Like many former British colony in the East, Rangoon today known as Yangon reminds me of Delhi. Walking around the historical quarter are a number of colonial style buildings unfortunately many has fallen into decrepitude but one can just imagine how it could have been like during its heydays.
To get that bygone era feeling is to start the historic walk from the Mahabandoola gardens behind the Sule Paya, where sometime you can see fortune-tellers offering their services in hand reading, prediction, astrology and so on. These esoteric sciences seem to be quite popular among the Burmese people.
For decades Rangoon has always been a melting pot of migrants from all Asia. Unlike other Burmese cities, Rangoon is multicultural with Indian, Chinese and Muslim quarters each with their houses of worship, temples, mosques and Christian churches. The streets are numbered so you certainly won’t get lost and even if you do all you have to do is follow the numbers or just take a ride in one of the unique trishaws parked along the outer streets of down town. Most are either asleep waiting for clients or chattering away with fellow trishaws. They seem eager to speak English even if they can’t, either way sign language where you want to go, bargain the price (a must) and there you are … Riding the trishaw in the streets of Rangoon can be quite an experience.
But I much prefer walking around the many streets and get lost in different quarters with their own distinctive flavour. Such as when I come into this Chinese temple where I see people playing local games.
Or watching locals playing chinlone traditional ball game in the Muslim quarter. It is quite impressive to watch these players dancing around elegantly using their legs, shoulders, feet and heads trying to keep the rattan ball off the ground.
Sometime you can also get a glimpse of monks with their alms bowls.
Downtown Rangoon can be hectic where each block of street is crammed with shops and street vendors. I came across a street specialized in items such as fishing equipments and caught a glimpse of girls repairing fishing net.
Seller with posters books and pictures of the popular lady in Burma.
One road leading to the famous Bogyoke Aung San formerly Scotts market, is lined with fruit stalls and all sort of never ending food sellers.
A jack fruit seller
Fish and fresh bamboo shoot sellers …
Unique thanaka sellers are also part of the streets attraction. The yellow paste made from grinding these bark with water are used for the face and body as local cosmetic cream.
And at the end of the day the streets are jam packed with people going home, buses are crowded …
After a day walking around the streets of Rangoon I did get a chance to try the famous old commuter train that circles around the city … quite impressive.