Yangon: Cityscape

The first thing my body registers is the spike in heat. It presses lightly on my skin like a gentle hug. As the day wore on, it slowly seeps through to rejuvenate my cold and miserable bones.


Then comes the chaotic, but surprisingly orderly traffic. Cars stay on their side of the lane, and does not swerve into oncoming traffic to get ahead. One or two cars cut in horizontally but otherwise, everyone generally obeys the rules of the road. There are curious faces poking out of un-air-conditioned taxis at us, and I stare back with the same level of fascination. Sometimes we both look away shyly after making unintended direct eye contact.

From beyond the windows of my comfortably chilled car, there is an onslaught of sounds. Car horns, motors, bus brakes, people shouting out services that they offer, all swirling and dancing around the metal and glass of my taxi and conglomerating at boulevard intersections.

After a quick lunch of Shan noodles at a scantily decorated roadside shop and a cup of latte at a hipster Singaporean-run establishment, I napped away my afternoon until the evening glow of Yangon flittered through my hotel window.


Walking in the night-side of the city, the buildings that stood silent and pale during the day, come to life. They put on their neon suits and billboard bracelets, giant light towers lining the streets. Honking cars and packed buses flash their headlights and boom by in red and yellow. The Sule Pagoda stands in all its golden glory at the centre of the world.

Despite all the activity and electricity, the city is distinctively dark. Stars in the sky can be easily spotted, even as I stood next to the shining Sule Pagoda. In a city of 5.21 million lives, being able to look up and see the universe glimmer is a rarity among big cities.



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