Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sightseeing in Yangon, Myanmar

Sightseeing is always an exciting thing to do.  It is even more exciting in the first visit.

Yup, it was my first trip to Myanmar. The country is opening up! 
Sule Pagoda (left), City Hall (right)
Try to check the hotel room rates in Yangon and you will be amazed.  The demand is high and the number of hotels remains the same.  The room rate of five star hotels is probably around US$ 250-300/room/night.  Please note, the condition of five star hotels around the world varies.

Do you see many birds at the lamp?

Thanks to Google, I gathered some information in advance of the places I wanted to visit in Yangon.  I just walked out from the hotel and turned right leading to a bridge.  As from this bridge, I could see a pagoda (temple) at the end of this big street.

Sule Pagoda
Sule Pagoda

Sule Pagoda is situated in the center of Yangon, or to be exact it is at the roundabout of Sule Pagoda Road and Mahabandoola Road.  It is a busy area where cars and buses pass by and people cross the street.

The Mosque at the opposite side of Sule Pagoda
Anyway, crossing the street in Yangon is not a challenge.  Have you tried crossing the street in Saigon?  All the best for the newcomers! 

Sule Pagoda is said to be over 2,000 years old.  It has always been a religious and historic site.  The Pagoda is open for public with an entrance fee of US$2 or US$5, I can’t recall, my apology.

Pigeons in front of Sule Pagoda
There are a couple of women at the main entrance of the Pagoda who offered foreign visitor to feed the pigeons.  I often see pigeons flying around the Cathedral, but it was the first time I saw pigeons in front of the Pagoda.  It gives the same effect though, the peaceful atmosphere.

Sule Pagoda (back entrance)
The surrounding area has a few interesting attractions.  When I stood up at the back entrance of the Pagoda, I could see the City Hall cross the street.  The white building that was constructed in 1926 and designed by Burmese architect still looks elegant.

Independence Monument

I walked a little bit towards the Mahabandoola Park and saw the Independence Monument.  It is where the Independent of Declaration was signed, when Burma became independent from the British Colonial.

Its shape, an obelisk with a height of 46 meters, somehow reminds me of the National Monument in Jakarta, my home town.

I continued walking and saw Immanuel Church, and next to it is an ancient colonial style building that apparently is the High Court.

High Court

The Court building is very eye catching due to its red brick.  At first, it looks like a church to me.  In front of this Court, there are many street vendors selling food and drinks.

Cling cling cling... Did I hear church bells?  Tettt, wrong answer!  The sound is coming from a street vendor who is selling sugar cane juice!  The guy just puts bells at his small machine to squeeze the sugar cane!

While walking around Yangon that whole morning, I noticed Yangon still has the clear blue sky!  Some pics became more beautiful with the gorgeous natural blue color in the sky. Hope Yangon stays the same... Please keep the pollution level low...

Shwedagon Pagoda

Andrew, my tour guide says that if you have not visited Shwedagon Pagoda, you have not visited Yangon. I must agree with him.

Light to be switched on when it's dark
Shwedagon is 99 meter high and the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese. It has existed for more than 2,600 years, according to legend.

Sunset at Shwedagon
Best time coming here is at sunrise or sunset.  I visited the Pagoda just before the sunset.  The entrance fee costs US$5 for foreign visitors includes camera fee.

There are four entrance gates: south, east and north that are facilitated with elevators except the west. 
The west entrance was closed for many decades due to fire destruction in 1931.
It is now reopened, and is the longest of all the staircases, with 166 steps.


Andrew took me around the Pagoda.  He has good knowledge about Myanmar history. 
What is his educational background?  Yangon University, the Faculty of Myanmar History! 
His previous work was in F&B department of a Hotel in Yangon.

He asked me to stand in one particular spot somewhere in the Pagoda.  It is a little bit far from the crowd... 
When the sun hide from the earth...
when it started to get dark at sunset...
when the light was switched on…. 
See that tower with white light?
“Look at that light at the top of that tower. What color do you see?” he asked.


“Move one step forward. See that again. What is that color now?”


“Now, move one more step here. See that now? What’s that color?”


Amazing!  The same light at the same tower keeps on changing color depending on where we stand. 
Surprisingly, that change can only be seen with bare eyes.  I tried taking pics, my camera couldn’t capture that changing color.  All looks white. 
Andrew confirmed, it can only be noticed with bare eyes.

Peaceful prayers at sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda

I guess some things can just be appreciated naturally without sophisticated technology.

Thanks for taking this wonderful pic, Andrew!
Next?  More stories on Myanmar continue including the culinary experience…

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