The Streets of Yangon

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Yangon is dominated by the port district which was the heart of the city during British colonial times. The three/four-storey buildings in the nearby streets were mostly built between 1900-1920. While some have been left to rot, some (mostly banks) have been recently restored. It is easy to imagine how impressive this city must have been to visitors from the countryside. Yangon is the spoken version of the written form ‘Rangoon’ and that is why the British called this place Rangoon.

Here is a collection of photos of the colonial period buildings, starting with Yangon City Hall and walking down towards the Pansodan Ferry Terminal.

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One of the meeting points for people here is the Mahabandula Park, and depending which way you look, you see old-style highrise and new-style highrise buildings, and pale skies or blue skies. (I found balancing the light and colour in my photos quite problematic, especially when a lot were taken in the shade as that is where the people were.)

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The red and cream-coloured building (below right) is typical of a Biritish colonial institution, while on the left is a classical Buddhist structure scene around ever corner here in Myanmar.

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And, along every street you will find people eating at street stalls, and gold-painted trees.

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Look closely at the faces of the women and you will often see dabs of the yellowish-white paste called thanaka. This is made by grinding a tree bark and is thought to protect the skin from the sun. Some ladies use a more watered down version as a foundation and cover their whole faces, giving them a paler look. Nowadays even the young men wear thanaka but more like decoration with a spot on the nose or the ear lobes, and some with quite elaborate designs.


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© Helen Gray 2020