Had a lot going on in life lately - went to Myanmar (Burma), found out we have to move because the landlady will be letting her sister live here more or less permanently (I'm devastated and Brendan is upset too, although he doesn't show it as much), lots of post-Chinese-New-Year work.
So, in lieu of actually posting something, here are some photos from Rangoon, with more photos of other parts of Myanmar to follow.
I really enjoyed Yangon (Rangoon) - it's quieter and more manageable than other capital cities in the developing world (I realize it's no longer the capital, but for all intents and purposes it may as well be), and a lot of quiet, faded, somewhat melancholic charm still exists (well, the melancholy has probably been settling over the city over time). In some ways, it's like a smaller, less European version of Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul. It lacks the decent public transportation of other cities but makes up for it with cheap, mostly honest cab drivers.
And, beyond the temples and Raj-era architecture, it has a few of its own colorful, eccentric gems.
It's got a night life and street food scene not too different from Taipei's: what it lacks in full night markets it makes up for roadside stands selling Burmese, Thai, Indian and Chinese treats and beer gardens, mostly serving noodles, hamburgers and Chinese-style ("Burmese Chinese") food.
Rangoon is also incredibly diverse - it is not uncommon to see a guy who looks thoroughly Chinese chatting, in Burmese, with a guy who is obviously South Indian in ancestry, Burmese both being one of their native languages, while a Bamar guy nods in time with the conversation. In fact, we did see that.
I did not enjoy the gauntlet-like sidewalks or dim, hazy air, but I did enjoy the vibrant street life, roadside tea shops with low stools (well, my back didn't really enjoy the stools), the temples plopped down in traffic circles and the general time-capsule-just-opened eccentricity of the place...although I do realize that urban character, partly a result of being shut off from the rest of the world for so long, comes at a steep price to the people and the economy they live in.
Everywhere you go, you see Buddhas and stupas, Buddhas and stupas. While after awhile they all do start to look the same, if you don't let yourself get too dulled by the Buddhas-and-stupas you'll see that they're all quite different in style and design (well, the Buddhas are. The stupas really all do look about the same). Different sizes, details, clothing, colors, facial expressions, the lot.