Myanmar, or Burma depending on who you ask, has become the new and ‘exotic’ destination among travelers. Opening its borders to travelers somewhat recently, the country has seeing a flood of tourists to its main cities and attractions. The strong and repressive government that we all have heard about allows tourists to move freely within a designated area, while controlling which hotels can host foreigners, the bus companies that connect the cities, and the entry fees to cultural attractions. All of this results in elevated prices with a low ratio of comfort to money. For example, a standard double room in Yangon is at least $25 USD while an equivalent room in any other South East Asian country is $12 USD. Nevertheless, the country, and mostly the Burmese people, are wonderful and definitively worth your time.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, otherwise and obviously known as the Golden Pagoda, is a beacon for thousands of pilgrims who attempt at least once in their life to make it to Yangon and see/pray in person. For the people of Myanmar, the day of your birth holds a very spiritual significance, which is why there are 12 planetary posts conforming to the days of the week around the stupa’s base, where locals find their appropriate place and begin to worship. The rest of Yangon might not be as bedazzling as the Golden Paya, but it holds an intriguing history where the government saw local adherence, violence, backlash and resilience of the Burmese people.
We spent our days walking around the markets and temples of the city but one of the most rewarding experiences was taking the circular commuter train around Yangon. The ride takes around 3 hours in which you see the whole city, farmlands, villages, and many many smiley people. It’s a great way to spent the afternoon and to see how the real people live in the city.
Tracy making friends whilst waiting for the circular train to take us on a journey through the city by the railways