I've taken the Yangon circular train almost ten times and I'm never tired of doing it. Such is the dynamism and purity of the best way to know what was the capital of Myanmar until the Burmese military board, advised by astrologers, decided to take such honor to the central, and deserted, Naipyidó.
No matter what city appears on the political maps as the capital of the country, Yangon remains the engine of the Burmese economy and urban life.
A colonial and Burmese station
Yangon Central Station © David Escribano
Yangon Central Train Station is the largest and most important in the country, being the main access door to the more than 5,000 kilometers of roads that branch throughout the territory.
Built by the English, in colonial style, in 1877, was destroyed in 1943 by themselves, when the bloody events of World War II forced them to prevent it from falling into the hands of Japanese troops.
Its reconstruction, in clear Burmese style, would be completed in 1954, being declared as one of the most interesting points of the city in 1996.
Today, the Burmese government works with a Japanese company for the modernization of the country's railway, and that is why stop the journey made by the circular train is under construction. Changes for the better. Or not.
The circular train: a life train
Yangon is considered by tourists as a city of passage. Most international flights, whether from Europe or Asia, usually land here and in the face of humidity and chaos, the majority choice is to flee as quickly as possible.
Yangon circular train © David Escribano
However, for one who has some patience and knows how to look further, Yangon is a fascinating city.
To the most spectacular and sacred pagoda of Myanmar (and of the most renowned in Southeast Asia), Shwedagon, we must add the sunsets on Inya Lake, the vast park of Kandawgyi, the colorful Chinatown, the colonial buildings of Pasondan or the magnificent, and colonial, Strand hotel. Just to name a few things. There are also options for nightlife and a street environment difficult to match.
But without any doubt, The best way to soak up the true life of Yangon is by taking his circular train.
The best time to take it is early in the morning, when Burmese are moving to their jobs, universities, schools, markets, etc. It is not a tourist train and, in fact, you will see very few Westerners in it (especially during the low season, which coincides with our summer).
The old blue train starts at 8 am and I get on it by the hair. Sometimes there is a kind of beep that warns of your departure, but in the rest of the stations that mark the almost 3 hours of travel they will not give you any signal. That is why they advise not to get off the train under almost any circumstance. Although it starts at a ridiculous speed, it is not difficult to stay grounded by a mistake. Anyway, there is no drama, because you just have to wait for another train to run the circular route and get on it.