Browsing Tag

Myanmar

Asia, Burma

Burma: A Country Changing Before Our Eyes

December 1, 2015
A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn't abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

After stopping off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to apply for our Myanmar/Burma visas we went onwards to Yangon, Burma. Arriving two days after the elections had taken place we weren’t really sure what to expect. From the news and the events of past elections there was a chance that there would be unrest on the streets. What we saw when we arrived was the opposite. Landing in Yangon the airport modern. clean and immigration took less than 3 minutes. We didn’t bring crisp US dollars as per the usual long-term advice and didn’t have to. The airport was full of ATMs with the transport concierge then personally leading visitors to a taxi on the street with a fixed honest price. The airport ATMs do however charge fee of ~$20 for each transaction, so having some money when arriving would be handy. ATMs in the city on the other hand charge a much more reasonable~$2. From November 2015 it will actually be easier to pay with the local Burmese kyat rather than with crisp US dollar bills. We didn’t take US dollars or Euros with us and had no issues using ATMs in Yangon or paying with credit card in the city. Depending on how long you’re visiting for and where you’re travelling to, it may be helpful to carry a small amount of US currency with you in case.

Driving from the airport to our B&B we saw a modern city, even at night. The golden Shwedagon Pagoda marking the centre of the city, malls lining the roads with international store including Mango and new models of cars.

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

The Shwedagon Pagoda at night in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

We spent almost a week in Yangon, the former capital of Burma. What we saw was a city changing before our eyes and certainly a country on the precipice of change.  A country full of hopeful people, hopeful children, teenagers, millenials and parents. Yangon has a history unlike any other, with the highest number beautiful colonial buildings, however much in need of TLC, than any other city in the world. Some of these are being restored, however many unfortunately aren’t and are being replaced by modern towerblocks. Bagan to the north is another must-see, with not one but over 2000 temples, some as large as Cambodia’s Ankor Wat. The time to visit Burma (Myanmar) is now, with the country changing each day, the Burma of today will certainly be different to the Burma in the next decade.

A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn't abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn’t abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

 

The beautiful bar at the Strand Hotel. Host to guests including Orson Wells, Mick Jagger (and 2 supermodels).

The beautiful bar at the Strand Hotel. Host to guests including Orson Wells, Mick Jagger (and 2 supermodels).

 

Cocktail at the Strand Bar with expats, visitors and UN workers.

Cocktail at the Strand Bar with expats, visitors and UN workers.

 

Yangon docks at sunset

Yangon docks at sunset

 

A 100-year-old original floor tile from a Colonial building manufactured in...Manchester, UK

A 100-year-old original floor tile from a Colonial building manufactured in…Manchester, UK