Yangon circular train

Recently, I went to Kamaryut by circular train from the Hledan station which is just a few minutes walk from home. I expected a long wait and was prepared to take a bus if there is no train within half an hour. Luckily, as I was asking the ticket clerk about the next train to Kamaryut station, he replied that it was due and as I heard the train coming from the right direction, I quickly bought the ticket and was surprised to find that it cost only 10 kyats. Later on, I was more surprised to learn that the ticket covers the distance from Hledan station to Okkalapa (the minimum bus fare is 50 kyats for a portion of the route).

I quickly got on the train and there were few passengers on the coach and it was an easy ride to the next station. The coach is quite run down but still of newer age than the ones I rode during the 1960s. There, I asked the 2 next trains back before I went to my parents in law house and returned in time for the first train, but it was late and when I got on the last coach, it was crowded. However, crowding on the circular train is nothing compared to the buses and the MRT in Kuala Lumpur during office hours. There were the usual vendors too: betel and cigarette vendor, grapes vendor, fried snacks vendor, indigenous medicine vendor_the usual scene without which a ride on the circular train would be incomplete.

Back at the Hledan station, I noticed KyweKawThee vendor, children’s toy vendor, fast food vendor, kitchen utensils vendor on the platform and in front of the ticket counter and there were also other food shops near the station beyond the rail tracks on the far side. I had walked and enjoyed the view at the Hledan station many times in the past while I accompanied Pyone to her clinic which was situated nearby.

I have not taken a ride on the circular train for a long time and this recent trip brings out childhood memories when I attended the St. Paul’s High School. We lived at the Ahlone railways quarters at the time and our house is just beside the Mission station. My brother and I attended school by circular rail when we reached the 5th Standard. We had to get up and be ready for the 06:03 train. If we missed it, there is a 06:15 train. The next train is too late for school which begins at 07:00 and we had to be in class in time after a walk from the Central station.

School is over by noon and we walked to the Central station and took the 12:40 train or the 13:08 train. Sometimes, we walked to the Scott market for haircut or some purchases and took the second train from the AhLanPya PhaYarr Lann station there.

There were many friends who went to school with us:

Zaw Tun Maung lived near the corner of the Ahlone road and Fytche / Baho road and was our classmate. We played football together but I was not good at it. He later became a dentist and is now in the USA.

Kyaw Khine who also lived in the Ahlone railways quarters and moved to my school after it was nationalized and became the State High School No. 6, Botataung, from the SHS 1 Dagon / English Methodist High School. He was our school goalkeeper. One day after school, as we were waiting for the train to leave, someone pulled his KhaBonSa and his school longyi dropped down. Instead of picking it up, he called the prankster back to pick up his longyi and waited like that for a few minutes until the prankster had to return and pick up the longyi he had pulled down. Kyaw Khine later became a seaman.

Myo Thaike Tun who lived at the corner of Forest road and Mission road and used the Gymkhama station. He became a trader and sold medicine and I met him frequently after I became a doctor. The last time I met him was at the wedding of my niece about 5 years ago.

There were also others from other stations_Hume road / Hone Lann station and Kemmendine stations_ and schools including those from SHS 1 Latha who got on the train at the AhLanPya PhaYarr Lann station but they were not close.

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