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Ordinary Class: Hipstamatic Images from Yangon’s Circular Railway

All Eyes On Me: As a blonde, western woman, I stood out from the crowd on Yangon’s Circular Railway.

The Circular Railway in Yangon, Myanmar is a commuter train that connects the city to the surrounding suburbs. To ride the train with the locals is a fantastic glimpse into everyday life of the Burmese People. You need to have a local guide escort you– the schedules are too confusing to navigate yourself.  Fortunately, the staff at The Strand Hotel hooked me up a local guide who showed me around. While there was a First Class car, I rode in the Ordinary Class Green Car, which was the class of service used by the locals for their daily commute.

I sat next to a young girl who hadn’t seen a iPhone before and kept asking me to show her my images in between shots. When I showed her my captures, she kept giggling. While I missed an opportunity to shoot during these moments, the interaction was priceless and sort of a great example of where Myanmar is at the moment. Opening up and curious, yet (at least for now) still very much sheltered and off the grid.

Visiting the Circular Railway I was very taken by the Burmese people. They are friendly and completely not jaded by cameras. While a few people smiled for the camera, most of them simply went about their business. No one asked for money for posing, nor did any of them flinch from my lens. While I had my DSLR with me, my mobile images are the ones I like the best. Because this commuter train is off the tourist grid, documenting it as unobtrusively as possible felt the most natural.

I shot these images of Yangon’s Circle Train using Hipstamatic. The simulated analog vibe of the app seemed fitting as a way to document the environment in Myanmar (which seems itself caught a bit between the analog and digital age). I liked the the Jimmy Lens + DC Film combo gave me some results that captured the dusty realness of the place.

Portrait of a Ticket Vendor (shot with the Jimmy Lens + DC film). Tickets on the Yangon Circular Railway cost $1 USD.

The Waiting Room

The Smoking Car In Myanmar, the train conductor had no problem smoking on the job

Wheeled baggage isn’t popular in Burma. Instead large, heavy loads are balanced on their heads.

Scenes from inside Green Car

A watermelon vendor aboard the train

This young Muslim boy stood out in a country of Buddhists.

Women Commuters on the train gave me a glimpse into a life very different from my own.