Yangon’s “circle line” or “ring train”, circumnavigates Myanmar’s largest city, on a 46 Kilometer, 39 station route that connects Yangon’s satellite towns. The system is heavily utilized by the local populace, selling about 150,000 tickets daily, providing cheap transportation for Burmese and an interesting and engaging cultural immersion for the few intrepid adventurers who hop aboard. The ring train is also a unique opportunity for those interested in “visual story telling”. It costs just one US dollar for foreign nationals and 200 Kyats (about 23 cents) for locals.

Several times a day, the ring train departs from Yangon’s central railway station and slowly proceeds along its three-hour circle route of Yangon, stopping frequently to pick up and deposit passengers on its many stops.

The train cars are old and weathered, not unlike many of the elderly passengers who sit on the hard wooden benches chanting mantras and counting Buddhist prayer beads. Inside the train cars, bits of trash and discarded produce litter the floor. There’s a constant click-clack sound from the iron rails along with conversations and the chatter of vendors who board and de-board, selling all sorts of snacks and the ubiquitous beetle nut that many chew. The windows have neither glass, nor bars, and the breeze that flows through them provides little relief from the stifling, midday, tropical heat and humidity of a late monsoon afternoon in southern Myanmar.

While the ring train lacks any of the creature comforts, it abounds in photographic possibilities. Along with the constantly changing scenery outside, passengers of all ages, shapes and sizes come and go, providing an endless source of photographic inspiration. As with all Burmese, folks on the train are most welcoming and happy to see a “foreigner” among the passengers. All were happy to hear a westerner greet them with a terribly mispronounced version of “mingalabar”, the typical Burmese greeting, followed by a halting, English/Burmese “sign language” conversation. And after such introductions, most were delighted to have their photos taken.

I’ve ridden the ring train numerous times now and in the past I’ve created blog posts about it, even a short multimedia piece (http://karlgrobl.com/blog/2012/08/yangons-ring-train/). My previous blog posts about the ring train have been in black and white, so rather than break with tradition, I’ll present these photos in black and white too. For whatever reason, train trips always look better to me in black and white. Enjoy these 27 images.


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6 Responses to “Myanmar Photo Tour Sept 2013: Ring Train” Subscribe

  1. Digvijay Singh October 16, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Karl great photos…. classy black and white…. this is best train ride for photo shoot…

  2. Catherine Wisner October 16, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Karl, I must return to Myanmar at the very least to take the train ride. I know there is so much more to discover in Myanmar once getting off the beaten path (although there is a goat herder right there in Bagan I love to chase behind). I love the collection of images. They make me feel like I am there.

  3. Erin Wilson October 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, as black + white is my first love, but I’m really curious to see these images in colour.

    14, 8 + 2 are particularly stunning.

  4. Lisa October 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Fantastic images Karl ! I wonder if I can fly through Yangon to get to the PI??? Lisa

  5. Gustavo October 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Hola Karl,
    Hats off to you my friend. As always, beautiful photography. Love it. We have to hook up in the field again. Maybe Philippines in 2014? Cheers, Gustavo

  6. simon January 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Long time reader of yours 😉
    inspider by YOU https://www.youtube.com/v/HKhsQ-NmrSc

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