Today Jim and Debbie (who I am staying with) provided me with a whirlwind driving tour of Yangon. I was also able to do a bit of walking at night around the immediate neighborhood where I am staying (Bahan Township).
Here is what surprised me the most:
1) Chic locales peppered throughout the city. I was told that these have just started popping up over the last 6 months, fueled by the inflow of young ex-pats.
2) The contrast between decrepit, colonial-era building, and brand new high-rise buildings.
3) The lack of sidewalks (and consistent drainage!), and the crumbled mess where sidewalks do exist. People are forced to walk right beside cars buzzing by on the road.
4) The prevalence of diesel generators as a backup power source given the lack of consistent electricity.
5) The ratio between waitstaff (and other employees) and patrons. For example, at a restaurant where I went for dinner today, there were about four people intermittently waiting on me (I’ve been told that this occurs because of how cheap labor is).
6) People love hearing me try to speak Burmese, and they are quick to teach me new words.
For today, the pictures are mostly of the developing side of the city.
A chic cafe in Downtown Yangon called Easy and the delicious soybean pudding that I ordered:
A sandwich I ordered for lunch at a place in Downtown Yangon called Sprouts:
Lack of draining during a passing monsoon rain:
A walkway by Inya Lake that I explored at night. Couples sit huddled beneath umbrellas (their own private canopies) every 10 meters or so. This must be the local hangout spot!
Although Myanmar clearly appears to be a third world country, the rate of development appears to be tremendous: