World's Largest Book, Mandalay Myanmar, Jan. 2019

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#2-Sghts in the streets of Yangon, Myanmar

This is the second post about our Southeast Asia trip, if you want to know why we went where we did, start at the beginning: #1 -Why 

You just don't want to remember some parts of a trip. The flight   from San Diego to Yangon was long but uneventful. We left home on the morning of December 25th and arrived in Yangon after 10 PM, on the 26th. Intellectually I knew we had crossed the dateline, but it still felt strange to think that it was today in Yangon but  yesterday in San Diego. 

Our son Joko had rented a car and was our driver. On the 27th, after we had a good night's rest, he picked us up and we went for a drive around some of the older parts of the city. 

One of the first things that I noticed were all of the wires.

This was not the heaviest concentration of wires on one pole that we saw, just one that I caught while we were stopped in traffic. This was typical of the power line structure.

In many places large bundles of wires sagged against the walls. No one uses land-line phones, so perhaps many of them are dead.

I can't imagine how this guy knows which wire is which, or which are "hot." Craig said they don't repair the wires, they just string new ones! 
I think I see he has some sort of safety belt attached to the pole, but

 is he barefoot, or wearing some sort of rubber sandal? 

Hundreds of wires sagged across this side street.

Vendors line both sides of the streets, selling everything imaginable. Behind them there are also small shops selling, among othere things, clothes, pharmaceuticals, electronics, plants, flowers, vegetables, rice, used and new auto parts, plastic furniture, rugs, and blankets.  I have other pictures of street sellers to share, but for now this is just a quick look.

Food of all kinds is also sold on the streets.

This lady was selling fresh fish from pans on the ground. No refrigeration or ice. Mixed among the vendors were many people cooking and selling things to eat on the go. 

We did not sample any of the street foods because I was a bit paranoid about the warnings from the CDC. My theory is that the people build up an immunity to some of the things that sicken a visitor. After a week or so, I did eat a few fresh fruits and vegetables at a hotel restaurant, without serious consequences. 

I may be wrong, but it is my impression that millions of people in the city areas buy their food daily and either eat their meals at little stalls on the street, or cook it quickly in their apartments. Joko has told us that power outages in the hot or rainy months are frequent and many people do not have refrigerators. 

image from the web
Two other things I saw a lot of as we drove around, were plastic waste and street dogs.

Wherever there was a space between buildings, or the edge of a street that was not occupied by a vendor, there were piles of plastic waste. I also noticed this when we drove through the countryside later in the week. I can't help remembering our own country's movement to clean up the litter along our roads in the past. Perhaps someday Myanmar will do the same. They do seem to collect and recycle plastic water bottles, but that is because they get paid for them. 

image from web
The dogs are every where. But they don't belong to anyone. 

They are not pampered house pets and have a life of their own on the streets.

They don't seem to beg, but I saw people feeding them scraps. 

Since most Burmese are Buddhists they let the dogs be.  After all, they may come back as one in their next life if they are not good.

The dogs are all about the same size, but vary in color,  and are generally short-haired with a curling tail. 

Such a different, vibrant place. This was just our first few hours.

Much more to come!


  1. Looking at those pictures of the Wires would be a nightmare to an Electrician. If they removed the dead lines they could recycle the wire. Quite a cultural change when it comes to Safety and Food Preparation.
    Glad to be reading about your trip.

    It's about time.

  2. The first of many blogs to come. It's nice to see this city through the eyes of a newcomer; the things you've talked about caught my attention when I first came here too. Look! Trash! Street vendors! Pedestrians wandering out into oncoming traffic! You both did well in observing the differences without being judgmental about them.

    The lack of refrigeration has also influenced the cuisine itself. You may have noticed that the dishes here were quite oily? Lots of oil keeps them from spoiling too quickly.

    The dogs. Taking any kind of life is bad karma under Theraveda Buddhism. I've had people frown at me for swatting a mosquito. It's good karma to feed the dogs.

    I'll have my own blog up soon!

    Wires: Dad was right. To expand the grid, they just add more wires. It's even denser in Bangkok. One thing that's changing now is that fiber-optic wired internet connections are finally being offered at a reasonable price, so lots of those cables you see are for data, not power.


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