Yangon, Myanmar

The Great Capital of Burma (Delusions of the Military Junta aside)


Buddhist Heart of Myanmar
The great pagoda glitters reflected in the water of Lake Kandawgyi.
Safe
A young monk poses next to a religious painting in the Shwedagon pagoda.
Colonial Heritage
Partially isolated from the world due to the rigidity of the military regime, Yangon is one of the cities in Southeast Asia with more colonial buildings.
Buddhist court
Monk from Chauk Htat Gyi monastery has his hair shaved with a razor by one another.
Buddha rested
Reclining Buddha from Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, 65 meters long and 16 meters high.
a moment of faith
Buddhist believers pray facing the great Shwedagon pagoda, the religious fulcrum of Yangon and Myanmar.
The great Shwedagon paya
Faithful and visitors around the broad base of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
good mood on board
A bus assistant has a huge smile at the attention her vehicle attracts from outside photographers.
middle street vendor
Small trader displays his vegetables in one of Yangon's many open-air markets.
Mini Burmese
Baby ventures into one of the many courtyards of the Shwedagon Pagoda where a monk is reading a newspaper.
traveling palmist
A palmist reads a client's hand in downtown Yangon.
In light of Buddhism
Residents of Yangon live the night of the city also illuminated by the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Buddhist curiosity
Baby lurks from inside a room where two Buddhist monks are housed.
the old Yangon
Perspective of Yangon's decaying houses seen from one of the tallest buildings in the city.
private shadows
Young visitors to Shwedagon Pagoda shelter from Yangon's mid-afternoon tropical sun.
In 2005, Myanmar's dictatorial government inaugurated a bizarre and nearly deserted new capital. Exotic, cosmopolitan life remains intact in Yangon, Burmese's largest and most fascinating city.

It was as casual as it was rewarding. The first time we entered Myanmar coincided with the release day of Aung San Suu Kyi, The Lady, as the Burmese like to call their savior.

The people of this shackled country, already gentle and warm, lived then a renewed hope and gave long smiles that the urge to sell the services of guides, handicrafts, souvenirs, whatever, did not seem to affect.

middle street vendor

Small trader displays his vegetables in one of Yangon's many open-air markets.

Like the population of Myanmar, Suu Kyi had been kept, for most of the last twenty-one years of her life, under the corsets of the military regime.

Neither international pressure nor the Nobel Prize status acquired in the meantime shortened the sentences to which she had been sentenced.

At the end of the afternoon of November 13, 2010, we passed, in a taxi, right in front of the avenue that leads to his house. The entrance was blocked by the army but we soon learned how the liberation had gone.

The taxi driver could not hide his joy and resorted to acceptable English to express it: “You look younger than ever. It can't have been just my impression.

When I saw the images on TV, I was moved by her beauty, by that suffering dignity that we have always been used to…”

Naypyidaw: The Emergence of the Ghost Capital of Old Burma

Eight years earlier, the military government had once again upset the people it oppressed with another of its crazy decisions.

About 25 construction companies were contracted to build a new capital from scratch.

Among the Burmese, the belief became popular that, as with many other decisions by military dictators, an astrologer would have warned Than Shwe – the former leader of the Junta – that a foreign attack was imminent.

The warning triggered the process of moving away from Yangon and the sea.

Two gigantic military caravans ensured the transport of government ministries and army battalions to the new capital. The hasty change led to a shortage of schools and various other essential infrastructure.

So, while government workers were already working in Naypyidaw, their families remained for an endless time in Yangon.

good mood on board

A bus assistant has a huge smile at the attention her vehicle attracts from outside photographers.

The new capital assumed itself as the biggest urban aberration in Southeast Asia. In exotic and decadent Yangon, since then, little or nothing has changed.

Yangon (or Rangoon): Wandering through the True Old Capital

We fled from the clutches of a terrible jet lag.

From the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city, we admire its assorted houses.

