Our final stop on our trip to Myanmar was Yangon, the biggest and former capital city. We stayed at Ocean Pearl Inn for $30US per night for a double room with private bathroom. It was perfectly adequate but quite a long walk from the city centre in the heat!
Yangon is a fascinating city. On one side of the road you have old, crumbling colonial English buildings, and on the other side there would be a stinking market full of fresh fish, meat, vegetables – you name it, they’ve got it. The blend of the old and new is interesting, and we suspect Yangon will look quite different in the years to come owing to the amount of building work we saw going on.
We spent a large portion of our time in Yangon wandering the streets. The traffic is chaotic there due to the banning of motorbikes a few years back (apparently a high-ranking military official was involved in an altercation with a bike), so there are only cars, buses, and trishaws. Try imagining Bangkok or Hanoi without bikes! Street life in Yangon is a big part of the culture – people sitting on the sides of the road in makeshift tea houses next to buses belching diesel fumes, little old ladies huddling over their deep fryers next to makeshift markets selling vegetables.
The most revered Buddhist site in Myanmar is located in Yangon – the Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s the biggest temple in all of Myanmar, which is quite a feat! The pagoda is beautiful, we saw it at sunset and it was shimmering golden as the sun went down. Photos don’t do it justice!
Catching the ferry over to Dallah on the other side of the river was fun, the ferry was full of locals and their chickens, and the town of Dallah was like stepping back to the villages we saw on the trek! Lots of livestock and kids running around – it was really worthwhile.
We really enjoyed Yangon, with its contrasting blend of the old and the new.
Myanmar was an amazing country to visit – we are so glad we made the decision to travel there. The people are what make the country a fantastic destination – they are so warm, gracious, and happy to see tourists visiting their homeland. Myanmar will surely undergo significant changes in the next few years as it tries to catch up with the rest of the world – make sure you visit before the charm wears off!