Hitting Yangon

We arrived early in the morning. It was still dark but already tropical warm and humid. That’s were we wanted to be! The trees in front of the airport host millions if screeching birds during that hour. The air is full of diesel soot that will be with us for three weeks from now. Hooting cars as well. We stayed at the edge of Pazundaung, a “residential” area near the river where the small workshops are specialized in iron work. Oily screws, winches and shafts everywhere. People wash themselves on the street in the evening below their lonyijs. It’s a 10-minutes spectacle that’s intimidating and joyful at the same time.

Walking towards the center included defiling the probably poorest streets of downtown. The beaming white tourists where completely openly stared at and cat called. Men with blood like betel liquid dropping out of their mouths were coming way to close up to us, shouting “HELLO!” This never happened to us in any other area of the country. Sure, we were particularly white, particularly clumsily stumbling over the uneven side walks and it was particularly not us they stared at, but Marie. I merely wasn’t recognized when they studied her cleavage. I guess, this staring didn’t have so much of a sexual connotation but more the interest in so much white skin. Could be, it’s just the body length that made them stare at her chest rather the face …

Everyone! in that city has a mobile phone. The penetration of Telenor as higher than in the tram in Oslo. Monks hang out at the pagoda / on Facebook, busy with taking selfies.

[We also hang out more than once at the amazing lively Shwedagon pagoda, Yangon’s major landmark.]

Yangon has something of Berlin 20 years ago. An incredible need for and potential of speediest development. I’m just afraid that Yangon will fuck up even a bigger time than Berlin in terms of ugly architecture and unused urban settings. Other than that, we actually tried to stay away from the metropolis during the onward journey but ended up passing it four times in total …


Myanmar is beautiful …

Mawlamyine is probably the nicest city of the country. Kippling wrote his romantic poems here, too lazy to travel all the way up to the real site of crime with the melodic name, Mandalay. Or too much hitting on a “Mandalay” girl from town. Mawlamyine got its fantastic river promenade from the military, an invaluable asset. Doesn’t look like the Boulevard de la Croissette in Cannes yet; the potential is there. The promenade today is also the town’s main waste disposal site. Traders who come in to one of the three enormous markets would just throw all their waste over the promenade wall, like cardboard, organic left overs and, of course, plastic. Later, so the logic, the high tide will come and the next morning all will be pretty and clean again. Almost.

In Yangon, the only nice buildings in Yangon are the monasteries and the pagodas. I didn’t see one single colonial house that was in a better than ruin condition.

In Nyaung Shwe, I looked at the “modern” houses from maybe ten years ago, so ugly that I wondered what they are going to do with them in a few years time. I couldn’t imagine anyone living there in some five years time when news houses will have been built according to a non-brutal-totalitarian-chinese taste.

One of the omnipresent untidinesses was the most troublesome: the diesel particles in the air, everywhere. Everywhere there is activity, i.e. a vehicle with an unfiltered exhaust. I fully realized the bad air only when I was back in clean old Switzerland. Pust.

No the country isn’t beautiful in a common sense. Plastic already hit hard. We just didn’t stumble upon any really clean and fine setting. The few spots that are pure are the tip of a pagoda or a narrow angle of a landscape. Not a single white towel in this country is white, but beige to brown. Even the omnipresent gooey karaoke videos are not … proper: In every scene, somewhere an electric cable hangs from the wall or a plastic bag flies through the background. Selfie time!

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