Supplement: In December we were a second time in Yangon. You can find our current travel report with all our tips for Yangon in this article:
Yangon: The most beautiful sights and our insider tips
Yangon. So here we are. In Burma. In Yangon. Yangon – the name of the city sounds mysterious, untouched, unpredictable. During the hour-long flight from Bangkok, we have time to rack our brains about what to expect. We imagine it to be different, a bit quieter than other Southeast Asian cities. We were right about the latter, but we didn’t expect it to be so different.
Yangon, that’s hectic coupled with serenity, friendliness, curiosity, heat, dust and the rest the colonial era. But Yangon is also poverty, hopelessness, modesty. Yangon makes us think like no other city has done before. Overwhelmed by the avalanche of new impressions, we set off on our first tour of the city.
A stroll through Yangon Ancient telephones on street stalls, the cables of which run into the houses behind , people chewing and spitting up betel nut, women with pale thanaka paste on their cheeks – we must be careful not to stumble while our fascinated gazes seek to absorb it all. All. All. All. This is Burma.
The buildings are also fascinating. We see pagodas, churches, brick buildings. We see old, neglected colonial buildings , which must have looked magnificent many years ago. The houses have nice little balconies. From our guesthouse we can watch the people in the houses opposite. We like the floor tiles. People work, wash their laundry, play with the children on the floor, sew, sit, watch. From the balcony we can overlook the busy street life in a relaxed environment. Here is sold, traded, transported, honked, whistled, spat. This is Burma. Now we feel it, we’re in it.
Adventurous Train Ride: The Circular Train in Yangon We want to see more, more experience. We would like to take the train around Yangon once. The train station overruns us. The many people, the heat. It’s loud, stuffy, lively, it’s indescribable. On the trains, everything imaginable is sold by young and old: hats, raw corn on the cob, betel nuts. And the most important thing: water!
All eyes are on us as we enter the compartment. All! People show us where to sit. They smile reservedly, some grin at us. The train departs. Slowly, very slowly, he rolls out of town. The train is almost as sluggish as we are sitting in this train compartment, exhausted from the heat. Looking out of the train, feeling the wind, watching people, watching the landscape go by – that is one of those moments when you are grateful, when you love to travel.
People around us are curious, they want to communicate with us, we notice that. Some even know a few words of English, with whom we talk and learn a few words of Burmese. A woman gives us water, another handkerchiefs, a toothless man keeps smiling at us – we are blown away, touched, emotional chaos!
We come to a market that is right next to the tracks. Even before the train stops, women throw their full fruit and vegetable baskets into the compartment at full speed. Now it’s getting pretty cramped in here! We enjoy it, absorb everything, all impressions! We love it, we are happy. The rattling of the train over the tracks sounds like freedom, like travel. This is our journey. Here we are right!
Visit Shwedagon Pagoda And of course one thing should not be missing during a stay in Yangon: The Shwedagon Pagoda. When we drive there, it’s already getting dark. We actually wanted to marvel at them day and night, but unfortunately that is no longer possible. If it looks half as impressive by day as it does by night, we’re sure it would still be a great sight.
The mood is indescribable, we are thrilled again. The sight of this huge pagoda gleaming in gold leaves us in no doubt that we are in front of what is probably the most impressive religious building in all of Southeast Asia. The picture is clouded by the countless neon-colored flashing light chains that are attached to the surrounding Buddhas and mini temples. I don’t know who came up with this naughtiness, but it destroys the mystical, calming, meditative atmosphere. Hence our advice: come up with something to mentally hide these lights. Anything! It’s really awful. Just don’t look. This is Asian kitsch style to the power of a thousand!
What we also noticed: WE stand out. Once again everyone stares at us, giggles at us, turns to look at us, smiles at us, calls us “ beauty”. It doesn’t take long before we are asked to take a photo together. So that’s us, Toni, Romeo, Patrick and Kathi surrounded by a crowd of young Burmese. You just have to like these people, right? You are adorable.
Authentic Shopping Mall in Yangon In order to experience as much Yangon as possible again, we visit a shopping mall on our last day. First thought: anthill. Friendly anthill. It’s teeming with Burmese people staring us up and down. We are not lying when we say that we are the only tourists there. The only ones far and wide! The escalators probably got stuck decades ago. The whole building is a sight. We are laughed at, fingers pointed at us. And we, we try to orient ourselves in the chaos and weave our way through the building. We love the atmosphere, the bustle, we soak it all up.
Yangon, you’re so weird. We have never been able to take so many new impressions with us on our further journey. You cast a spell over us, open our eyes. We have never encountered so many friendly, helpful people as here. We have never enjoyed a train ride as much as here. Never. This is Burma.
Have you ever taken the Circular Train in Yangon? Leave us a comment with your testimonials.