Straight from Siem Reap in Cambodia we went to the old capital of Myanmar — Yangon. Myanmar opened up for international visitors just recently and is not yet on the to-do list of the usual South East Asia tourist (give it one or two more years!). Therefore it offers a very unique and untouched atmosphere and culture, which makes it a fantastic country to visit.
That Myanmar has a special charmé becomes visible right after leaving the airport of Yangon. It’s right hand traffic, but the steering wheel is on the right side as well giving the driver less oversight. There are two reasons for this, first Myanmar changed just a couple of years ago from left hand traffic to right hand traffic and that most cars are imported from Thailand. There are rumors, that the change to right hand traffic was because a fortune teller told the president that he will die if they stick left hand traffic. A first taste of the extreme buddhist country, which nevertheless is packed with ghosts and fortune tellers, country of Myanmar.
From our hostel in Yangon’s China Town we started to randomly discover the city by foot. While walking through the with life busting streets of Yangon, the inheritance of the british colonial times are visible everywhere. Beautifully decaying British colonial buildings dominate the streets and give a hint how the city might have looked like 100 years ago. I’m a big fan of “getting lost” in a city and we were also able to cross off some of the usual sights like the Sule Pagoda.
The next day we walked to THE sight of Yangon — Shwedagon Pagoda. The pagoda is huge and completely covered by pure gold. The gold was donated throughout hundreds of years by people, who came to visit the pagoda and pray. After absorbing the atmosphere and almost getting blinded by the shiny pagoda. We headed to some random place for lunch and afterwards we just randomly strawled around in the area around the pagoda. Right before sunset we went back to the pagoda to see the pagoda in dusk and later on the dark. The atmosphere, while being more crowded, is even nicer in the dark than during the day.
Exhausted after a long day we went to a local food stall to refill our energy depots. We obviously chose the wrong one — a couple of hours later the first one of our group started to throw up and the next one followed him the next morning. Getting food poisoned in Myanmar is unfortunaly quite usual and not an exception. I had never a problem with street food in other countries, but Myanmar is an exception. Better bring some meds and be careful where you are eating.
Because of the casualties our last day in Yangon before we headed to Bagan was rather unspectacular and we enjoyed ourselves by strawling through the streets of Yangon. A city with an unique charme and definitely worth a visit.