Made of aged buildings, browned by age and by the rust of the tin roofs, in the style of those in Havana or Calcutta, but from which new colored examples stand out here and there.

the old Yangon

Perspective of Yangon's decaying houses seen from one of the tallest buildings in the city.

We went down to the ground level of Sule Paya Street.

In the middle of the low, we strive to exchange dollars at the best possible exchange rate, never the one that appears in international and official tables.

Soon after, we give in to our anxiety and immediately go to the spiritual heart of the city and one of the most impressive Buddhist temples in the world.

The taxi drops us off at one of the many entrances to the great Shwedagon Pagoda.

We are on sacred ground and, like all visitors, mostly local believers or Burmese pilgrims, we have to enter barefoot.

The great Shwedagon paya

Faithful and visitors around the broad base of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda: The Buddhist Core of Yangon

Inside, the white mosaic floor radiates the strong light of tropical latitude, and the golden glow of the enormous bell-shaped stupa overshadows any other view.

We quickly adapted to the new light and admire the spirituality of the place.

Around it, dozens of faithful direct their prayers to the majestic symbol, alone or synchronized in large groups.

Monks meditate or socialize with each other and with believers in mini-stupas or harmonious sets of Buddha statues.

private shadows

Young visitors to Shwedagon Pagoda shelter from Yangon's mid-afternoon tropical sun.

Later in the day, female faithful volunteer as sweepers.

They form popular cleaning brigades, walk around the stupa lined with raised straw brooms, and leave the temple immaculate for the next day's devotees.

We left the temple to its religiosity and explored other parts of the city. We soon understand that what makes it even more special is the way it integrates into a dense and contrasting urban setting like that of Yangon.

When the sun starts to set we are strolling along the shores of Lake Kandawgyi.

There, we are surprised by the Burmese architecture of the Karaweik floating restaurant, inspired and shaped like a mythological bird with a similar name and a melodious chirp.

In light of Buddhism

Residents of Yangon live the night of the city also illuminated by the Shwedagon Pagoda.

The Shwedagon Pagoda soon regains our full attention. The sun's ball increases in size and falls over the horizon. Then it melts into an even more exuberant twilight.

Gradually, the twilight gives the lake a resplendent reflection of the supreme temple and the Karaweik restaurant, both golden, both lit up against a slightly tropical background under a warm sky dotted with small magenta clouds.

And even when night falls, the huge stupa doesn't stop glowing in the near-darkness of Yangon.

Buddhist Heart of Myanmar

The great pagoda glitters reflected in the water of Lake Kandawgyi.

A Cosmopolitan City where Asia Meets

The next morning, we set out again to discover the city that blesses. Yangon appears in a fertile region of the delta of the homonymous river, in the center of Myanmar.

The more we walk through its damp streets, the more we have the sensation of being in the vicinity of India – which is true – and facing a work of those that was halfway through.

Decrepit buildings succeed each other as private residences or headquarters of ministries. Sometimes interspersed with recent office towers and Hindu temples with gopurams (ornate towers) more eccentric than anything else in the vicinity.

Colonial Heritage

Partially isolated from the world due to the rigidity of the military regime, Yangon is one of the cities in Southeast Asia with more colonial buildings.

Together with the dozens of golden stupas, they form a fascinating urban disorder that shelters the intense life of more than five million people, including Burmese, of the India, Chinese and other South Asian nations.

Around the large covered market building in Bogyoke Aung San, where everything is sold and bought under the blazing sun, side businesses are as or more spontaneous and abundant than in New Delhi or Bombay.

A young palmist reads a lady's hand, installed on her mobile bench, no more than the box of a van marked with large posters that explain the meaning of each line on the palm.

traveling palmist

A palmist reads a client's hand in downtown Yangon.

Markets and Businesses for Every Taste

In the immediate vicinity and all over the place, betel nut vendors keep the stock up to date with the many consumers who frequent their stalls, half-walled with magazines, posters of models and Burmese film stars.

