You Might Get Hit while Crossing a Street in Myanmar/Burma

When folks back home, i.e., family and friends who don’t live abroad or who aren’t into traveling the way I am, which isn’t an insult by any means, heard that I was planning on traveling to Myanmar/Burma in 2009, they reacted with surprise, shock, and uncertainty, and a few even queried, “Where is that?” I must have been off my rocker, some felt. “Aren’t you worried about the country’s stability… or lack there of?” others wondered. “Isn’t it dangerous? What if you get hurt?”

My response, as always, was something akin to, “Well, what if I get hurt crossing the street at home? Should that stop me from crossing the street in the first place?” I felt that I could have gotten in just as much trouble if I were to have travelled into certain neighborhood’s in America’s major urban areas. No, that doesn’t mean I should decide to saunter solo down West Lake Street in Chicago at night any time soon, but I just don’t think I need to worry so much when traveling abroad–especially because so much of what we hear is based on the often-inaccurate news we receive from the media. What we hear on CNN or BBC shouldn’t guide our travel decisions nor create our impressions of a place, and I often use an example of what some Germans said about America a decade or so ago as an example of how this works.

Years ago, some German tourists were, unfortunately, killed in Florida during a carjacking. The response by many in Germany, as I was told when I lived there for two years, was to shun America as a travel destination. I simply didn’t believe the response. There is so much to the USA, and it is such an immense, varied land, that one shouldn’t categorize the entire nation as unsafe. Naturally, some of the blame should be placed on the media, for I am certain that after the killings, the front page of every newspaper in Deutschland was plastered with news of how dangerous America was. With that said, much of what we have seen and heard in the media has long made Myanmar one of those destinations that should be taken off any sensible traveler’s itinerary. Nowadays, though the political, economic, and social landscape of the nation has changed much over the last few years, it still conjures up many negative images in the minds of many.

Having traveled far and wide in Asia already, having relished experiences in Sri Lanka, Laos, Indonesia and India, theretofore, I was ready for a another off-the-battered-and-overly-worn traveler’s path. In 2009, getting to Myanmar was the best choice for me. Though I could fill pages with details about traveling in the country for ten days, I leave my impressions below simply in my photographs. Moreover, there are additional images from my second visit there early in 2012, when I went to Yangon for a week to scope out the scene because we had been offered contracts to work at an international school in the city. Even after a mere three years since my first journey there, much had changed by 2012, with many restorations of buildings, roadways, and tourist sites taking place. Unfortunately (in many ways), we did not relocate to Myanmar, yet I am willing to one day, indeed.

As far as traveling to Burma goes, go. Before too many changes take place, go. Just go. You won’t regret it–unless, however, you get broadsided by a car while crossing the street there, for you could simply have gotten hit by a car in your home city instead!

Government Building, Rangon

The Old and The New

Cool Ride

Sidewalk Bookshop

Downtown Yangon Edifice

Sugar Cane Juice Machine

Mobile Vendor

More Street Typists

Sidewalk Refresher: Public Water Pots

The Strand Hotel

Yesteryear’s Facades

Juxtaposition

Lounging at a local tea shop was the best way to observe (and interact a bit with) the locals. For about 30 cents US, the tea can’t be beat!

Street Eats

Street Eats II

This ain’t, thankfully, Starbucks!

Cheap Taxis Abound

Yangon’s streets are sometimes a shambles.

When the rains come… (the generators pictured are a necessary part of living in the city/country)

Little Ms. Cutie

Seemingly Stunned

Market Vendor on Break

Thanaka is ground into a watery paste which is applied to the body and face.

Bits of Bagan

Bagan

Market Vendor, Bagan Town

Temple in Bagan

What a look!

Bagan by Night

Bits of Bagan II

Many of the children who walk the main sites, such as Bagan, are well-versed in a number of languages. Having lived in a smattering of countries, I threw out some Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese, and many of them responded with sales pitches in those languages!

More of Bagan

Smiles Everywhere!

Local Lads in Bagan Town

Betel Stand Owner

Shwedagon II

I regret I’ve forgotten where this was taken!

Travel in Myanmar, for me, was often about the beauty of the people!

Completely Cones

Burmese, if you will, use thanaka as sunscreen, skin moisturizer, etc.

Throughout Yangon, you’ll see scenes like this.

Angel Eyes

Street Typists (Men and women sit under umbrellas on many a street corner, with type writers ready for work to be done. Locals use their services to type up correspondence. Surely a “Wow!” moment when I first saw it.)

Watching a Magic Show

Contextual Surroundings of the Street Typists

Colonial Facade

Our Impromptu Tour Guide

Street Stall Tea for Cheap!

Street Market, Yangon

Though she agreed to being photographed, she looked away!

Highlight of Yangon’s Yesteryear

Vendor with Grin

Alley Market

Coal Sorters

Sadness on the Sidewalk

You can’t get any closer to the street!

Ubiquitous Betel Nut

Grinning Lad

Yangon Highlight

Shwedagon in Yangon

Taungthaman Lake near Mandalay

U-Bien Bridge

Ferryman

Wandering Monks

Catching a Ride with Dad

Side Streets

School Boy

Pretty in Pink

Toil II

Traveler with Thanaka

Village Housing

Playtime

Toil III

Smiles Everywhere

Adorably Amiable

Post Card Seller, Bagan

Details of Bagan

Intimidating

Local Transport

Restauranteur’s Son

Slow Going

Reminds Me of the Road Warrior movies…

Our Korean bus, taking us from Mandalay to Bagan, was broken down for three hours on this country road.

All Smiles

A’Storm’s A’Brewin’

Architectural Gems

It Doesn’t Get Any Better…

Young Gal with Thanaka

One Darn-Old Door

Shopping Nuns

Waitress in Mandalay

National Palace, Mandalay

National Palace Grounds

Thirst Quencher

Riverside Pals

Adorable Grin

Toil

One’s Work Is Never Done

Stacked

Riverside in Mandalay

All Aboard!

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12 Responses to You Might Get Hit while Crossing a Street in Myanmar/Burma

  1. Having recently left Rangoon after five years, it was good to see it through another’s eyes. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Karen Frederick says:

    I love your photos. I’ve lived in Yangon for two years now and they capture a lot of what it is like here. I’m not good at taking photos myself. It is great to share with my friends and family on FB so they can see the beauty of this country and it’s people. Thanks

    • vagabondwithfamily says:

      Thank you, Karen. I appreciate your looking and responding. It is good to know that even though I “can’t” live there at the moment–though that was the plan–that someone there can appreciate my photos from in country.

      Best,
      Michael

  3. alex says:

    very nice pic… congratulation, i will post in my facebook to

    mr. alex

  4. Gunjan says:

    I really liked the pictures….U can be a good photographer. Specially capturing the road side miseries shows the sad situation in Burma. Also all pagoda pictures are beautiful..

    • vagabondwithfamily says:

      Thank you! I enjoyed my times there and would love to move there one day. I hope that all goes well for the country!

  5. Yves Bourny says:

    Great pics MJB. Thanks

  6. Thomas says:

    You are a very good photographer indeed !! Is it allowed to put some of this is my facebook?
    Are you married to the Myanmar lady ? I am too ! Thomas

    • vagabondwithfamily says:

      Hi, thanks for writing and looking. I appreciate the comment about my photography!

      I am married to a Taiwanese women, by the way.

      From what I understand, if you wanted to share the pics, you can copy the address and simply link it in your FB.

      Cheers!
      MJB in Taiwan

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