Walking around Yangon, you can’t help but notice the mix of new construction, golden pagodas, and the crumbling faded glory of beautiful old buildings, many built between 1900 and 1930. I’ve always been fascinated in architecture, both old and new, so taking a walking tour to check out some of the heritage buildings of Yangon seemed like a slam dunk.
On our last day in Burma took an architectural walking tour of the city done by Robert Percival, an Australian living in Yangon. As far as I can tell he’s still there doing these tours at http://opening-up-burma-travel.info/. Unlike the food tour, we enjoyed every minute of this one.
Scroll down as we walk through Yangon to see intricately carved wooden decorations, street-side secretaries, and people protesting the government via a sit-in (something not even possible a few short years ago). We’ll eat eat freshly cooked naan bread, and walk through a building with the first working elevator in “Rangoon” now filled with squatters and rats as big as cats.
The first stop was a neighborhood which is now predominately Indian, but also has a catholic church and 1920’s Islamic inspired architecture. From there, it was exploring the remnants of colonial architecture and poking around the insides of crumbling buildings (with permission, of course).
This building doesn’t look like much on the outside but the view from the top of the park and surrounding buildings was spectacular.
Protesters doing a long term “sit-in” across from the government building.
The buildings have so much decay and moisture that there are plants growing out of every crevice.
Some buildings had squatters cooking over open fires inside.
This is a former law office building which had the first elevator in Yangon. Like many of the structures we visited, it’s filled with squatters and/or people paying $70 a year to live such “splendor” which included either no (or pirated) electricity, no running water, toilets in the hall and rats the size of cats amid the garbage, but with this glorious wrought iron elevator (now no longer working). Faded glamour for sure and crazy beautiful details amid the ruined buildings. I’m afraid much of this will disappear soon enough to make way for “progress”.
The inside air shaft of the law office building. Imagine the bottom filled with garbage and teeming with rats. Yep. Really.
Street-side secretaries; these ladies will type up anything you need for a fee.
This last building was right around the corner from our hotel and has beautiful but moldering woodwork inside.