Rangoon (Yangon) Here We Come!

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October 16th 2015
Published: November 1st 2015
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I don't care who named it, or what you want to call it. But Rangoon is one of those city names that stays and stays, at least in my mind. I would compare it's intriguing name with cities like Addis Ababa, Rio de Janeiro, Cartagena, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Wimbledon, and Reims. It certainly sounds more charming than Reno, Denver, London, or Madrid.

But this is an old, disheveled work in progress, multi-ethnic, interesting, and even picturesque. The city border to the south and west is the Yangon River, also called the Hlaing River. To the east is Pazundaung Chaung (Canal),which flows into the Yangon River. To the north, the city pens up, spreading along long avenues. The northern end is where most businesses and hotels are located.

The two most important townships outside of the central area are Dagon, home to the famous Shwedagon Paya, and People's Park, and Bahan, home to many of Rangoon's mid range and top end hotels and inns. The Kandawgyu Lake sits directly on the north south flow of traffic, and is a most convenient landmark for us tourists. The central city is where we plan to explore on foot.

Since Mike and I are not "temple" guys, we will find other things to amuse ourselves. Both Chinatown and the famous Bogyoke Aung San Market are sure to capture our attention for at least one day. But the Shwedagon Pagoda is the highlight of most tours in Rangoon, along with the nearby excellent restaurants in the area.
The area is a contrast of great dimension, our 5 star Shangri-La Hotel amidst filth, grime, poverty, open sewage, and beggars of all shapes and sexes. But people go about their lives, perfectly safe here for us to walk the streets after dark. We walked about 20 minutes to energy infused Chinatown, filled with teeming youngsters, eating and drinking cheap beer in big groups. Mostly, young boys, few women, usually families only or couples. Not sure if it is demographics or culture. After many hawkers begging us to sit, we ended up in the most popular joint, for noodles and beer. Young girls sell cigarettes door to door, the stench of smoke mixed with big time humidity. In other words, the cold beer was extra good! People seem quite happy, care free, and highly social. The scene could be back in the states on any Thursday night. Eating outdoors, on red plastic chairs, throngs of people coursing through the narrow streets, laughter the common denominator across all tables. In other words, a good time was had by all.

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