Ye Le Paya at Kyauk Tan means the pagoda in mid-stream built on a laterite reef. It was built by King Zeyasana, the seventh king of the Pada Dynasty in the third century BC. The first pagoda was only 11 feet high. The pagoda complex comprises several buildings including a monastery. Pilgrims and visitors are ferried across to the pagoda. One can feed shoals of long river catfish, which surface to snatch tit-bits of food thrown at them. When food is thrown, they reach out to snap at it, revealing their size, which can reach up to one meter in length.
Thanlyin, more commonly pronounced Tanyin and formerly Syriam, is a city in Yangon Division in Myanmar (Burma). It is located on the Bago River, and is a major port.
The Portuguese and Eurasian survivors of de Brito's band were taken to the villages of Monhla and Chantha in the Mu River valley near Shwebo. Called bayin ji (great kings), their fair-haired, European featured descendants still live and follow the Catholic faith in these villages, but have become assimilated to the surrounding Bamar.
Points of Interest
Yangon - Rangoon
Yangon (also known as Rangoon) is the largest city and a former capital of Burma. It is the capital of Yangon Division. Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial center.
Yangon's infrastructure is relatively undeveloped compared to those of other major cities in Southeast Asia. Yangon has the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia today. While many high-rise residential and commercial buildings have been constructed or renovated throughout downtown and Greater Yangon in the past two decades, most satellite towns that ring the city continue to be deeply impoverished.
Colonial Rangoon (1852–1948)
Colonial Yangon, with its spacious parks and lakes and mix of modern buildings and traditional wooden architecture, was known as ‘the garden city of the East.’ By the early 20th century, Yangon had public services and infrastructure on par with London.
Before World War II, about 55% of Yangon's population of 500,000 was Indian or South Asian, and only about a third was Bamar (Burman). Karens, the Chinese, the Anglo-Burmese and others made up the rest.
After World War I, Yangon became the epicenter of Burmese independence movement, with leftist Rangoon University students leading the way. Three nationwide strikes against the British in 1920, 1936 and 1938 all began in Yangon. Yangon was under Japanese occupation (1942–45), and incurred heavy damage during World War II. Yangon became the capital of Union of Burma on 4 January 1948 when the country regained independence from the British.
Contemporary Yangon (1948 to present)
Since independence, Yangon has expanded outwards. Successive governments have built satellite towns such as Thuwunna and Okkalapa in the 1950s to Dagon Myothit (New Dagon) in the 1990s. Today, Greater Yangon encompasses an area covering nearly 600 km².
During Gen. Ne Win's isolationist rule (1962–88), Yangon's infrastructure deteriorated through poor maintenance and did not keep up with its increasing population. In the 1990s, the current military government's relatively more open market policies attracted domestic and foreign investment, bringing a modicum of modernity to the city's infrastructure. Some inner city residents were forcibly relocated to new satellite towns. Many colonial-period buildings were demolished to make way for high-rise hotels, office buildings, and shopping malls, leading the city government to place about 200 notable colonial-period buildings under a ‘Heritage List’. Major road and bridge-building programs have resulted in six new bridges, and five new highways linking the city to its industrial hinterland. Still, much of Yangon remains without basic municipal services such as 24-hour electricity and regular rubbish collection.
Yangon has become much more indigenous Burmese in its ethnic make-up since independence. After independence, many South Asians and Anglo-Burmese left. Many more South Asians were forced to leave during the 1960s by Gen. Ne Win's xenophobic government. Nevertheless, sizable South Asian and Chinese communities still exist in Yangon. The Anglo-Burmese have effectively disappeared, having left the country or intermarried with other Burmese groups.
Yangon was the center of major anti-government protests in 1974, 1988 and 2007. The city’s streets saw bloodshed each time as protesters were gunned down by the government. In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit Yangon. While the city had few human casualties, three quarters of Yangon's industrial infrastructure was destroyed or damaged, with losses estimated at US$800 million.
In November 2005, the military government designated Naypyidaw, 200 miles (322 km) north, as the new administrative capital, and subsequently moved much of the government to the newly developed city. At any rate, Yangon remains the largest city, and the most important commercial center of Burma.
A latter day hallmark of Yangon is the eight-story apartment building. (In Yangon parlance, a building with no elevators (lifts) is called an apartment building and one with elevators is called a condominium. Condos which have to invest in a local power generator to ensure 24-hour electricity for the elevators are beyond the reach of most Yangonites.) Found throughout the city in various forms, eight-story apartment buildings provide relatively inexpensive housing for many Yangonites. The apartments are usually eight stories high (including the ground floor) mainly because the city regulation, until February 2008, required that all buildings higher than 75 feet or eight stories install elevators). The current code calls for elevators in buildings higher than 62 feet or six stories, likely ushering in the era of the six-story apartment building. Although most apartment buildings were built only within the last 20 years, they look much older and rundown due to shoddy construction and lack of proper maintenance.
