Apparently, this is Burma. I hadn’t known what to expect, but this certainly wasn’t it. As our bus shuttles us from the airport to our guesthouse a light monsoon rain whips across the windows and seeps into the cracks between the windows. It’s dark, so I mostly see headlights streaming by and hear the familiar cacophony of a city at night. I have to admit, it felt immediately more developed than I had expected. It feels like what Bangkok must have been like a decades ago, a bustling city, but devoid of high rises, efficient mass transit, and ubiquitous 7-11s. It is difficult to describe, but truly, it feels much like stepping back in time.
Day one, before a night bus to Bagan, was spent wandering about central Yangon. We started with tea from a local tea house off the main circle where we had to sit with our knees almost in our chests to accommodate the low child size tables and chairs many places have chosen to use in their dinning rooms. We watch the morning drift by with our bitter-sweet milk tea and marvel at the fact that we are, indeed, in Burma. We had debated quite a bit over whether or not to come. Ultimately, with the governments recent progress and lift on the suggested tourism ban we decided to come, and assure out money was spent wisely and put as directly as possible into the hands of the locals, not the government. And after hearing time and again how wonderful a country it is, and often the highlight of a south east Asia tip, I had to come. I feel lucky to be here now, with all the changes taking place it seems an ideal time to see the country before tourism takes hold and changes it.
After tea we simply wandered the dusty streets lined with old colonial buildings, some still showing damage from world war two. It truly is a beautiful city. We found lassi in little India, and weaved through crowded markets with baskets pulled high with mangosteens. A few hour walk around plus lunch at lucky seven tea house was just about as much as we could manage in the upper 30’s heat.
Pictures of Yangon: