The former Yangon capital
Former capital of Myanmar, Yangon city is an amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese, Indian and Portuguese influences, with colonial architecture which although decaying is certainly a unique example of 19th century colonial capital. Contemplating Yangon from above gives the impression of a city of the past, disturbed by some newly-built skyscrapers scarily unoccupied as they seem not to belong there…
Despite its old look the city is very energetic and gives an impression of continuous movement and bustle. We were surprised that the traffic is full of cars, not scooters, motorcycles or tuk-tuks as in a “normal” Asian metropole. And what is more surprising is seeing precious stones like jade, emerald or amber being sold in the same market as bugs or second-hand mechanic tools. Marvelous!
We’ve seen here the most beautiful pagodas so far in Asia: Shwedagon and Sule.
Shwedagon (built and rebuilt since the 6th century) gives an impression of Las Vegas style with its multicolored neon lights on a galaxy of shapes and textures. Unlike other religious sites, it captures the essence of both the informal, simple life (with children running up and down playing or lovers on a romantic stroll) as well as the strong religious feelings (with Buddhist monks praying or inviting people for donations).
According to the legend, Sule Pagoda was built during the time of Buddha, which makes it more than 2000 years old. Being located in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Yangon, seems like an oasis of calm within the bustle of the “outside” world.
All in all, Yangon gives a strange feeling of marriage between the wiped past and the constantly energetic, modern world! We can call it our first surprise in Myanmar.