Unlike other major Asian cities, Yangon does not have any skyscrapers. Aside from a few high-rise hotels and office towers downtown, most high-rise buildings (usually 10 stories and up) are ‘condos’ scattered across prosperous neighborhoods north of downtown such as Bahan, Dagon, Kamayut and Mayangon. The tallest building in Yangon, Pyay Gardens, is a 25-story condo in the city’s north.
Older satellite towns such as Thaketa, North Okkalapa and South Okkalapa are lined mostly with one to two story detached houses with access to the city's electricity grid. Newer satellite towns such as North Dagon and South Dagon are still essentially slums in a grid layout. The satellite towns – old or new – receive little or no municipal services.
* Broad 160-foot (49-m) wide roads running west to east
The pattern of south to north roads is as follows: one broad 100-foot (30 m) wide broad road, two narrow streets, one mid-size street, two more narrow streets, and then another 100-foot (30 m) wide broad road. This order is repeated from west to east. The narrow streets are numbered; the medium and broad roads are named. For example, the 100-foot (30 m) Lanmadaw Road is followed by 30-foot (9.1 m)-wide 17th and 18th streets then the medium 50-foot (15 m) Sint-Oh-Dan Road, the 30-foot 19th and 20th streets, followed by another 100-foot (30 m) wide Latha Road, followed again by the two numbered small roads 21st and 22nd streets, and so on.
The roads running parallel west to east were the Strand Road, Merchant Road, Maha Bandula (nee Dalhousie) Road, Anawrahta (Fraser) Road, and Bogyoke Aung San (Montgomery) Road.
Parks and gardens
Hlawga National Park and Allied War Memorial at the outskirts of the city are popular day-trip destinations with the well-to-do and tourists.
Western District (Downtown): Eastern District: Southern District: Northern District
Yangon Circular Railway runs a 45.9-kilometre (28.5 mi) 39-station commuter rail network that connects Yangon's satellite towns. The system is heavily utilized by the local populace, selling about 150,000 tickets daily. The popularity of the commuter line has jumped since the government reduced petrol subsidies in August 2007.
Buses and cars
Motor transportation in Yangon is highly expensive for most of its citizens. As the government allows only a few thousand cars to be imported each year in a country with over 50 million people, car prices in Yangon (and in Myanmar) are among the highest in the world. In July 2008, the two most popular cars in Yangon, 1986/87 Nissan Sunny Super Saloon and 1988 Toyota Corolla SE Limited, cost about US$20,000 and US$29,000 respectively. A sports utility vehicle, imported for around US$50,000, goes for US$250,000. Illegally imported unregistered cars are cheaper – typically about half the price of registered cars. Nonetheless, car usage in Yangon is on the rise, and already causes much traffic congestion in highway-less Yangon's streets. As of March 2008, Yangon had over 173,000 registered motor vehicles in addition to an unknown number of unregistered ones.
Since 1970, cars are driven on the right side of the road in Myanmar. However, as the government has not required left hand drive (LHD) cars to accompany the right side road rules, many cars on the road are still right hand drive (RHD) made for driving on the left side. Japanese used cars, which make up most of the country's imports, still arrive with RHD and are never converted to LHD. As a result, Burmese drivers have to rely on their passengers when passing other cars.
Within Yangon, it is illegal to drive trishaws, bicycles, and motorcycles.
Yangon is the most ethnically diverse city in the country. While the Indians formed the slight majority prior to World War II, today, the majority of the population is of Bamar (Burman) descent. Large communities of Indians/South Asians and the Chinese still exist especially in the traditional downtown neighborhoods. Intermarriage between ethnic groups--especially between the Bamar and the Chinese, and the Bamar and other indigenous Burmese--is common.
Burmese is the principal language of the city. English is by far the preferred second language of the educated class. In recent years, however, the prospect of overseas job opportunities has enticed some to study other languages: Mandarin Chinese is most popular, followed by Japanese, French, and Korean.
Yangon is the country's hub for the movie, music, advertising, newspaper and book publishing industries. All media is heavily regulated by the military government. (Television broadcasting is off limits to the private sector.) All media content must first be approved by the government's media censor board, Press Scrutiny and Registration Division.
All television channels in the country are broadcast from Yangon. TV Myanmar and Myawaddy are the two main channels, providing Burmese language programming in news and entertainment. Other special interest channels are MWD-1 and MWD-2, MRTV-3, the English language channel that targets overseas audiences via satellite and via Internet, MRTV-4 with a focus on non-formal education programs and movies, and Movie 5, a Pay-TV channel specializing in broadcasting foreign movies.
Yangon has only two radio stations. Myanmar Radio National Service is the national radio service and broadcasts mostly in Burmese (and in English during specific times.) Pop-culture oriented Yangon City FM specializes in Burmese and English pop music, entertainment programs, live celebrity interviews, etc.
Nearly all print media and industries are based out of Yangon. All three national newspapers – two Burmese language dailies Myanma Alin and Kyemon, and the English language The New Light of Myanmar are published by the government. Semi-governmental The Myanmar Times weekly, published in Burmese and in English, is mainly geared for Yangon's expatriate community. Over twenty special interest journals and magazines covering sports, fashion, finance, crime, literature (but never politics) vie for the readership of the general populace.
