Monday, 9 June 2014

Another view of Yangon

Central Yangon is a bit of an anomaly in Burma - there's a lot of wealth concentrated in the city (it sometimes feels like every fourth car is an SUV) and much less visible poverty than other areas of the country (not the least because of government policies of tearing down slums and moving the poorest of the poor out of the centre).

To get a broader perspective of the city, I'd recommend taking the circle line train. It's a 2.5 hour loop up to the North end of the town and back down, and passes all variations of Yangon life. You'll see big houses behind barbed wire fences, and nearby houses that are little more than shacks: woven reeds with chickens running around the dirt yard, or a fenced in pigpen holding one or two pigs.

The train gets very busy with commuters during the week, so I'd recommend taking the trip on weekends.

Fruit sellers seen from the Yangon circle line train
Selling limes alongside the train
  • Train platforms covered in market traders selling fruit and vegetables, or snacks for our journey (cut up mangos or quail eggs). 
  • Large numbers of people just sitting around or lying in the shade of the platforms, or sitting on the tracks, using the train route as an informal living space.
  • Young men playing a volley-ball type game on make-shift dirt courts, their longyis tucked up around their middles to resemble over-sized nappies.
  • Women washing standing up at the communal pump outside their homes – they wrap themselves in a sarong that covers them from breast to knee, then grab water in a bowl and dump it over their heads. 
  • A monk doing his laundry from a bucket alongside the train tracks, then draping over a washing line to dry. 
  • Laundry left out to dry on the gravel alongside the train tracks, weighted down with stones.
  • People sorting through mounds of recycled plastic by the side of the train tracks, using any available bit of land for making a few pennies through hard drudgery. 
  • A child, naked from the waist down, squatting and going to the toilet alongside the tracks.
Using the train tracks as informal living space

Shacks in the North Yangon suburbs

1 comment:

  1. Great idea - letting the local train act as a tour guide. Am enjoying your Burma posts - one more onto the to do list... Cheers, Christian