My favorite part about travelling is getting a glimpse into the lives of people all around the world – where they live, work, play, and pray. Learning about culture requires more than walking through a museum or taking a generic tour. Sean and I have found that the best experiences come when we fully immerse ourselves into the daily lives of the natives. For a peek into the local life, we hopped on the circle train to ride the 2-3 hour (28 mile) loop around Yangon.
The railway is the cheapest mode of transportation in the city, costing us only 200 kyat (less than 15 cents US). It mostly serves lower income commuters and is typically void of any tourists. In fact, Sean and I were the only tourists on the entire train. We found a place on one of the carts and made ourselves comfortable.
The coach quickly became a moving market as hawkers walked back and forth throughout the carts selling everything from fruits, vegetables, and snacks, to cigarettes and sweet treats. Locals would jump on and off the train (because it never stopped for more than a few quick seconds) squeezing into any open spot on the benches. There were times when Sean and I had plenty of space to stretch but most of the time we were the filling of a sweaty Burma sandwich.
We rode for almost 3 hours – past rural areas, city streets, and rows of shanti-like houses. While we received quite a few stares, they were all accompanied with friendly smiles. This simple train ride to nowhere turned out to be my favorite excursion/outing in Yangon – and it cost us less than a dollar!