Yangon

Yangon

Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was the capital of Myanmar until it was superseded by Naypyidaw in November 2005. Today, with a population of over 5 million people, it remains the largest city and main economic hub of Myanmar.

The city is an amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, and is known for its colonial architecture, which although decaying and beyond appreciation, remains an almost unique example of a 19th-century British colonial capital. New high-rise buildings were constructed from the 1990s (and some are scarily unoccupied and left as ghost skyscrapers and hotels as seen along Upper Pansodan Rd) as  the government began to allow private investment (while former national government buildings such as the massive Secretariat Building, as the capital is shifted to Naypyidaw, have been left to rot). However, Yangon continues to be a city of the past, as seen by itslongyi-wearing, betel nut chewing and spitting pedestrians, their friendly or even familial attitude towards strangers, its street vendors and  its pungent smells.

Weather in Yangon

Shwedagon

The Pagoda is actually shaped like a Greek cross. There are four entrances on each of the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west, flanked by gargantuan sculptures of mythical Burmese lions. These entrances open up to the four walkways as the appendages of the cross ascending to the top via flights of steps. At the top is the octagonal intersection of the cross which consists of the Stupa at the very center itself surrounded by shrines that can qualify as temples by themselves and separated from the Stupa by a vast open walkway paved with spic and span shiny marble tiles. The Stupa is further surrounded by a string of micro shrines – small celled structures housing the icon of the Buddha himself and interspersed by lion sculptures, and then further inwards, another string of micro stupas surround the Stupa superstructure

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi AC Burmese pronunciation: [àʊɴ sʰáɴ sṵ tɕì]; born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma. In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament . She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010, becoming one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners.

Suu Kyi received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the government of India and the International Simón Bolívar Prize from the government of Venezuela. In 2007, the Government of Canada made her an honorary citizen of that country, the fourth person ever to receive the honour. In 2011, she was awarded the Wallenberg Medal. On 19 September 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi was also presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, which is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States.

On 1 April 2012, her party, the National League for Democracy, announced that she was elected to the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of the Burmese parliament, representing the constituency of Kawhmu; her party also won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the lower house. The election results were confirmed by the official electoral commission the following day.

On 6 June 2013, Suu Kyi announced on the World Economic Forum’s website that she wants to run for the presidency in Myanmar’s 2015 elections. Suu Kyi is prohibited, however, from becoming president within the current constitution; this cannot be amended without the approval of at least one military legislator.

As of 2014, she is listed as the 61st most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

 

All pictures by the author mebes3t

 

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Burma – Myanmar

  • Bagan Myanmar
  • Anisakan Falls
  • Mingun Pagoda

Myanmar – Burma

 The Union of Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia, also known as Burma, which used to be the official name of the country until 1989. This change of name has been officially recognized by the United Nations, but some national governments, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and much of the Burmese population, do not recognize this name change, since they did not recognize the military government which instituted it. For the time being, however, Myanmar, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw, is still used by many regardless of their opinion.

Flag of Myanmar.svg

Since the 2010 election, the government has embarked on a series of reforms to direct the country towards liberal democracy, a mixed economy, and reconciliation, although doubts persist about the motives that underpin such reforms. The series of reforms includes the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, the granting of general amnesties for more than 200 political prisoners, new labour laws that permit labour unions and strikes, a relaxation of press censorship, and the regulation of currency practices.

In 1 April 2012 by-elections the NLD won 43 of the 45 available seats; previously an illegal organization, the NLD had never won a Burmese election until this time. The 2012 by-elections were also the first time that international representatives were allowed to monitor the voting process in Burma.  Following announcement of the by-elections, the Freedom House organization raised concerns about “reports of fraud and harassment in the lead up to elections, including the March 23 deportation of Somsri Hananuntasuk, executive director of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), a regional network of civil society organizations promoting democratization

History

 Previously an independent kingdom, in 1886 Burma was annexed by the British Empire to the colony of India. The Japanese Empire invaded and occupied the country during World War II but it was returned to British control.
In 1948 the nation became sovereign, as the Union of Burma, with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup led by General Ne Win. Win ruled for nearly 26 years, bringing in harsh reforms. In 1990 free elections were held, but were voided by the military, which refused to step down

Myanmar
Myanmar

 

Climate

Myanmar is considered to have 3 seasons. The hot season is usually from March-April, and temperatures then cool off during the rainy season from May-October. The peak tourism season is the cool season from November-February. Temperatures can climb as high as 36°C in Yangon in the hot season while in the cool season, noontime temperatures are usually a more bearable 32°C, with night temperatures falling to around 19°C. Mandalay is slightly cooler in the cool season, with temperatures falling as low as 13°C, while temperatures in the hot season can go as high as 37°C. Generally, Lower Myanmar, the area around Yangon, receives more rainfall than the drier Upper Myanmar (around Mandalay).

Visas

 Visas are required from all visitors except ASEAN, People’s Republic of China and Russian nationals. Electronic Myanmar visas are now available online at the eVisa site. Tourist visa applications cost US$30 and require a digital photograph and a credit card; if approved, the visa is valid for 28 days and must be used within 90 days.  Electronic visas can only be used if arriving via air to Yangon or Mandalay.

Myanmar has announced the resumption of Visa-On-Arrival (VOA) starting in June 2012 for several countries including all ASEAN member states, the EU, New Zealand and the USA. The following categories of VOA are available: BUSINESS VISA, valid up to 70 days upon entry; ENTRY VISA (Meetings/Workshops/Events) valid up to 28 days upon entry; TRANSIT VISA valid up to 24 hours upon entry. Ensure you check the embassy website for the specific details. Note that, according to the Myanmar government website there is no VOA for tourists, but Myanmar Airways claims that VOA is now available for tourists of all nationalities for USD 30 (as of February 2013), but only on flights with their airline from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Guangzhou.

 

All pictures by the author mebes3t

 

Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License    Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0