Long-time readers may know that Mommy was born in Burma, a.k.a. Myanmar. She hadn’t been back since 2003, and Daddy had never been there. So when we moved to Singapore a couple years ago — Singapore being just two hours or so by plane from the Yangon, the capital — we put Burma high on our list of places to visit.
Or rather, places to visit eventually, since Nyan was not yet three years old, and we thought he was still too young to subject him to a very, very developing country.
By earlier this year, we decided it was time. Phwa Phwa was visiting Myanmar for a few weeks, so Nyan, Mommy and Daddy popped over for five days. It was a pretty amazing place. (Editor’s note: the names Burma and Myanmar are used fairly interchangeably. There’s a deep history behind what each particular name means, which we won’t try to go into here. For sake of consistency, we’ll call it Myanmar from here on out.)
Let’s start off with a look at random scenery from around Yangon. We should note that it’s a fascinating place, filled with gorgeous old buildings and friendly and helpful locals, but it was also run by a military junta for many decades. A lot of urban amenities — like closed sewers and organized traffic flows — just don’t exist. Keep that in mind as you look at this first batch of pictures, which, yes, does include a shot of several layers of crumbling sidewalk with open sewer beneath.
Myanmar is home to a tremendous number of Buddhist temples, and Yangon is sort of built up around Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the biggest and most opulent temples you’ll see. We went there one evening:
Another night we visited Sule Pagoda, which is in the heart of downtown Yangon. Part of it features a wooden model ship in which you put offerings; then you turn this hand crank and it drags the boat up to a pagoda. Nyan dug it.
Here’s a sampling of Nyan being a man about town (and airport, and airplane). And goofing for the camera. Plus a couple shots of Mommy and Daddy for good measure.
Yangon has a (rather old) train network, and our guidebook suggested taking a ride to see more of the city. So we did. It was scenic in its way, a great way to see the ‘real’ city and its people, as it were. The book also suggested getting off in the suburb of Insein, home to an infamous prison but also (said the guidebook) an interesting place to wander around and grab lunch. Trusting souls that we are, we did this — and pretty much regretted it instantly, as there was no place to eat, nothing to see, just some dusty roads and a very local market area. We had a quick wander and found a taxi back to central Yangon, where we found lunch and cursed our guidebook (which was otherwise quite dependable). Some shots from our odyssey:
And a train pulling in to the central station. Yangon may not have basic infrastructure, but it certainly has advertising.
Since this was Daddy’s first visit to Myanmar, Mommy strongly suggested he take a short visit up to Bagan, an area north of Yangon that’s home to thousands of old temples. It’s like Cambodia’s Angkor Wat writ large, apparently. So he did that; while he was up there, Nyan and Mommy spent time with family, including aunties and cousins and family friends. They visited temples, they visited parks, they vamped for the camera.
As for Bagan, Daddy reports that it more than lived up to the hype. Beautiful, breath-taking, stunning… you get the picture. Quite hot and dry though. Some pics and video:
Let’s leave this post on a wetter note: a couple of videos of our boy, happily splashing and swimming during a rest stop back at the hotel in Yangon. Until next time, Myanmar…