Burma Part III: Rangoon


Myanma Port Authority Building undergoing restoration work

We finally flew back to Rangoon for the last two days of our trip. Despite the very intense heat and sun we managed to wander around the city and enjoy the temples, parks, old colonial architecture, buzzing markets, and the Indian and Chinese quarters.

Rangoon apparently has the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia, but many are in a distinctly dilapidated condition. Conservationists are hopeful that restoration, rather than demolition, will occur as Rangoon modernizes in the coming years. An interesting article about this and the Burmese perspective on the buildings in the Telegraph here.

Shwedagon Paya, whose golden stupa rises above the city, was one of the most remarkable religious sites that I’ve been to, as it is such a hive of activity for the Burmese. We walked around twice, primarily people watching and staring up at the gold covered stupa, which at the very top is covered in thousands of precious stones including a 76 carat diamond. We could have easily spent more time exploring the complex, but we needed to head on walking downhill into the city centre. We pottered through Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott’s Market) filled with sandalwood carvings, silver, and lacquer and then on into the old British grid system. Blue seems to be a highly favored colour here as opposed to the mustard yellow so prevalent on colonial buildings in Hanoi.

After some delicious Shan noodles to keep us going, bypassing the offal satay, we headed back north past the railway station and up to the zoo. The zoo has a rather interesting, interactive approach to feeding the animals where one can buy food from the keepers and then feed the animals (from a distance) – sugar cane for the elephants, fish for the otters, bananas for the deer – it certainly seemed a better system than in Cairo where children fed bears ice cream and vendors sold poking sticks to stir the less obliging animals from their slumber. We then walked through the beautiful Kandawgyi Park, whose lake can be appreciated by walking along beautiful teak boardwalks, on our way back up to the Savoy Hotel for a well earned ice cold Myanmar beer. Sixteen kilometers in a sunny 36 degrees is quite a lot!

Shwedagon Paya

Betel nut leaves

The Golden Swedagon Pagoda

For more photos of Rangoon please click below: