Yangon really surprised me – in all positive ways possible. Already at the airport in the very beginning when I had to find my connecting flight to Bagan, people seemed very friendly and helpful to me. Later throughout my trip when passing through Yangon on my way to the South, I was surprised by how welcoming and friendly the people were. At the hotel, the staff organized a taxi for me to catch the bus in the next morning, always repeating “Don’t worry, we make it work”. On a stroll around, looking for dinner, I was invited by a family in their restaurant for drinks. We shared smartphone pictures and a few words in English and everyone seemed genuinely happy to have me there. I felt so humbled. They served me their most expensive drink, a Red Bull, and I didn’t know how to explain that it was already 10 pm and I would not be able to sleep after drinking this. So I feigned drinking it up and they were so happy about having made me a pleasure.
At the very end of my trip, I came back to Yangon, unfortunately very stomach-sick and came down with a full-blown food-poisoning. The people were so nice at my hotel, looking after me and offering me water without even charging me for it. I felt really blessed and well cared for.
I spent my last night in Yangon at the Shwedagon Pagoda, after the heat was bearable in my shaky condition. I sat down on some steps and just watched the Burmese go about their religious duties around this sacred pagoda. Everything was bathed in a golden shimmer and it was such a peaceful and serene atmosphere. At some point, a young Burmese student sat down next to me and impressed me with his perfect English and his knowledge in European history. He was a history student and wanted to discuss German history and politics with me. We ended up talking for hours while the sun slowly set behind the golden hti of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The next morning, I mustered up all my courage ( I hadn’t eaten in two days and was still not able to keep anything in) and jumped on the circular train to explore a bit more of Yangon before catching my afternoon flight back home to Germany. And again, I was only greeted by smiles along the way, everyone was helpful in finding the station, the right track or anything else I might be looking for. I had left very early in the morning, when the heat was still bearable, and the streets were buzzing with life, monks were collecting almoses, vegetable and meat were sold in the streets and people were having their coffee and breakfast at one of the foodstuffs along the way. The atmosphere was busy but still relaxed and friendly – no comparison to other mega-cities like New-Delhi or Hanoi. Yangon is the first capital I would even go back to and I encourage every Myanmar traveller to spend at least two days in this astonishing capital.