‘Mostly horribly old and overcrowded’: This Yangon travel blog is pretty devastating

Travel blogging is hard. Enthuse too much about a place and you sound wide-eyed and naïve. Take a more critical approach at your peril.

But one American-Canadian couple held nothing back in penning this deeply unflattering post about Yangon on their blog, Experimental Expats, this week.

In between praising the “beautifully perfect white teeth” of Myanmar people as opposed to the “obnoxious” Chinese, American-Canadian couple Rob and Diane, who live in Malaysia, paint a picture of Yangon as a “mostly horribly old and overcrowded working class inner city struggling to find a new image”.

It’s worth reading the thing in its entirety, but here are some choice extracts.

On Yangon’s downtown, home to the densest collection of colonial buildings of any city in Asia…

“Interspersed with a few modern buildings we found a mostly horribly old and overcrowded working class inner city struggling to find a new image but littered with mounds of crumbling old buildings, tons of garbage and dirt everywhere, traffic that doesn’t move and sidewalks so cluttered with vendors and small shops it’s almost impossible to move.”

On ‘the Burmese’…

“Blessed with beautiful features like long flowing hair, beautifully perfect white teeth, great complexions and smiles that steal you [sic] heart, the Burmese deserve better than what they’ve had and hopefully the new democratically elected government will bring the dilapidated infrastructure into the 21st century.”

On, er, Shwedagon…?

“Literally stuck right in the middle of what initially looks like a commercial asking for money to help feed the hungry, one stroll through the area immediately tells you how Myanmar is no sub Saharan African nation despite being sandwiched between Pakistan and Angola on the Quality of Life Index of 190 nations. Friendly, engaging and full of life, you forgot the dust, sand and garbage that litters the city because the people are wonderfully endearing with good hearts.”

On ‘capitalism in Southeast Asia’…

“Given its ranking as number 148 out of 191 countries on the quality of life scale, it’s the strangest contrast we’ve ever seen where some western chains like KFC, Swenson’s San Francisco Ice Cream and The Pizza Place are strategically placed right next to street vendors struggling to sell freshly skinned chickens, shrimp decaying in the hot sun with flies hovering over them and innards of every kind that look so unappetizing only the poorest residents would eat them. But that’s capitalism in Southeast Asia.”

On Chinese nationals…

“Hello in Burmese is “Ming-a-la-bah” and thank you is “Jay-sue-bah“. Everyone says it to you and while the Thai are quickly shedding their reputation as The Land of Smiles thanks to throngs of horribly obnoxious mainland Chinese tourists invading like flies, the Burmese remain genuine and good-natured.”

Thanks for the laughs, Rob and Diane, but, just FYI, some people are kind of fond of this “horribly old” city.

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