Access to foreign media is extremely difficult. Satellite television in Yangon (and in Myanmar) is highly expensive as the government imposes an annual registration fee of one million kyats (US$780). Certain foreign newspapers and periodicals such as the International Herald Tribune and the Straits Times can be found only in a few (mostly downtown) bookstores. Internet access in Yangon, which has the best telecommunication infrastructure in the country, is slow and erratic at best, and the Burmese government implements one of the world's most restrictive regimes of Internet control.
International text messaging and voice messaging was permitted only in August 2008.
Yangon is also home to many paya pwes (pagoda festivals), held during dry-season months (November–March). The most famous of all, the Shwedagon Pagoda Festival in March, attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the country.
The city's museums are the domain of tourists and rarely visited by the locals.
Most of Yangon's larger hotels offer some kind of nightlife entertainment, geared towards tourists and the well-to-do Burmese. Some hotels offer traditional Burmese performing arts shows complete with a traditional Burmese orchestra. The pub scene in larger hotels is more or less the same as elsewhere in Asia. Other options include karaoke bars and pub restaurants in Yangon Chinatown.
Yangonites carry stashes of cash to go on shopping. Credit cards are accepted only in a few high end hotels.
Yangon is also home to annual the Myanmar Open golf tournament, and the Myanmar Open tennis tournament. The city hosted 1961 and 1969 South East Asian Games.
The city is Lower Myanmar’s main trading hub for all kinds of merchandise – from basic food stuffs to used cars although commerce continues to be hampered by the city's severely underdeveloped banking industry and communication infrastructure. Bayinnaung Market is the largest wholesale center in the country for rice, beans and pulses, and other agricultural commodities. Much of the country’s legal imports and exports go through Thilawa port, the largest and busiest port in Myanmar.
Manufacturing accounts for a sizable share of employment. At least 14 light industrial zones ring Yangon, employing thousands of workers. But the industrial zones suffer from both structural problems (e.g., chronic power shortages) and political problems (i.e. Western economic sanctions). While Yangon's 2500 factories alone need about 120 MW of power, the entire city receives only about 250 MW of the 530 MW needed. Chronic power shortages limit the factories' operating hours between 8 am and 6 pm.
Construction is a major source of employment in this city of six million. Construction industry has been negatively affected by the move of state apparatus and civil servants to Naypyidaw. New construction activity has declined markedly since. Yangon’s property market is the most expensive in the country and beyond the reach of most Yangonites. Most people rent though few could afford downtown area apartments. (In 2008, rents for a typical 650-to-750 square foot apartments in downtown and vicinity range between K70,000 (US$60) and K150,000 (US$125) and those for high end condos between K200,000 (US$165) and K500,000 (US$415).)
Tourism represents a major source of foreign currency for the city although by Southeast Asian standards the actual number of foreign visitors to Yangon has always been quite low (about 250,000 before Saffron Revolution in September 2007). Cyclone Nargis dampened tourism even farther. The 2008 tourist arrivals at Yangon International are down to less than 50% from the previous year. Yangon's international standard hotels, built with foreign investment in the 1990s, still await the influx of tourists for which they were built.
While many students in poor districts fail to reach high school, a handful of Yangon high schools in wealthier districts like TTC, Dagon 1 and Latha 2 regularly send the bulk of the students entering the most selective universities in the country. The wealthy bypass the Burmese education system altogether, sending their children to private English language instruction schools like ILBC and YIEC for primary and secondary education, and abroad (typically Singapore or Australia) for university education. In 2008, international schools in Yangon cost at least US$8,000 a year.
Yangon is home to over 20 universities and colleges. While Yangon University remains the most well-known--its main campus is a part of popular Burmese culture (literature, music, film, etc.), the nation's oldest university today for the most part is a graduate school, deprived of undergraduate studies. Following the 1988 nationwide uprising, the military government has repeatedly shut down universities, and has dispersed most of undergraduate student population to new universities suburbs such as Dagon University, University of East Yangon and University of West Yangon. Nonetheless many of the country's national and most selective universities remain in Yangon. Students from around the country still come to study in Yangon as some subject matters are offered only at its universities. The city's University of Medicine 1, University of Medicine 2, Yangon Technological University, University of Computer Studies, Yangon and Myanmar Maritime University are the most selective in the country.
To be sure, wealthier Yangonites still have access to country's best medical facilities and internationally qualified physicians and surgeons in all branches of medicine. (As many Burmese physicians have emigrated abroad, only do Yangon and Mandalay have any sizable number of physicians left.) The well-to-do go to private clinics or hospitals like Pun Hlaing International Hospital and Bahosi Medical Clinic. A routine ten-day private hospital stay reportedly costs about K2.5 million (US$2300). The rich and top military brass routinely go abroad (usually Bangkok or Singapore) for treatment.
Museums and art galleries
Concert halls and theatres
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