Walking down the streets of downtown Yangon, old and dilapitated buildings loom like ghosts from another time. The decaying facade of these buildings are filled with old paint and small trees squeezing through those little cracks. The buildings are still above all standing as they have been for over a century. It is like a gold mine for people who is interested in colonial era architecture. Yangon was one of the British’s great capitals and they have incorporated a very impressive town planning effort that has its legacy preserved til this day. The British rebuilt the lower section of the town in a extremely well organised geometrical grid system. Today, finding your way around the town area is still rather easy thanks to this.
Yangon is the last city to have it’s colonial core intact as compared to other nations of the Southeast Asia region. Still pretty much preserved like the old days, the skyline of the town area is mostly dominated by old colonial buildings. Since Yangon was also an important port, immigrants from almost everywhere back then began to flow into the city at the start of the 20th century. Most of them live in the capital’s business district and brought with them their own culture and religions. That is why Yangon has a fantastic mixture of mosques, churches, temples and even a synagogue that stands shoulder-to-shoulder to Buddhist pagodas. This is what made me fell in love with the city.
A sad note is that we can see that since the nation’s market has opened up, foreign investors are rushing into the city to grab this opportunity for development. Everyone seems to want a piece of this untamed land for business. We could see that many of these colonial buildings are already marked for demolition and to be transformed into modern high-rises or luxury hotels. In the race against time to safeguard Yangon’s heritage the next few years will be critical. I foresee that soon in the near future, many of these colonial buildings will be torn down and will look like another Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.
Despite all the colonial buildings that conquers the entire downtown area of Yangon, there are a few rather special colonial buildings that are worth a mention. We tried our best to walk and search for a few of these historical buildings in the hot sun. Fortunately, we managed to capture a few shots to share it with everyone.