The Burmese government moved the country’s capital to Naypyidaw in 2005. Why? Some say it was their reaction when a fortune teller warned the military chief of an imminent foreign attack in Yangon. What happened to Yangon then?
Hit me with all your colours
The decision left Yangon, the former capital, with a huge number of empty buildings, as all ministries were moved to the new settlement. Some of these buildings are slowly trying to find its new purpose today.
Walking around Yangon feels like a constant sightseeing. Ancient colonial buildings in yellows, blues, greens and reds mixed together with houses which are not far behind in terms of character and colour. Oh yes, coming to Myanmar was indeed a good choice.
Our favourite is the High Court Building. Built in 1911, it was the highest seat of justice during the British colonial rule. It will soon be rented out to a local bank and converted into a museum. Does it look like St Pancras’ Station in London?
It is not hard to imagine that perhaps this is how other South East Asia cities were like a few years ago. Sure the traffic can be horrible at times and the heat is intense but a stroll down the high street is definitely more pleasant than in current Bangkok.
The streets are filled with small stalls selling everything. From fresh fruit, to quirky tools and mobile phones. There is a stall for every monk!
Commuters certainly have a more chilled attitude and even the train platform seems to be quiet at peak times. Life goes by at a different pace in Yangon and we like it very much.
And lastly, for something more glittery
In a city dotted with mosques, churches and pagodas, it is the latter that truly caught our attention. Golden spires
is not an unfamiliar sight but there is something about their peacefulness that keeps dragging us in.
And then, above them all, there is Shwedagon Paya. A breathtaking sight which is hard to classify: a temple, a monument or a congregation site. Whatever your pick might be, it is a great place for people watching while admiring the different shades of gold.
According to the legend, there has been a stupa on this hill for more than 2000 years and, despite the severe earthquakes and invasions, 8 of Buddha’s hairs together with relics of three other buddhas are still enshrined in one of the many pagodas.
The main stupa, crowned with thousands of diamonds, rubies and sapphires, raises in the middle of the compound and it is visible from almost anywhere in Yangon. And what a great sight it is.
We head north through some bumpy roads to meet our inner Indiana Jones at Bagan. Bring on the temples!