint: The Burmese has a lot of love and respect for Singapore. Many locals dreamed of getting out of the country and work in Singapore or elsewhere, hence an employment related topic is inevitable and common. Nevertheless, Burmese is one of the most genuine and kind people I ever met.

The non airconditioned local trains

The non airconditioned local trains

Probably we felt free and easy on the train, we decided to take our child-like behaviour and be a little playful on the train.

The child-like me

The child-like me

The childish Melano

The childish Melano

The Interesting Vendors On Board

Famished or thirsty? Are you up for a challenge to try the food or drinks from the vendor on board? We saw so many interesting train vendors who were just sitting next to us. My friend bought a packet of biscuit from a lady at Danyingon station the moment the train depart. The biscuit costed her just less than $0.30, a kind local passenger came up to her and make sure she paid the right amount, not an overpriced amount for foreigner, which was very kind of him. The biscuit vendor was chasing after the train to give her the $0.70 change back, we were like, it’s alright you can keep the change, but she insisted in giving back the change to us. This really touched my heart. Though they are poor, despite living in poverty, they did not take advantage of others and earn their living with their own means. That was a valuable lesson learnt in Myanmar. I was truly inspired. Often, the less developed or poorer places will teach travelers better values than developed places. It taught us valuable lessons about life.

Hungry? Wanna try some local delicacies?

Hungry? Wanna try some local delicacies?

The potong Ice Cream man

The potong Ice Cream man

How Many Trains In The World Still Supply Fresh Air?

This is actually my main reason to go for a non air-conditioned train. When everything is so cheap, you won’t believe there’s something else for free. Stand or sit next to the door or window so you can more easily pop your head out for photos and some fresh air. After I gave up my seat for an elderly, I actually stood in the open doorway to get the breeze plus I got to see the sights even better. Just make sure to hang on tight to the hand rails next to the door. Popping our heads out of the window is something we can’t do on the train in Singapore. So, it was kinda cool that we fulfilled it in Myanmar. haha

This was how I do it to take amazing photos

This was how I do it to take amazing photos

Seeking fresh air with brother

Seeking fresh air with brother

Fascinated with the idea that we could stick our head out of the window

Fascinated with the idea that we could stick our head out of the window

The Captivating Burmese Smiles

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. Contentment was what the Burmese taught me from the train ride in Myanamr. It was amazing that many people I spoke to, eye contact with or walked past, they never failed to put a genuine smile on their face. Traveling is amazing, it challenged my pre-dictated values in life and I sort of figure out this quote of my own.

“The less fortunate you are, the more happiness you will get from your contentment. The more fortunate you are, the more greed and desire you will get from your discontentment.” – Keith Yuen’s Quote for Yangon, Myanmar

The friendly Burmese

The friendly Burmese

The friendly Burmese

The friendly Burmese

If you seriously want to see and experience the Burmese life yourself, then you gotta react NOW! As time passes, the time machine will slowly fade according to the development of the country! These simple ways of life in Myanmar, however, will soon change. Progress in education and development has already begun to affect the outlook of the people in Myanmar. Hundreds are leaving the village to seek their fortunes and better futures in the bigger towns and cities. Of course, the Burmese are seeking for a better future for themselves and their family, which is great! Hopefully, they can preserved their values as the country face major changes in economic and financial development.

The locals were curious about us, just as we were curious about them

The locals were curious about us, just as we were curious about them

A glimpse of hope for better future

A glimpse of hope for better future

An old Burmese beer seller looking out of the window for glimpse of hope for better future

An old Burmese beer seller looking out of the window for glimpse of hope for better future

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Mary Ritter Beard

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By | 2018-04-23T20:23:56+00:00 January 19th, 2015|Asia, Myanmar|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. Muhammad Khairuddin Lim January 20 at 5:53 pm

    nice sharing
    Muhammad Khairuddin Lim recently posted…Koniciwa 12 : KobeMy Profile

    • Keith Yuen January 20 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks Muhammad Khairuddin Lim! 🙂 thanks for your encouragement and glad that you like it! 🙂

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