Yangon opens up to the world
When an opportunity came to visit Myanmar, formerly Burma, I did not hesitate to book the next available Singapore Air flight I could find. I know so little about the country and I am traveling solo so I booked a trusted carrier just so I have less to worry about. Also, I decided to stay overnight in Singapore to process whatever experience I’ll be having in Yangon and Bagan before flying back home.
There is a part of my experience I want to keep to myself but most of it I want to share because the people of Myanmar are probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and once in their midst you are reminded of something we often neglect - the virtue of kindness. The place is also known as a time capsule of British Colonial treasure and if you visit soon you will get a glimpse of that and also a good view of the transition into the new.
Buy some jewelry or local artworks at Scott Market. You’ll be surprised at the array of food choices. The Chinese buffet at Summer Palace in Trader’s hotel was comfort food for me. Another favorite was the quiet lunch at Acacia Tea Salon.
Taxi is cheap at $2 to 3$ across town but I was lucky enough to have my own car and driver so I was also able to drive by Aung San Suu Kyi’s house at University Road and also drop by their old home now the Bogyoke Aung San Museum in between planned stops.
There is no nightlife so it is best to wake up early and get it on right away. After all you will better appreciate the architecture in broad daylight. Among the highlights are the Law Courts Building, Old Yangon Railway Station and The Strand but snap away because the city is filled with architectural finds whichever way you point your camera.
Visit Shwedagon and Sule Pagoda. More than being magnificent structures, it will give you an insight on how its people are and how they live. You will find monks not only in the pagodas because they are all over the city. I don’t know but spotting one immediately puts me in zen mode so imagine seeing them everywhere you look, the zen simply stays with you.
Motorbikes are not allowed and yet peak hour traffic is still chaotic and I can only assume it will get worse as more and more car brands are coming in. This, however, did not stop me from cycling around the city during those hours. Somehow to be in the middle of the craziness is something I want to feel.
It is still best though to explore during odd hours. Observe the locals chew on betel nuts under the trees inside Maha Bandula Park. Stroll along Inya Lake or linger at the Sailing Club. I chose to read a book while enjoying a leisurely lunch at Signature of The Garden Bistro with a good view of the Kandawgyi Lake.
Myanmar has a lot to offer which is probably the reason why Rudyard Kipling once said that it is unlike any land you know about.