- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
When I first saw Yangon, it appeared run down to me. But what mainly makes the city interesting is the atmosphere that reigns there. The Burmese made me feel very welcome, and they are incredibly kind.
I took the time to visit numerous Buddhist temples, such as the Sule Pagoda, to shop in the city's large main market, to go walking along the shores of Kandawgyi lake, and, especially, to pass a few hours at the Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
In addition to its religious function, it also acts as a genuine center for social life. The Burmese meet there to socialize, eat and pray. It's a magnificent place, completely covered in gold. if gave me the opportunity to talk with Burmese families who still find it curious to see tourists visiting their country.
Even though it has not been the country's administrative capital since 2007, Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) is still the nation's largest city, with a population of over four million. The city remains an essential place to visit when touring Burma.
From a cultural point of view, I wasn't overwhelmed with Yangon.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, a huge stupa located at the top of Singuttara hilla, is obviously the main place to visit. It is a major site of Buddhist pilgrimage, as well as being Burma's main religious center. I went there a few hours before sunset so that I could enjoy the evening light and see the three metric tons of gold used to cover the stupa shining and gleaming.
Another nice trip to make: a tour around Lake Kandawgyi, an artificial lake located in the city and surrounded by a park and a children's play area.
Yangon is a bustling city made up of main streets arranged in a grid and which, for my tastes, do not have any particular charm to offer. The buildings are old. Many of them date from the colonial period (and show British influences therefore) and are mostly quite dilapidated, to judge by appearances at least. I found the city quite unsettling at first. It is distinctive from quite a few other Southeast Asian cities: lots of traffic and traffic jams, disorienting, the constant sound of horns, etc.
Despite all this, the city does impress in other ways. Firstly, there is the atmosphere to be found around the main high street and 19th Street areas as night falls, where there are many cheap restaurants serving excellent grilled fish. There are also all the markets, with their fruit and vegetable stalls. And then we come to one of the country's wonders: the magnificent Schwedagon Paya pagoda, which alone makes a visit to Yangon worthwhile. I'll forever remember the way the pagoda lights up as night falls. It's quite simply magical.