Many people who have lived in Yangon for a long time might have notice that Yangon has changed. Of course, like everything, there are certain things we miss about the change and development. And, people like me like to write it all down in paper.
Yes, Yangon has changed over the past few years. Many people now have access to mobile phones, electricity is less of a problem, we can speak openly about politics (yes I used to be scared to speak politics even in my house!) and most importantly, many people can now afford cars, roads are better etc..etc.. the benefits are heaps!
However, I think many of us Yangooners do miss a few things as the city develops. These are a list of things I miss.
- Electricity is gone! What to do? Back in the day, electricity was a rare commodity in Yangon. Adults are normally frustrated by the fact that they can’t iron, cook or use their washing machines but for children, no electricity means playing in the streets and speaking to neighbors! Many people now might already know how hot Yangon is. When there is no AC in the room, it is almost impossible to stay inside (at night), forcing people to chill out on the streets and that is exactly how we bond with neighbors! Also remember the last time you screamed yayyy with your neighbors to welcome back the electricity? 😉
- Phones: Till early 2012, phones used to be a luxury ($3000 for a sim card)! My oldest brother had a phone so that parents could stay in touch with us at school through him. But, not having a phone was cool because the kids would spend more time playing games, going out in the roads and running around rather than just staring at the screen. I used to remember the phone number of all my friend’s houses by-heart and we would prank call their houses using our landline. It was fun. Sometimes, cheeky me would give the number of my pretty friends to my brothers and ask them to tease her. It was another excitement cause you do not know who was going to pick up the phone. Brother? Mother? Sister? Or the girl herself! Normally parents would question if the voice was of a guy and some parents might even refuse to give the phone. Anyhow, it is a fun experience I definitely miss, which children of Yangon today will not understand.
- Internet: Access Denied. Everyday in school the challenge was about getting new proxy servers to bypass the websites denied access by the government. Having said that, many might think I was looking into some weird website but then, you will be surprised to know that all the emails websites, msn, yahoo and even BBC was denied access in the country. I think my first email was via Snail Mail cause the government probably forgot to block that one small website which gave away free email IDs. Well, the most exciting thing about the internet was when you use dial-up internet connections. Tinn…ti ti ti…toooon…. I will never forget that sound! The internet doesn’t work at all times and when it does, all the siblings in the house go crazy. The funniest thing was when you had to wake up silly hours at night to use the internet cause mom would say: “Guys, I have an important call coming up, make sure you guys are off the internet”. Ooh, things have clearly changed a lot ever since!
- Black Canyon Café: All the young adults who likes going to cafes to have European food or just a sip of hot chocolate with whipped cream would have been to Black Canyon. Located in the International Hotel compound, black canon was the only proper hangout place for many young people who like western food and cafe. Now, we barely go there cause we just have so many options! People might also have attachments with Coffee Circle as well..but mine was always Black Canyon!
- Traffic: What is it? I don’t think I need to expand on this. There was barely any car in the old Yangon since cars were just too expensive! At night, there would be literally no car, which allows kids to play football and badminton on the streets! Yes, we had a great life back then.
- Money! As in many other countries, inflation is another problem fostered by many little things. Who remembers buying sweets of 1 Kyats? Well I do! My pocket-money was 250 Kyats back in the day with which I could buy Star Cola and Toe Toe fries. They would just cost me 100 Kyats and I saved 150 Kyats everyday. Now, the price of Toe Toe has doubled and Star does not exist anymore. A business man once told me that; “Back in the days I had USD 500000 and I was happy. I could feed my kids, had a nice big house in the heart of the residential area but now, he has around 7 million USD and he is struggling to live the same life”.
I might have forgotten to include some important facts about old Yangon. Hence, your comments will come very handy in improving this post! Please feel free to suggest or comment 🙂