Exploring Yangon

Being in a new city and in a new country is thrilling, overwhelming and often hilarious. Here are a few shots and moments from a day on the town.

Scott trying to get a shot of Sule Pagoda as we take a taxi ride through downtown Yangon.

Scott trying to get a shot of Sule Pagoda as we take a taxi ride through downtown Yangon.

The buildings may be old and moldy, but they are stunning to look at. It is fascinating to compare the old buildings against the new foreground of people driving Lexus SUVs and monks holding smartphones.

The buildings may be old and moldy, but they are stunning to look at. It is fascinating to compare the old buildings against the new foreground of people driving Lexus SUVs and monks holding smartphones.

We found a Western bakery to the left of Bogyoke Market. It was the perfect place to enjoy coffee and a croissant while watching life pour into the market.

We found a Western bakery to the left of Bogyoke Market. Bar Boon was the perfect place to enjoy coffee and a croissant while watching life pour into the market.

The view from the cafe.

The view from the cafe.

On our way into the market these two sales women got us when they said "Mango, no wah-tah, no sug-ah."

On our way into the market these two sales women got us when they said “Mango, no water, no sugar.”

Boy, they were good!

Boy, they were good!

This woman was so beautiful, I had to capture her with her stack of rice and noodles.

This woman was so beautiful, I had to capture her with her stack of rice and noodles.

A street market near Shwedagon Pagoda.

A street market near Shwedagon Pagoda.

This is a common scene on the streets of Yangon. People are always eating, drinking tea and sharing stories.

This is a common scene on the streets of Yangon. People are always eating, drinking tea and sharing stories.

Just taking a taxi ride around the city is an adventure itself. We took this picture from a taxi on our way to Shwedagon Pagoda.

Just taking a taxi ride around the city is an adventure itself. We took this picture from a taxi on our way to Shwedagon Pagoda.

Walking down the street following a ground of teenage nuns.

Walking down the street following a group of teenage nuns.

Advertisements

Circle Train

The Circle Train is a “must do” for Yangon novices and veterans alike. The train leaves from the downtown train station (seen in the Anthony Bourdain Myanmar episode) and takes about three hours to circle the entire city. The train we intended to take transports locals from one township to the next.

When we arrived at platform 7, the man in the ticket window gave us each a ticket for 1,500 kyat (about $1.50). He was very worried about us as we waited for the train and every five minutes or so would come out of his booth and tell us to “please wait” – a common phrase Myanmar people say to foreigners. A few minutes before the train pulled up, he brought us a new ticket that said “foreigner.” We had been warned that they might make us take the “foreigner train” which is less desirable because it has aircon and they make you keep the windows closed. We wanted the local experience where you sit on hard wooden seats and are in the mix of locals bringing their goods to sell at the markets. Now we know and next time we hope to ride the local train.

However, I would not call our experience anything less than “interesting.” The time spent waiting for the train was a highlight of the day. We saw handmade chairs balanced on a stick carried on and off trains. We saw a little boy take his pants off and poop on the platform to be followed by his mom picking it up in a bag and throwing the bag in the train tracks. We even made a friend!

Chairs being taken off the train to be sold in the markets downtown Yangon.

Chairs being taken off the train to be sold in the markets downtown Yangon.

While waiting for the train, we found a friend. Well actually, she found us!

While waiting for the train, we found a friend. Well actually, she found us!

When you are that little, crawling through legs is hilarious!

When you are that little, crawling through legs is hilarious!

Then she friended Lane.

Then she friended Lane.

Someone wanted to play! Here she is swinging from my legs. She was fascinated by my camera. She was elated when I showed her the pictures of herself.

Someone wanted to play! Here she is swinging from my legs. She was fascinated by my camera. She was elated when I showed her the pictures of herself.

Myanmar beauty is easily found in all ages.

Myanmar beauty is easily found in all ages.

Locals use this train to travel around the city for about 30 cents.

Locals use this train to travel around the city for about 30 cents.

Each person we saw was more stunning then the next.

Each person we saw was more stunning then the next.

Little boy and mom wait at one of the many stops.

Little boy and mom wait at one of the many stops.

The train stopped about every 1-3 minutes. This is one of the markets we stopped at.

The train stopped about every 1-3 minutes. This is one of the markets we stopped at.

It looked like the market kept going and going.

It looked like the market kept going and going.

There aren't many westerners who hop aboard this train. Seeing us was the cause of many giggles and big red toothed grins.

There aren’t many westerners who hop aboard this train. Seeing us was the cause of many giggles and big red toothed grins.

This guy spotted us right when the train stopped.

This guy spotted us right when the train stopped.

He was selling hot tea which we knew we had to try.

He was selling hot tea which we knew we had to try.

It was very hot and served in a small plastic cup that felt like it slowly melted in our hands.

It was very hot and served in a small plastic cup that felt like it slowly melted in our hands.

This was a great chance for Scott to practice his "chezu tim ba deh", thank you in Myanmar.

This was a great chance for Scott to practice his “chezu tim ba deh”, thank you in Myanmar.

Hopefully next time we’ll get on the local train.

Where do you find resources about living in Myanmar?

Since the borders to Myanmar were recently opened in 2011, there isn’t a lot of current information about life in Myanmar. Most travel books are outdated and there are very few blogs that are current and applicable to our new life in Yangon. Over the past few months we have collected a list of the best resources out there that are the most up to date!

Books:

Insight Guides, Myanmar

Published in April 2013. This book has fantastic photographs and goes into detail on many different aspects of life in Myanmar.

Published in April 2013. This book has fantastic photographs and goes into detail on many different aspects of life in Myanmar.

The Guardian’s Top 10 Best Books on Burma

Videos:

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown – Myanmar

Bourdain travels through Myanmar exploring the good, the tasty and the ever-changing culture.

Bourdain travels through Myanmar exploring the good, the tasty and the ever-changing culture.

Myanmar in 4k

Blogs:

Becky In Burma 

Jessica’s Top Tips for Yangon

Websites:

Yangon Life

Myanmore

Mizzima

Go-Myanmar.com

Yangonite

Articles:

As Myanmar reopens, so does its universities

NY Times 36 Hours in Yangon, Myanmar

BBC Myanmar Profile

Language:

Free downloads: Burmese by Ear or Essential Myanmar

Free Online Burmese Lessons

Forums:

Mingalapar

Google Group: Yangon Expat Connection

Did we forget any essential Myamar resources? Add them here!