Five Days in Rangoon

23 January 2013

After many years as a pariah state under the rule of a military dictatorship, Myanmar has recently reopened it's arms to the world and I've just had the good fortune to explore one tiny fraction of  the country, it's capital city Yangon .

Sule Paya Road, Yangon
I originally came to look at the possible excavation of crated Spitfires rumoured to have been buried at a former WWII airbase on the outskirts of the capital at the end of the war with the Japanese. After several weeks of digging , David Cundall and his team have found nothing and in the short time I've been here on standby I thought it better to at least have a look around the city and take some pictures .

A monk walks along one of the terraces of the gold plated stupa of Yangon's Shwedagon Paya 
Yangon was known during the British Colonial era as Rangoon and didn't revert to it's pre-colonial name again until 1989 and as you travel around the city there are many victorian era building in varying stages of decomposition waiting to be snapped up by the wealthy foreign investors that are now queuing up to enter Myanmar now that sanctions have mostly been lifted. Around the capital there is an obvious increase in building and construction after years of stagnation.

Children watching builders at work on Sule Paya Road, Yangon
Although rather musty and dilapidated on the whole, Yangon has some incredible sights including reportedly the worlds oldest Buddhist pagoda, the Shwedagon Paya which is coated with sixty tons of gold and topped with a 76 carat diamond and one can see devotees offering flowers and prayer flags visiting the shrine that symbolises the particular day of their birth .

Young nuns at the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon
The streets around the capital are buzzing with activity, market stalls sell everything from fresh fish to counterfeit iPhones and for the more intrepid, wonderful street food reflecting the range of ethnicities living in Mynamar . 
Staff at the Nilar Biryani restaurant on Anawratha Rd

Everyone I've met has been incredibly friendly and welcoming and the service in the rather overpriced upmarket hotels (due to a present shortage, and no lack of foreign business travellers ) second to none .
Lunch time at the Bogyoke Aung San market

Fruit market on Mahabandoola Road
Breakfast one morning
My only regret was not having the opportunity to travel farther afield to the likes of Bagan, Inle Lake, the beautiful beaches and as a photojournalist at heart, perhaps the more important story still ongoing in the north along the Chinese border .Hopefully one day I'll be able to come back again, more likely on a holiday, as there is so much to see in a country that after so many years in relative isolation hasn't yet been spoilt by tourism. 

A street barber and client close to the Strand Hotel in downtown Yangon

Craftsmen hand carving and painting deities close to the Shwedagon Paya
The Yangon river crossing to Thanlyin
Couples on Inya Lake at sunset


Anonymous said…
Fantastic photo's, what a great life you have visiting such exotic places. Cheers and best wishes to your continuing success. Chris locke
Anonymous said…
Wow, Heathcliff you got some amazing images! No matter how many monk and pagoda shots we've all seen, yours of the monk walking on the golden stupa in Yangon's Shwedagon Paya is the most dramatic ever! Can't wait to see your next blog. Tracy Craighead

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