Another of so many streets, this one with shadows lost between centuries-old mango trees and the shutters of windows each in its own color, houses folded clotheslines, a forest of telephone cables and on the asphalt a dazzling street market.

Furniture and ready-to-crack fried crickets, vegetables and fruits of all kinds and fried eggs are displayed in a large form filled with holes to receive them.

street fondue

A street vendor from Yangoon, Myanmar, lures passersby with freshly-fried small kebabs

We walk through this frenetic market through a large part of downtown Yangon, passing by the Botataung pagoda, the many monasteries around, with time to peek at some majestic colonial government buildings.

We only stop at the pier of the muddy Yangon River where part of the population takes boats to Sirion and other villages on the other side, and another relaxes to practice sports or socialize next to the riverside scenery.

Chauk Htat Gyi: New Pagoda, Another View of Burmese Buddhism

New day in Rangoon – as the British settlers preferred to call the city. We dedicate ourselves once more to Buddhism, in the inner parts of the city. We passed the terminal of the old woman train station.

We take a taxi that drops us off at the door of Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda.

More than the interest of the pagoda itself, here inhabits a reclining Buddha 65 meters long and 16 meters high.

“I will go with you and show you everything and take you back to the center. All together I make an irrefutable price!

Buddha rested

Reclining Buddha from Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, 65 meters long and 16 meters high.

The promotion of taxi driver Nyi Nyi Win leaves us disarmed by what we gladly accept. We ended up admiring the superlative Buddha.

As a special favor to the newly hired guide, we also visited the interior of the adjoining monastery where he himself lived when he was little and socialized with the spiritual leader of the community and several other monks.

Including one who is patiently shaved on the outside with a classic shaver.

Buddhist court

Monk from Chauk Htat Gyi monastery has his hair shaved with a razor by one another.

Only Nyi Nyi speaks English. “the monks of this monastery played a very important role in one of the religious revolts against the regime” he informs us with undisguised pride.

In April 2012, Aung Suu Kyi was elected to the lower house of the Burmese parliament. She was chosen as president of Myanmar in 2015.

Six years later, (2021), the strong men of Myanmar have taken over the country again and face the fury of the Burmese people with tear gas and bullets.

The hated military regime maintains its headquarters in the official but surreal capital of Naypyidaw.

Inle Lake, Myanmar

A Pleasant Forced Stop

In the second of the holes that we have during a tour around Lake Inlé, we hope that they will bring us the bicycle with the patched tyre. At the roadside shop that welcomes and helps us, everyday life doesn't stop.
u-bein BridgeMyanmar

The Twilight of the Bridge of Life

At 1.2 km, the oldest and longest wooden bridge in the world allows the Burmese of Amarapura to experience Lake Taungthaman. But 160 years after its construction, U Bein is in its twilight.
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The Plain of Pagodas, Temples and other Heavenly Redemptions

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Mount Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar

The Golden and Balancing Rock of Buddha

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berry, Myanmar

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Inle Lake, Myanmar

The Dazzling Lakustrine Burma

With an area of ​​116km2, Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar. It's much more than that. The ethnic diversity of its population, the profusion of Buddhist temples and the exoticism of local life make it an unmissable stronghold of Southeast Asia.
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An Africa as Wild as Zulu

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Annapurna (circuit)
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The Ancient Nepal of Braga

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Back to the 30s

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Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

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shadow of success
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The Sari Singapore of Little India

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
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Literature
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José Saramago's Basalt Raft

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Nature
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The Caribbean Hideaway of Gandoca-Manzanillo

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autumn in the caucasus

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Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

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Boat on the Yellow River, Gansu, China
UNESCO World Heritage
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The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

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Characters
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The Last Rales of Surreal Mugabué

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Beaches
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Tokyo's Hypno-Passengers

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The Ijen Volcano Sulphur Slaves

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Daily life
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The Malagasy City of Good Education

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Wildlife
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Namibia On the Rocks

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Scenic Flights
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Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

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