Since I am doing a city tour in Yangon I might as well have a look at the colonial buildings in downtown Yangon.
Yangon City Hall
The white grand building is one of the biggest buildings in Yangon – named City Hall which was constucted in 1926. The architecture is truly stunning, huge and in white color. It is also enlisted on the Yangon City Heritage List. It is located opposite of Maha Bandula Park, you can’t miss this beautiful buildings if you are in downtown Yangon. One of the best buildings in Yangon I have to say.
There is belcony at the City Hall building, also where General Aung San, father of Aung San Su Kyi gave his speech to the public.
Maha Bandula Park
Maha Bandula Park is the greenery garden in the center of downtown Yangon, not far from the City Hall Building. If you come in the evening, you see many people relaxing here. The park is named after General Maha Bandula who fought against the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826). There is an Independence Monument, an obelisk in commemoration of Burmese independence from the British planted in the middle of the park. This greenery garden park is like an oasis in the heart of the city. If you walk out from the oasis, you hear noises and see traffic jam but once you are inside the garden, you feel calm and peaceful. But, beware of beggars who run to you asking for money or someone who is trying to sell you postcards. They do no harm, don’t worry.
I seen this lion looking statues everywhere in Myanmar. It is actually called Chinthe, told by our taxi driver. The Chinthe is a lion-like creature that is often seen at the entrance of pagodas and temples in Myanmar.
Chinthe Statue in the centre of Maha Bandula Garden looking over High Court Yangon. Chinthe is always in pairs and serve to protect pagoda. At the entrance gate of Shwedagon Pagoda, there are also a giant pair of chinthes.
High Court Building
Another iconic colonial buildings would be the High Court. There is a bell clock tower and rooftop, but the clock is not working. The High Court building is also listed on the Yangon City Heritage list.
Immanuel Baptist Church
Built in 1885 by an American missionary, one of the oldest Baptist churches in Yangon. Located next to of Maha Bandula Park.
Sule Pagoda is also located in the heart of Yangon, near City Hall. The pagoda is about 48 meter high with golden dome, similar to other pagoda you see in Myanmar. What make Sule Pagoda unique are : It is located in the roundabout and the stupa is in octagonal shape. Sule Pagoda is so much smaller compared to Shwedagon Pagoda. There are shops surrounded the exterior base of the temple. It is more stunning to view it from the top or from outside. The Sule Pagoda was used to be a functional meeting point for anti-government and pro-democracy protesters during previous protests in Myanmar.
You don’t have to go in as it is better to see if from the outside or from the top. More grand looking at night when the light is up.
Motorbikes Ban in Yangon
Believe it or not, motorbikes are ban in Yangon. You don’t see any motorbike, except Police motor bikes. However motorbikes are allowed in the outskirt of Yangon, not in Yangon city. Some told the ban is that a person on a motorbike made a threatening gesture to a military general. He gotten so angry and implement the ban in Yangon City.
The streets are clogged with old vehicles, (most are imported scrapped cars from Japan) & you see trishaws, only one seater and some bicycles. Similar to Vietnam, people in Myanmar do not use pedestrian crossing to cross the road and no over bridge crossing. I suggest you to cross the road together with the locals, preferable in a group. That way the chances of getting hit is lower.
The public buses in front of the City Hall buildings are old fashion buses with window open, no air conditioning. Pack with local commuters and a conductor hangs at the side of the open door, seems very dangerous for us but look very normal for the local.
Final thoughts :
In the heart of the city of Yangon boast Colonial Buildings, Sule Pagoda and Maha Bandula Park. Yangon is the old capital of Myanmar and also Myanmar largest city and most important commercial centre. It is still very backward and far behind from other part of South East Asia country such as Thailand and Vietnam. This city use to be bustling trading hub at the turn of 19th century, but when the General Ne Win, a dictator who took over government, foreigners were forced to leave Yangon and the city deteriorated fast and fall behind. Many of the colonial buildings are still very run down and no maintainance and no restoration.