Lots of malfunctions in Yangon

apartment block in Myanmar desperately needing some paint

More specifically I am talking about my initial encounters in Yangon in Myanmar. It is even worse here than expected. Dilapidated streets, parts of the road have been broken up, and not replaced. Apartment blocks where the paint is peeling of. Moreover, the electrical power supply malfunctions on a very regular basis. In the afternoon the power drops out twice in the hotel where I am staying. An emergency generator provides some basic lighting, but that remains a minimal thing.

Most Asian capitals are hardly appealing

I am not a big fan of most Asian capitals, and Yangon is not an exception to that. This city is a lot quieter than Hanoi for example, but that doesn`t take away my feeling that I will get bored rather soon here. Today I visited the Sule Pagoda in the center of the city, a monument of approximately 2000 years old. Though it has been rebuilt several times, it hardly appeals to me.

Sule pagoda in Yangon

People do not bother you in Myanmar

During my visit to the temple, I get to know Aji, a 26-year-old boy who wants to practice his English. He is not pushy, and that applies to the people I meet here in general. Nobody in Myanmar is bothering you explicitly. Aji even offers to buy me a drink afterward, quite rare that I am not ending up paying the bill, being a tourist. He does want to bring me to a more remote temple, but I refuse his offer. I also do not want to be pinned down from day one; I want to create my own trip.

An unprepared and unfortunate visitor

Later that day I meet a guy from Poland who is also staying at the Ocean Pearl Inn. Fortune is not with him; his luggage has not arrived. As a matter of speaking, all he possesses is what he is wearing.  Luckily for him, he does have the necessary funds upon him. He is a bit of a rash type. Apparently, he chose to visit this country without any preparation at all. Bringing a travel guide wasn`t an option it seems. When I tell him about my intended travel highlights, Mandalay and Bagan, he claims he has never heard about these places before. There are more comfortable destinations in Asia for an unprepared visitor.

Dinner in an old colonial building

For dinner, I head to the Monsoon restaurant, located in a beautifully renovated old colonial building. The restaurant has a loungy atmosphere (also the background music), with adapted mood lighting. They serve both Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian dishes, and the quality is excellent. Of course, prices are also made for Westerners, but it is worth it. What I am less satisfied with is that the bill contains extra service charges plus a tax percentage. Well, that takes away my inclination for tipping.

colonial building in Myanmar

The real journey starts after leaving the capital city of Myanmar

Though my first impressions of Myanmar have not sparked my enthusiasm, I cannot say that I feel I have chosen the wrong destination. The real journey will start once I leave the capital city. That is why this afternoon I already booked a domestic flight to Mandalay.

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