Yangon is not an easy city to fall in love with, unless you were born and raised there. As objective as you could be, the city has a lot of flaws and when you enter downtown, after a long taxi ride from the airport, you see them clearly. Stray dogs everywhere, intense traffic jam punctuated with incessant horns, girls and boys (often very young) begging among the cars, and when you step out, it’s the smells. I visited Myanmar in July, the rainy season (even though I didn’t see any rain but in Yangon). Yangon is a huge city with roughly 4 350 000 inhabitants, and it’s also very humid. With the heavy rains, all smells are amplified, foods, flowers but also drains. The buildings are decrepit, stained with black, their walls unable to keep the humidity oustide. As we walked into our room, we are welcomed by a musty smell damp walls. We are staying two days in Yangon, the former capital city of Myanmar before heading towards Mandalay in the north of the country, but my friend is already ready to leave. She doesn’t like the weather, the dirt and what seems to be a general mess or chaos.

I won’t lie, she’s no exception. All the travellers we met and chatted with told us “Yangon was ok… I guess”. They stay for a short period of time before or after exploring the rest of the country. I have planned to come back for about five days after visiting Mandalay, Monywa and Bagan. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I like the city. I find it somehow fascinating, enchanting and charming in its own ways. That doesn’t mean that I am a big fan of the heavy raining from dawn to night, nor that I like the sight of sick stray dogs, nor that the smells of some little streets is something I’d like to smell on a daily basis. The people, the colorful buildings, the foreigness of it all compared to France, the architecture (religious or not), the past that you can almost touch as you enter some shops or walk through some alleys and markets just make it so interesting.

It’s also nice to see how things evolve and change. To see the youth playing the guitar and singing out loud near Inya lake, notice a few english speaking schools, the pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi and some western restaurants.

Unfortunately Yangon isn’t meant to be walked, and taxis don’t allow for the same freedom and discovery spirit. Buses run in the city but I’ll admit neither of us felt brave enough to use them.

I ended up having to shorten my trip for family related reasons, and didn’t get to spend more time in Yangon than those two days + an extra one to catch my flight back to Paris. Myanmar is quite far away from Paris, flights to Yangon aren’t particularly cheap either. I’ll be busy with the last year of my Master Degree and my other projects. My sister and I also have planned to visit South Korea in April of next year, and I don’t have any vacations until December. Despite all of this, I am already thinking of going back, telling one of my very good friend about it, reading more and more about the places I have yet to see there, trying to master the alphabets and a few basic sentences.  I guess I did fall in love.

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9 Replies to “Yangon”

  1. I am living in India, and I have been to China. I can really see on your pictures some reminiscence of these countries. Somehow similar and different …

  2. Very interesting blog post, as always! It’s great that you stay honest. Cheers xx

  3. What beautiful pictures Emi! It would be too humid an chaotic for my taste though 😉

  4. I don’t know why but Malasya looks like Brazil little bit…espeacilly São Paulo, but not really like these cities with stray dogs,,,but it’s not very different, so I think you’ll like Brazil if you came someday..

  5. I loved the pics, especially the last one with that couple…cute :3

  6. Je constate que tu fais quelques photos vraiment splendides. Je ne sais pas si c’est un truc qui te passionnes aussi, indirectement, dans ton goût pour les voyages… C’est un truc qui m’ennuie en règle générale, regarder des albums de photos-souvenirs. Mais là ça me fait penser que ça doit certainement dépendre de leur qualité. Il y en a une qui me fait particulièrement penser à New Delhi, avec des souvenirs tellement forts… 🙂

  7. Ouch, yep that’s really not for me, especially being anxious, I think I couldn’t stand how overwhelming the place seems to be (the noise, the smells, the mess!)…
    Didn’t you feel bad at times?

  8. why dont you start a younow account and broadcast live? it’d be nice!

  9. La photo qui me rappelle une histoire très spéciale à New-Delhi, c’est la 9ème en partant du haut, soit la 18ème en partant du bas (comme c’est bizarre cette numérologie) (*.*)…

    J’étais perdu dans les ruelles de cette ville en fin de nuit, voulant me balader à la fraîche, calmé de toutes ses folles agitations diurnes. Et je n’ai retrouvé mon chemin qu’à l’aube en retombant “par hasard” au même endroit que là où j’avais commencé mon séjour environ deux mois plus tôt. Un homme tout seul devant son office de tourisme, s’arrête net à quelques mètres de moi et me dévisage, puis s’exclame : “Hey, Fraâançey ! My friend, how are you ?”

    Trop énorme de me souvenir de ça comme si c’était la semaine dernière ! Ta photo ressemble davantage à un crépuscule, mais même si elle m’évoque quelque chose de si étrange et tout à fait personnel, c’est surtout très évocateur d’un ressenti ou d’une émotion particulière de ta part : cet instant, dans cet endroit, avec cette couleur… Tout comme d’autres images le sont dans un autre registre. Et quand je revois tes images sur ton site ainsi que celles que tu choisis de poster sur toutes tes autres pages web, y compris quand tu reblogues des images sur Tumblr, je trouve que ça parle de toi en beauté. On peut ressentir ton âme émettre des ondes très fortes… <3

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