A Three Hour Tour by Lee Cohen on Exposure
The Circular Railway is a local commuter rail network that serves the Yangon (previously known as Rangoon) metropolitan area. It extends over 28 miles, and serves 39 stations in a loop system.
The railway has about 200 coaches, runs 20 times and is said to sell 100,000 to 150,000 tickets daily. The loop, which takes about three hours to complete is heavily utilized by lower-income commuters, as it is (along with buses) the cheapest method of transportation in Yangon. It is also a way to see many areas of Yangon.
The circular train stops at each and every station for only a minute or two, forcing passengers to quickly clamber on board, with all sorts of luggage and belongings. It returns back to Yangon’s city station before making the same journey over and over again (about 20 times) throughout the day.
The young boy seen on the cover of the Exposure gallery (above) has his face smothered with thanaka; a cream made by ground bark, and used by the Burmese for over 2000 years. It is known for giving a cooling sensation, and for providing protection from sunburn.
Lee Cohen has taken the Circular Railway and narrates his experience. He also does not recommend tourists buy the more expensive air-conditioned train/cars, which the locals do not ride. The worthwhile experience is to rub shoulders and interact with the locals who ride the cheaper cars.
Lee Cohen has been working on educational issues around the world for the past ten years. he has a background in policy, monitoring and evaluation, creative and non-fiction writing, and documentary photography.