It was a bit of a non-planned trip. Not planned for very long or very thoroughly anyway. My girlfriend’s birthday coincided with me needing to leave Vietnam to come back with a new visa, which also just so happened to coincided with a pretty amazing deal on air tickets from Saigon to Yangon I happened to find one night while perusing the ipad in bed. She wanted to go to Japan, but it seemed a bit out of our budget for the moment, so I convinced her of Burma, and a few short weeks later we were on a plane to Yangon, for her first visit and my second.
Though Yangon could probably be summed up in various different ways, the overriding elements that we seemed to encounter on a regular basis were traffic and rain. Traffic, especially in major Asian cities, is just a given, and Yangon is no different, these days anyway. Just a few years ago when I first visited, new cars were as scarce as leprechauns, but recently the government has allowed many new imports, which is great, but the crumbling, narrow streets of the city just can’t handle the influx very well, and long traffic jams constantly ensue. There are also no motorbikes allowed, but plenty of trishaws and people walking to compete for space as well. And it’s South East Asia so it rains a lot!
Most of the nights were spent at a friend’s apartment, but the first night we found a hotel, and it just happned to be around the corner from a busy nightmarket street. A man walks past an apartment building on a popular market street.
Sushi from the back of a truck? I passed thank you….
Just as with taxis, many of the busses that ply the city are privatley owned, and there’s always a guy hanging out of the door barking for customers to come on board.
The adverts on busses and taxis were always fairly entertaining. The one below I saw everywhere on shops and cars, but still never quite figured out what it was for! Any guesses?
No trip to Yangon is complete without a stroll around Shwedagon, the city’s most famous and venerated gilded pagoda. It’s scale is is hard to related in images alone. Everyday, all day, Buddhist devotees and tourists encircle the golden dome, giving prayers and offerings at each station, named for the days of the week.
On our second night in the country, I met up with a friend and fellow photographer called Ruben who’s based in Yangon. He had an interesting idea for what to do on a Monday night. Recently, he had met a group of young punks who play in a band, and have a small shop selling punk paraphernalia. But that’s not the coolest part. Every Monday night, they chip in what little cash they can to buy and deliver food to homeless people around downtown. They were kind enough to let us join them this night, and I made just a few frames because it was mostly very dark. However, Ruben made a video about them, that actually won him some honors and a trip to Europe. Check out the short to get a much better idea of the story.
Children play outside of the main train station in downtown.
After leaving the city for a while to visit other places (further posts and images to follow) we returned to the city with just a day left before we had to depart. When I visited Yangon previosly, I did a set of images about the circle train line that loops the city, and wanted to do a bit more work on it. Unfortunately, a fairly heavy hangover from an Oktoberfest celebration the night before left me slightly less than fully functional. Anyway, an early afternoon mild burst of motivation (and oncoming guilt if I didn’t leave the house at all) took us outside and in a cab downtown toward the station. Plans were to ride the train for a bit, either all the way around, which is 3-4 hours, or just jump off somwhere and catch a cab back. In my current state, neither sounded like great options, so instead, we opted for an extended stroll around the tracks, capturing stationary life, which can be just as interesting perhaps.
As a final parting shot, one of my favorite from this trip I believe.