Sunday, 9 March 2014

Day 215 - A Day in Yangon

After hearing only good things about Myanmar and having a very good first impression when I arrived yesterday, I was looking forward to see and experience more of Yangon.

The first thing you notice is how busy the city is with a lot of traffic, it's loud and there are people everywhere. After spending that much time travelling around Asia, a lot of the bigger cities can feel similar but Yangon feels quite different.
One thing that was definitely different was that there were no motorbikes and very few bicycles on the streets, this seemed odd as motorbikes seem to be part of every city in Asia. This of course meant there were way too many cars and buses on the streets so the traffic was almost as bad as in Bangkok.

While I've never been to India, I think Myanmar kind of has a similar feel in some ways but it's quite distinct in other ways.
The people are very friendly as I noticed at the airport and during my brief walk in the evening but despite all the hustle and bustle, people are always smiling or saying hi and are happy to help you out with directions if you need.

The city itself seems like a mishmash of different architecture styles (and states of decay), of different religions with pagodas, mosques and churches but it also feels quite modern with electronics, computer and mobile phone shops everywhere. You can feel that a lot has changed here in a short period of time thanks to the country opening up more.

At first I planned to visit some of the pagodas but the entry charge of $3 per pagoda, $2 to enter a park and so on meant I gave most of them a miss. It seems the government is keen on making as much money on tourists as possible but this is just way too much money to spend to see yet another pagoda. Like me, you're probably better off to get your temple and pagoda fix in Thailand for fee before coning here and only going to see one or two of the most important pagodas.

I did manage to sneak in to the Kandawgyi Park for free and it was quite nice, especially just before sunset. Although I was happy I didn't have to pay as $2 seemed too much for this.

While I had planned to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda in the evening, I decided to leave this for my return to Yangon and instead take some more photos of the night life in the city.

The evening has people eating at small street food stalls, hanging out and watching movies at beer stations, socializing in one of the many restaurants and kids playing in the streets under neon lights.

It was a very interesting day in Yangon and I can already say that Myanmar will be one of the most memorable places on my trip and one I will want to come back to, despite only arriving yesterday.

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