Riding Myanmar’s Leisurely Trains is a Travel Treat
Posted on 06/29/2017
Taking a train ride through Myanmar seems to cover all manner of the travel spectrum. It could be plodding or romantic, depending on your general outlook and time on hand.
The Telegraph’s Anna Bracewell-Worrall is one of the latest travel writers to discover the beauty and pace of this southeast Asian country.
Traipsing its expanse is a wonderful, soul-satisfying endeavor. Doing so by train, however, takes some time.
Bracewell-Worrall explains that she may have even found the world’s cheapest trip, one that takes place by train but could very well be accomplished by foot—that is if you can string a few marathon runs together:
“Trains chug along the historic and beautiful Shan State Goteik Viaduct at a comical pace of about 15kph (9.3mph). Our 100km (62mile) trip from colonial hill station Pyin Oo Lwin to the trekking base of Hsipaw took seven hours. But when you’re moving at the speed of a light jog, nobody’s counting, and the sleepy pace sets the tone for the whole journey.”
Interested parties can take a virtual tour of this pass through myriad videos on YouTube, which illustrate just how awe-inspiring this particular trip can be.
It would be tantamount to a crime if you whizzed past something this astounding at breakneck speeds.
Bracewell-Worrall continues, explaining how eventful this trip can be, with vendors walking the cabin and vegetation making brief cameos throughout the journey: “The trip is beautiful, hilarious and serene – and we paid 5500 kyat (£3) for two tickets. This is quite possibly the world’s cheapest trip of a lifetime.”
It is not, however, the cheapest trip you can have in Myanmar.
The New York Times’ Adam Dean recently regaled readers with a similar account of train rides through this nation and also added how its infrastructure lends itself to a remarkably slow pace: The Circle Line through Yangon is about 60 years old and houses trains nearly as old.
Dean also states the trains move at a speed akin to a light jog and notes that some people have taken to boarding and disembarking while the massive locomotive is still moving.
The Circle Line is also inexpensive, costing just 15 cents to go around it once. Cost and egregious traffic on the streets mean many have revisited trains like that on the Circle Line, which is planned for a facelift by 2020, via the N.Y. Times.
Lonely Planet also paints a lazy, languid picture of train life in Myanmar: “A train ride on Myanmar's narrow-gauge tracks is like going by horse, with the mostly antique carriages rocking back and forth and bouncing everyone lucky enough to have a seat on the hard chairs – sleep is practically impossible.”
If rocking back and forth on a rail isn’t your thing, Travel Pulse's Art Kramer suggests seeing the region by its most precious asset: rivers and tributaries. He explained last June what you can expect when seeing Myanmar by boat. Some of the most glaring advantages are the unbelievable vantage, its relaxing nature and the immediacy you have to locals.
However you go, things are not exactly frantic in Myanmar. Essentially, bring a book or two and be content with life at its most leisurely.
PHOTO: Train rides through Myanmar are best described as sleepy. And we could all use a nap. (photo via Flickr/Clay Gilliland)