Railing Myanmar’s Leisurely Trains is a Travel Treat
PHOTO: Train rails through Myanmar are best described as sleepy. And we could all use a nap. (photo via Flickr/Clay Gilliland)
Taking a train rail 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 mitt.
The Telegraph’s Anna Bracewell-Worrall is one of the latest travel writers to detect the beauty and rhythm 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 tour, 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 rhythm of about 15kph (9.3mph). Our 100km (62mile) tour 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 tempo sets the tone for the entire journey.”
Interested parties can take a virtual tour of this pass through myriad movies on YouTube, which illustrate just how awe-inspiring this particular journey can be.
It would be tantamount to a crime if you whizzed past something this astounding at breakneck speeds.
Bracewell-Worrall proceeds, explaining how eventful this tour can be, with vendors walking the cabin and vegetation making brief cameos across the journey: “The tour is beautiful, hilarious and serene – and we paid five thousand five hundred kyat (£3) for two tickets. This is fairly possibly the world’s cheapest excursion of a lifetime.”
It is not, however, the cheapest excursion you can have in Myanmar.
The Fresh York Times’ Adam Dean recently regaled readers with a similar account of train rails through this nation and also added how its infrastructure lends itself to a remarkably slow tempo: The Circle Line through Yangon is about sixty years old and houses trains almost as old.
Dean also states the trains budge 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 fifteen 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 rail on Myanmar’s narrow-gauge tracks is like going by pony, with the mostly antique carriages rocking back and forward and bouncing everyone fortunate enough to have a seat on the hard chairs – sleep is practically unlikely.”
If rocking back and forward on a rail isn’t your thing, Travel Pulse’s Art Kramer suggests observing the region by its most precious asset: rivers and tributaries. He explained last June what you can expect when eyeing Myanmar by boat. Some of the most glaring advantages are the unbelievable vantage, its calming 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.