'Mingalaba' & smiling faces in Yangon
Every now and then the country would appear in the news, sadly telling us about more repression and human rights abuses and Aung San Suu Kyi's continued house arrest. Then suddenly the news started to brighten, the military leaders started to loosen their grip and Burma moved seemingly closer to democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi, known there as 'The Lady' was released and tourism opened up. We jumped at the opportunity to visit.
We arrived in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) after a brief stop in Bangkok to pick up our visas. Hotels were oversubscribed and we ended up paying more than we had hoped as everywhere was full. Burma is busier than it has ever been before because of the recent progress so the hotels are getting away with charging silly prices, something that we continued to encounter throughout our time there. I'm sure things will change soon though as competition takes hold.
Yangon was a lively city, with smiling faces everywhere saying 'mingalaba' ('auspiciousness be upon you') and with food stalls on every corner.
|Al fresco dining Myanmar style
|Betel nut addiction is what has turned this chap's railings red.
|Many Myanmar dishes. This beer did not bring us luck but others did.
|At the Lucky Seven Tea Shop.
|More temples at sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda.
|It must have been electrifying that night in 1988 when 'The Lady' gave her homecoming speech. The very speech that was the start of her political career and led to her house arrest. She talks about that night recently as a guest of Desert Island Discs. Listen here if you can. She's an amazing lady. You see her iconic image and that of her revolutionary father's everywhere, he is also called Aung San. From shops to cars to tea-houses.
|Iconic image of Aung San, independence leader of Burma.
|Tri-shaw drivers resting.