A little of my thoughts on... Yangon, Myanmar.
"Currently it caters for the more adventurous traveller. Someone who doesn't think western privation is being without a McDonalds or Starbucks as a function for survival."
Living in south-east Asia provides me with the option to travel to more than a handful of interesting and unique countries, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Laos and in this case Myanmar.
It is not surprising that Bangkok is a hub for travellers around Asia. I meet scores of people whom stay in Bangkok for a couple of days on their way to Australia, Japan or Singapore. You can easily visit any country from Bangkok, and seeing as it is sometimes a stop-over on the aeroplane it only makes sense to stay a few days to check out the city.
So taking this into account where shall one go next?
Looking at the map Myanmar always stood out to me as an interesting destination.
Myanmar opening its doors to tourists since the dissolution of its military junta in 2011, this country seems very fresh, new and exciting. Not many people can say they have visited Myanmar and that makes an exciting proposal for me.
So I had four days to enjoy myself in Yangon, the former capitol of Myanmar.
Stepping off the plane the difference between Myanmar and Thailand is instantly apparent. The economy of Myanmar hasn't grown effectively enough due to its lack of development. A contrast to Bangkok indeed.
There are hotels, malls and buildings that are currently in development but it has not advanced thoroughly enough.
In a way I like this aspect.
Yangon has an effect of pre-westernisation. There are plenty of colonial type buildings around and of course the landscape isn't saturated with modern day skyscraper buildings, but is dominated by one building: Shwe Dagon, a pagoda over 2600 years old measuring over 120m in height and covered in gold.
Another thing I like about Yangon in particular is its peoples'. Consisting of mainly Burman, they are without a doubt some of the friendliest, helpful and quizzical people I have ever met.
Possibly they are new to seeing white western people but I don't think I passed one person who didn't offer a kind smile to me as I were walking down Yangon's scabrous streets (with its melodious car horns playing a concerto that delivers beside you with its never coming cadence).
People are very enthusiastic about meeting you. They come and shake your hand, ask you for your name and where you come from. Some try and sell you a tour or a little trinket but the majority are cutely inquisitive.
Myanmar right now is seeing an increase in tourism. With destinations including Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan, it is only a matter of time before development takes off in this region. As investors look into this country and take advantage of its natural resources, the feel and look of Myanmar will change into the more westernised world we see Asian countries turning themselves into.
Yangon in itself is a spot on the map where you could sample life before it gets too "touristy". Currently it caters for the more adventurous traveller. Someone who doesn't think western privation is being without a McDonalds or Starbucks as a function for survival.
Yangon has the effect of saying that it is Bangkok twenty years ago.