Our final day in Yangon we took a trip around the local railway. We'd heard from others and read online that it's fun and cheap. At 300 kyats it definitely was cheap, and we thought it was quite fun!
We started from the central station but you can start from anywhere. Both directions are possible and they both go all the way around so there's not much to screw up as long as you have enough time to finish the loop. It takes a bit less than three hours.
On the train we found ourselves greeted by many smiling faces. I think people are always happy to see tourists in a place that is dominated primarily by locals. We didn't take too many photos and just enjoyed the ride. Here's the path we took (counter-clockwise):
We initially sat across a little old lady who we smiled at warmly. Her smile back was unforgettable; she was just beaming. She offered us some oranges that she bought on the train and although our language barrier was 100%, we could see that she liked us and it made us feel nice.
We had fun watching two sisters battle over a cob of corn for almost an hour, with the little one finally getting her half after much coaxing from the mom for the big sister to share. She also peeled her own quail egg and chowed down on it. We wanted to take a photo with them but they were too shy.
Much like the third-class train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, this train (dubbed "ordinary class") was full of locals carrying a broad assortment cargo. On every stop, people would board and start hawking their wares, from fruit and corn to newspapers and DVDs. They would quickly walk along shouting their offers, then hop off once the train got moving again.
Most impressive was a woman carrying a large plate of sliced watermelon on her head. She sold many pieces, with the train moving pretty quick by the time she finished. No matter! We saw her casually step down and a moment later we were passing her as she walked calmly on the sidewalk, not a single hint of imbalance as the watermelons remained perched on top of her head.
As we got to the northern side of the loop the city thinned out and we saw a bit of the countryside. There were many fields of vegetables, but none were familiar enough to identify.
In this area the train seemed to stop only momentarily, with people throwing their bags through the windows and (dis)embarking while the train was still moving. No one acted like it was unusual one bit.
Eventually we came back around to downtown, and we hopped off about two stops before the central station to make the walk back to our hostel a bit shorter. It was a fun day of people watching, and I'm sure the others on the train had fun watching us too!