Yangon, the capital city that has offered us some kindness of human being. Being sceptical of the metopolitan city after we had amazing simple life in Inle Lake, we would never think that we had the pleasant day with a nice stranger. He was a travel guide in the Pagoda who likes to speak English with anyone, and he was interested in walking together with us without any intention of scam whatsoever. And yet, he reminded me of my late Father. He was sincere and he showed us the true kindness of Burmese people. He made us understand the Burmese culture and how to live in Myanmar. Therefore I have compiled some list on things to do in Yangon by what he has shown us from the local point of view.
We feel so blessed having met Kyi Mint, as we found it hard to find a Couchsurfing host in Myanmar (Myanmar people were not open for foreigner tourists back then). So, of course, we were so excited to meet and talk to him about what we were curious about. Then from him also we learned a couple of things that we noticed from Burmese people. They really like chewing the betel (Indonesian language: Sirih), despite man or woman, we were wondering a lot about it when we first came into Myanmar. Kyi Mint finally gave us some of his betels to try, and of course, we didn’t like it! I and Arma threw it up immediately and drank some water to washed the taste. Then again, the Burmese have done this their whole life and it was good for their health (I like healthy stuff but I don’t think I will ever do that daily..). We asked many things about the Burmese culture and we just couldn’t get enough! We hope that we can see him again in the future.
What you need to learn about Yangon is not only the big metropolitan city, even though you might think its the capital city of Myanmar. It has some European architectures and some lush urban buildings that reminded us of Indonesia back in the 70s. The centre of attraction is, of course, the Shwedagon Pagoda as is it the largest one in the country. Nonetheless, there are some things that you can do to absorb the Burmese culture into your mind and heart.
Visit the Shwedagon Paya Pagoda
A must visit place when you come to the city. It is indeed the largest places I have ever seen. One whole complex full with pagoda and people praying. Even though it was not the same traditional style like it was in Bagan, we were stunned by the details of the pagodas. Everything was beautiful through their handicraft decoration on every part of the pagodas. I couldn’t express more than to show you the pictures. Here you go!
Visit the Bogyoke Aung San Market
The biggest market in central Yangon named after the Aung San Suu Kyi’s father. Oh, and by the way, I was such a big fan of the movie, The Lady. (You have to watch it! It’s one of the reasons I want to visit Myanmar so badly. I asked Kyi Min why he was named after this market. He answered that it was to memorised his sacrifice towards the Burmese Independency. Seeing we were so excited about the Burmese history, Kyi Mint said he would like to accompany us. And so he took us to go to the bazaar by using the local bus. Gee.. It was fun! Surround yourself with the locals (a.k.a cramped) but they kept the smile on you and even gave you some spot to sit. Ah.. Burmese people are so friendly! Then, when we drop ourselves into the market we were stunned! The place is so large and full of shops just like in Pasar Baru back in my hometown, that means they sell everything!
It was said that the market as a major tourist destination sells some of the Burmese handicraft, jewels, and clothes. I was quite shocked seeing many golds jewellery around the area. Whilst, Arma was so interested into the jade bracelet as Myanmar has some good quality and cheaper than we would have back in Indonesia. Some even said that there was black market going around this bazaar, but we were ignoring the issue and decided to pay a visit instead.
Hop into the Local Train!
Kyi Mint gave us some idea to hop into the local train to see the side of Yangon. And of course, we said yes! It sounds super interesting! If you are planning to do this too, make sure you got into the train that will take you around the city of Yangon. 🙂
We waste our time waiting for the train by chatting again asking Kyi Mint many questions about the Burmese. Then we realised we were also sharing our private lives issues and he even gave us some prophecy based on our birth date and hand lines. Sorry, am not going to share his prediction! 🙂
The view was spectacular, and yet it reminded me so much about Indonesia. especially when the train stops in several places and we saw the Pop-Up Market on the train tracks. And of course, it was an awe to see this kind of culture for us.
Spend an Afternoon on the Mahabandoola park
Oh, I love this park so much. It was very close to our hostel and when we were walking around in the morning, it was not as crowded as we got in the afternoon. We closed up our walk around the Yangon city by taking some rest in the park. Watching the children monks passing by, the locals that were dating, and some family with their children plays around. It was a good afternoon to absorb the feeling of being a Burmese.
I always remember what Kyi Mint said to us on the train when we were amazed by the people on the tracks, he was embarrassed by the people’s tradition of being dirty and selling stuff on the tracks. And we both said, ‘NO! You shouldn’t be embarrassed. You have a beautiful country, humble people, and stunning cultures that we have not seen before.” And this reminds me of what happened in Indonesia. Despite those bad rumour around our country and the traditions that we were against about, I AM SURE, the outsider will think that it was beautiful. Never judge your own country and always defend what people might say about it. I remember that I was mad once to my German housemates when he insulted Indonesia. I firmly asked him to never say those words again. People can mock me, talk about me, but don’t ever try to talk bad things about the country where I was born at.
Overall, our Yangon trip was mesmerising for us. And that’s why we have Kyi Mint to thank for! If you want to be guided by Kyi Mint during your trip in Yangon please kindly ask him here:
Phone number: 0931616857
How about you? Do you plan to go to Yangon or have anything to share?
© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.