First Impressions of Yangon

Dec 06, 2017 in

So on my first afternoon in Myanmar, I took a stroll in downtown Yangon. After only one hour, I had to return to the hotel because I was so exhausted from the many impressions I got.
I felt strongly reminded of my first trip to foreign lands more than ten years ago, to Delhi in India. There are many differences of course, I mean in the sense that it is overwhelming:


Such heat, so many people, the chaotic traffic situation, garbage and animals all around the place, so many things happening at the same time.

The photos do not capture that impression so well, as I tend to not point my camera on people – which is difficult there of course, what’s left is to make pictures of the streetside in general.

My impression of the people though is that they are uniquely honest, kind and relaxed. I have rarely seen anyone get loud with anyone, not even saw small children cry – even though they are everywhere.
Often, people would just greet us and/or start a small conversation, just out of curiosity.

Don’t get me wrong, there are touts, but my experience is that as natural as everyone else and when you show no interest in what they offer, kindly leave you be.

City shapes

Dec 02, 2017 in

Incidentally, the airplane I was on from Frankfurt to Bangkok, flew over both Delhi, Yangon and Bangkok during the night. Once out of Germany, there was not a single cloud on the way, so I could see every single village, city and illuminated roads on the way.
Interesting (for me) is, that each city has quite a unique pattern of light, a shape of the city by night.

Typical for Delhi, other than that it is massive, are the quite orange street lights in the center part of town and their total absence in many of the (poorer?) outskirts and slums that surround this mega city. In their place, a sea of smaller, clusters of cold bluish light, coming from the various individual dwellings was visible.
While flying over Delhi, which was only a couple of minutes, I noticed two of the aforementioned clusters black out. It is somewhat of an odd sight to see all the lights of a whole neighborhood just vanish from one second to another.

For Bangkok, I think what is unique are these long rectangular erstwhile rice field “boxes” along main streets which have been made into a each a housing complex of similar residential buildings, especially in the outskirts of town. No “anthill” spread like in Delhi, but still partly completely different towards each other – every (private) city planner seems to be doing his own thing.

Yangon, finally, I was unable to recognize. And it looked much smaller than I thought it should be. You know, I have taken an interest in mapping Yangon in Myanmar for OpenStreetMap from satellite imagery for some time now, so I have a pretty clear picture of how the city should look from above – but I was simply unable to tell even from which direction I am looking at it.
And I think, the reason might be, that most of the city was not illuminated at all at that time (4 AM). Well, so I derive from that, that power is even more of short supply than in India. This is not really a surprise – only that this even applies for Yangon, the most important city in Myanmar.

And so, this was my first impression of Yangon. Next article is my first “real” impression :-P