I was walking around the teeming streets of downtown Yangon (formerly Rangoon) with a new local friend. As we conversed, he pointed out different street stalls and buildings. There was a particular building that he gestured at and said it was one of the oldest buildings in the area. I took out my camera and started taking pictures of it. He chuckled and remarked, “ohh, so you’re one of those tourists who love old buildings. I just don’t get why tourists love these old buildings so much.”
At first I was a bit taken back because surely I wasn’t one of those tourists. I couldn’t possibly be the oblivious kind who’d exoticize the country’s people and locale, its colonial history, and remnants of a bygone era. However, in my internal insistence that I was a culturally aware and sensitive traveler, I realize that I too romanticize about what Yangon is and should be.
Indeed, one of the hallmarks of the cityscape of Yangon is the crumbling British colonial era buildings. Tourists often see these buildings as a beautiful tragedy—a reminder of a glorious colonial era, yet an emblem of a decaying urban center. As certain tourists, and myself included, romanticize about the architecture and orate about its aesthetics, what do locals think about it? Are these buildings still architectural gems or do they pose a physical threat to their inhabitants? Do these buildings represent the strength, resilience, and fortitude of the Burmese people or do they simply serve as an innocuous backdrop to Yangon’s residents lives? Would folks prefer to conserve these buildings or tear them down to build newer ones? Have the dialogues around conserving and retrofitting these buildings been co-opted by outsiders?
This post is dedicated to my dear friend A who will be visiting Thailand (and other countries) after kicking butt on the bar exam later this month! Also, the hot weather is making me dream about the cool delicious concoctions in Thailand… I realize that I did not take that many photos in Thailand, possibly because I was too busy eating and drinking.
The cutest couple ever… selling iced tea and iced coffee near my guesthouse.
Delicious icy mix of barley, pumpkin, corn, beans, mochi, jelly, etc.. first time I’ve ever seen anything like this! The stand is near the Chong Nonsi BTS.
It has been exactly a month since I’ve been back in the States! Time sure flies.. even if I don’t have a full-time job, YET! Anyways, I’m not sure what my blog will consist of now since I am no longer living abroad or traveling. My daily routines are not exactly blog-worthy either and I’ve gotten into the habit of writing in a real journal. I’m also too lazy to create a new blog since only a handful of friends ever read this.. so I will just stick with this blog and periodically update about my life and post pictures 🙂
On 4th of July, I went hiking with my dad and brothers on the hills near our house. Here are some pictures from our excursion:
Inle Lake has a special place in my heart because its cooler weather was a much welcome escape from the aridity of Bagan, where I was right before. I also had a horrific case of food poisoning in Bagan, so it was pleasant to recover in the tranquility of Inle Lake. Despite the cloudiness and and less than optimal lighting, I took some of my favorite pictures of the trip here. Here’s the first batch of photos from Inle!
I’ve been back in the Bay for almost a week now! It has been such a pleasant transition back–loving family, delicious homecooking, and barely any jet lag. Since I’ve been back, I’ve shared plenty of stories about Vietnam with my family and have reminisced fondly about my time there, but I haven’t missed being in Vietnam. It’s probably because I’ve really enjoyed being back in the bay, spending time and catching up with family and friends, whom I haven’t seen in a year, and whom I barely saw in the past three years.
The weekend that I got back, three of my cousins and a nephew from southern California came up to visit. It was heartwarming to see them especially since I haven’t seen them in a few years and one of my cousins just got back from a year in Afghanistan, so this has been a special homecoming on all fronts. I was also welcomed back by a generous goodies box from my dear friend D, who’s in the midst of traveling all over Asia right now (!!), to help me reintegrate back into American society.
Things I’m looking forward to this week:
+enrolling in a local art class
+driving my mom to Costco and burning Vietnamese music CDs for her
+making Father’s Day dinner
+hanging out with my uncles
+watching the NBA finals
+applying for jobs
+preparing for an interview next week
+going through all my photos from my recent trip (possibly update my website.. that has been neglected for too long!)
+catching up with more friends
In the meantime, here are some photos from various food stalls at a night market at the On Nut BTS near the guesthouse I was staying in Bangkok. I had a lovely time in Thailand (Bangkok and Koh Tao), but it didn’t get enough loving on my blog! I mostly walked around various neighborhoods, checked out bookstores, ate and shop at night markets in Bangkok, so I actually did not take that many pictures, compared to my time in Cambodia and Burma.