We arrived in the early evening after a quick flight in from Bangkok. The terminal was small, bare, and felt as if it was just beginning to gain some of the modern features seen in other international airports. I wouldn’t say that it felt like the 3rd world, as there were definite modern touches. It just felt as if it were a couple decades behind what we’re typically used to.
Before leaving New York, we made a point (by we I really mean Lauren) of making sure we had gotten our visas for Myanmar, having heard stories of how difficult they were to obtain. After several missteps, most notably with the fact that my own passport had never been signed, she managed to secure us our right to travel into Yangon. So it was with a tad bit of disbelief that we arrived and found several booths stating “Visa on Arrival” with no apparent lines. Good to know for the future that this process is being streamlined.
Immigration itself was a breeze. We managed to get through with no trouble, secure our bags and get through customs easily. Then came the onslaught of taxi drivers.
It seems that Taxis are possibly the number one source of employment here (totally unverified fact), as there are hundreds of available taxis, not only at the airport, but all over the city. We initially were approached by a driver who creeped us out a little by his following us around, trying to get us into his car, so at our first opportunity we ditched him and grabbed a different driver. While I feel a bit bad about the situation, it turned out okay, as our new driver was a very friendly man, who has been to the US a couple times in his life and had tons of tips for us on places to eat.
Just a quick note on taxis in Yangon. There do not appear to be any meters in taxis here, however we haven’t found any of them to be gouging us in pricing so far. The beauty is, there are so many available drivers, that if you’re not sure, just flag down someone else and ask how much. Getting an english speaking driver is a tad hit or miss, but most of them seem to know just enough.
The streets are busy and full of both pedestrians and cars. I get the feeling that the rules of the road are much less defined here, as pedestrians will walk into the middle of the street and stand there, forcing cars to drive around them. The drivers don’t really seem to take much notice, as if this is just the way society works here.
In the evening, we decided to trek out and see the Schwedagon Pagoda. Though we decided to save some money and not go inside, the outside of it is absolutely stunning at night, with the spotlights reflecting against the gold exterior, across the night sky.
I’ll upload more pictures later, once we hit more stable wifi.