Yangon, previously Rangoon, the capital of Myanmar is a busy city transitioning from closed economy to modernization. Entire city districts, especially near the river fronts were under construction in preparation for rural migrants and international investment. To my surprise, I ran into quite a few foreigners, from NGOs to UN and commercial stakeholder. However, not everything was as it seemed as the country learns how to implement democracy in spurts and starts. The country’s draconian laws and limited tourist infrastructure works to protect tourists to a fault, allowing for fairly safe exploration. I arrived the week of Union day, so preparations were under way around Independence Monument, so I headed to Schwedagon Padoga, People Park, and Kandawagyi Lake first, then observed some of the ceremony in the evening.
Sometimes it is easier to explore places where few tourists visit because the local people do not hold preconceptions usually created by rowdy or socially insensitive tourists. It is much easier to explore without attracting significant attention, and the locals are even pleasantly surprised to meet you. I’ve especially enjoyed eating at local food stops where the owner goes out of their way to make sure I enjoy the meal.