If you have been listening to the news over the last couple of years, it has been an exciting time in Burmese politics. Small democratic steps have been made towards opening up the country for tourism in addition to foreign investment. However, these progressions have been challenged by religious-based conflicts in different regions of the country. Regardless of the on-going politics, I always wanted to make my trip to Myanmar one to remember. Fortunately, it was everything I anticipated.
First Impressions of Yangon
Before stepping foot in Myanmar, I always read about beetle-nut and how the locals love to chew it and then paint the streets red. It took only a few minutes in Yangon to confirm this claim. Another highly journalized claim is that the Burmese love to wear their traditional attire. This too was proven only minutes after arriving by taxi from Yangon International Airport (RGN) to the city center. The vast majority of locals walking the streets in the downtown area of Yangon wore kaleidoscopic sarongs and aged sandals that immediately caught my attention. Witnessing someone with a shirt, tie and blazer combination was atypical to say the least in comparison to other cities that I visited before. After I unpacked my luggage, I quickly set out onto the streets to see what daily life looked like from a foreign eye. Almost every corner of the city appeared to have fascinating beetle-nut stands and tiny food vendors. Tourist oriented restaurants were few and far between. Those that I found were mainly in the more elite hotels in the central core of the city. Needless to say, tourists looking to find convenience stores, grocery stores and suitable restaurants will be burning some calories to do so.
Strong Necks and Warm Hearts
Walking the streets in search of tourist-friendly food in Yangon may seem like a bad thing, but it turned out to be an excellent educational experience. The locals, although traditional and reserved, wouldn’t hesitate to smile when I asked for the price of their commercial goods such as used books, laminated maps and hand-carved business signs. As I walked past the Sule Pagoda at the center of the downtown area I couldn’t help but notice the sheer number of locals carrying different things on the top of their heads. I was truly fascinated by their unwavering posture during that steamy afternoon; so much so that I decided to capture different shots of the locals throughout the downtown area to demonstrate how their daily routines have been resilient to the influences of globalization. Bogyoke Aung San Rd., Anawratha Rd. and Mahabandoola Rd. were just a few of the streets that I observed. Regardless of what you think about the Burmese government, the people of the country have warm hearts and will welcome you with a bright red beetle-nut smile.
Want to find the cheapest rooms in Yangon?
Yangon is one of those cities that you should definitely book in advance (and you need to do your homework to find a nice area of the city). Try using hotelscombined.com – the world’s best price comparison website or booking.com – the world’s largest accommodation provider. We often use www.agoda.com to book our rooms due to their massive selection in Southeast Asia and their collection of verified guest reviews. These sites will give you the freedom of choice with the best available prices in Yangon.