As an ex-London commuter I have a deep hatred of all things underground-related  (or ‘subway-related’, for my American friends). Which is why I never thought I’d find myself saying that I love the circle line – albeit that the circle line I now love is a bit different to that yellow thing running around central London.

circle line yangon mum and babies

A women trying to board a moving train with two babies. Not sure the health and safety brigade in the UK would allow this (although for quite good reason in fairness)

Chris and I stopped off in Myanmar on the way home from Cambodia and according to those in the know, the circle line around Yangon was a trip worth doing. So leaving our London-phobic reservations aside we bought ourselves two tickets and hopped aboard for three of the most fun hours we’ve ever spent on a train.


The spirit of Thomas the Tank Engine lives on

circle line yangon ticket

None of that Oyster Card nonsense in Myanmar (with apologies to anyone who doesn’t know the London transport system – in which case lucky you)

The circle line leaves Yangon station every hour or so (seemingly) and for three hours winds its way around a loop of the city. The scenery outside of the windows alone makes the trip worthwhile in its own right. But it is more the comings and goings inside of the train which really makes the journey so memorable. Apart from the fact you may well be the only foreigners in your carriage which in itself makes life a little more interesting, the characters who get on and off the train, and the many and varied things they get up to, make for a fascinating journey.

circle line yangon tammy and boys vertcial

How a window seat should feel (left), and two local boys enjoying the ride (right)

circle line yangon watermelon vendor

A refreshingly fresh buffet car – UK trains, take note

circle line yangon woman newspaper

Catching up on the day’s news

circle line yangon vendors

All aboard – time to start loading the freshly picked produce ready for market

circle line yangon chris

Chris offered to help someone load their stuff onto the train. She then promptly sat down and left him to hold it for the journey, which amused at least one local 🙂

yangon circle line vendors and full carriage vertical

Sometimes it felt more like a market than a train

We also met a 75-year-old Burmese man who told us about his life as a sailor and his trips around the world. In typical sailor fashion when I told him I was German he told me I was very beautiful, in perfect German, which made me wonder how many other languages he might be able to flirt in! He even bought Chris and I an orange each from one of the many train vendors, which considering his meagre pension (the exact amount of which came up in conversation) was such a kind gesture.

circle line yangon sailor and tammy

My sailor friend. He certainly had some stories to tell!

Have you been on the circle line, or if not, what’s your favourite train journey?

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

16 Thoughts on “A journey back in time – and a circle line I don’t hate

  1. I LOVE this. Wow what an awesome train journey! I hope to get to Myanmar soon and I’ll be doing this trip for sure. I love how poor Chris had to hold the woman’s stuff that’s what you get for being a gentleman!
    Stacey recently posted…Celebrating New Years Eve in Chiang MaiMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm said:

      Ha ha, the massive sack you can see in the picture was only one of four poor Chris had to carry actually. I have no idea what was in it. At least it entertained the locals. 😉

  2. I’m yet to try the circle line. Looks interesting.
    James Robinson recently posted…robinson robinsonMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm said:

      It is really great fun. The locals are so funny once you interact with them even if you can sometimes just communicate with hands and feet.

  3. What a nice journey! I love travelling by train and the only trip that seems to be similar to the one you guys had was when we took a 3rd class train in Thailand. It was fun! 🙂
    Franca recently posted…Our Finger-Licking Love For HousesittingMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm said:

      When I still worked in London I used to hate trains because they were always late or overcrowded. However, in my leisure time I love them. It is such a relaxing way of traveling.

  4. I love watching people on trains, this looks like a journey really worth it. I haven’t been to Myanmar yet but would love to one day.
    Freya recently posted…Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014My Profile

  5. Wow! Looking at these pictures, I definitely see what you mean about traveling back in time. It looks like the trains in Myanmar haven’t changed in the decades they’ve been running, and it looks like your little trip really allowed you to experience a local slice of life that people in private cars would definitely miss out on. It’s funny to see that overpacking vehicles is just an Asia thing, doesn’t matter what form of transport you are using!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Mosque Ado About NothingMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm said:

      Ha ha, yes that is so true. If it is not a train that is being overpacked, then it is a moto, tuk tuk or rikshaw. 🙂

  6. thats awesome. I’m going there soon and I’ll have to take the train. What did you do with that lady’s stuff?
    Rebekah recently posted…Western Mountain TempleMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on April 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm said:

      Oh you definitely should. It is so much fun! Chris just helped her get it on and off the train. We still don’t know what it was. It was very entertaining for the locals though. 🙂

  7. LOL he had to hold that bag, I am sure the owner was just a laughing. Sure would be a great 3 hours of people watching!
    Hannah @ GettingStamped recently posted…We’re headed back to Africa | East African Photo Safari 2015My Profile

  8. Well this looks like real life! It reminds me of the time we took a public boat back from Halong Bay, one of the kids on the boat was scared of us! The other enjoyed our Pringles.
    Gemma TwoScotsAbroad recently posted…Do not leave Chiang Mai without trying…My Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on January 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm said:

      Children can be so funny. Most of the times they cant stop staring at me but once I interact with them they start crying. Too funny!

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