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The Water Festival in Myanmar (Thingyan) - Travel Report

The Water Festival in Myanmar (Thingyan) - Travel Report

Apr 22nd, 2018, 07:08 AM
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Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 182
The Water Festival in Myanmar (Thingyan) - Travel Report

Well, we have already booked our flights and hotels and then we realized it would be the Thingyan (i.e. the Water Festival) when we were in Yangon. Most shops, markets, restaurants, and spas would be closed; even overnight bus transportation from Yangon to Bagan would be suspended during that time. So, our plans to visiting some of the classic sights in Yangon had to be changed!

But well, it is only that week of the year when the Burmese government would loosen their restrictions on gatherings in the country’s former capital and biggest city, Yangon, it could be a unique time to witness how the locals could temporarily forget about their political and religious conflicts and truly enjoy the week-long holiday that they deserve.

For more info and photos about the celebration, welcome to visit my blog: https://knycxjourneying.com/2018/04/...some-rainbows/

Our Yangon Water Spraying Route

Since “No One is Safe” (What are you talking about? Those were blessings!) – water-proofing is key when you are wandering in any street in the city. Like us, we got splashed (or should I say, “blessed”) by a bunch of kids 15 seconds after we walked out of our hotel heading to the city center; and I have also seen taxi drivers put plastic to cover the inside of their vehicles. Well, too bad I didn’t bring a squirt gun with me for the party.
We explore the old town in Yangon that day and that’s where most of the celebration took place. Our hotel is a mere 5-minute walk away from the giant Shwedagon Pagoda, and it’s a 15-minute drive from the old town.

Really, nothing opens!

Although I have said it once, I say it again – all shops are closed during Thingyan! Therefore, when we reached our first stop, the Bogyoke Aung Sann Market, it was closed and we could just take some photos outside (We read on the Internet and the information has been inconsistent, some said about 20-30% of shops would still be opened during Thingyan, and we wanted to try our luck. As it turned out, the entire market was closed that day, and we couldn’t even go in). Afterward, we walked along Bo Gyoke Road to the nearby Yangon Central Railway Station. During the festival, the Bo Gyoke Road was quiet, with a few hawkers still in business along the 27th Street to the 36th Street along the Bo Gyoke Road. However, there might be party-goers splashing water from the pickup truck on the road so stay alert!

The Yangon Central Railway Station is a historic railway station built in 1877. The building was designed in the British Victorian style and the local train route (Yangon Circular Railway) still operates today, circulating the Yangon city in about 3 hours; like any “old” train systems in developing countries, the train services, however, is slow, unpunctual, and quite inefficient. Although many locals may still rely on the train line to commute these days, it was more like a sightseeing attraction to tourists as it definitely felt like traveling back in time when the train gliding through trees and old villages.

Splashing at Maha Bandula Park

We headed to the Sule Pagoda afterward, and we had a little lunch at the 999 Shan Noodle Shop. As I said not many places open during the festival, yet we were lucky enough to make a reservation for afternoon tea in the Strand hotel Yangon later.

The Sule Paya Pagoda is a good starting point to explore Yangon’s old town as it’s an intersection of Maha Bandula Road, as the Sule Pagoda Road. Many historical colonial style architectures are found along these roads, all the way to the Strand Road on the riverside.

The Maha Bandula Park has turned into a busy place with events and celebration parties. Loud music, bustling locals, and street vendors filled the place, with the Independence Monument, Yangon City Hall, and Yangon Region Court in the background. The Garden pool has become the ultimate water fight arena and I could feel icy water running through my back when we walked through the park.

We saw quite a few beautiful colonial-style buildings along our way to the Strand Hotel as well. Like Accountant General’s office, General Post Office, and the Lokanat Gallery. The Lokanat Gallery (and I have to mention it as I love art) is a yellow building and it showcases works of contemporary Burmese artists in the last four decades.

Time to Unwind in the Strand Hotel

After an afternoon of the water fight, we were already soaking wet. Luckily, the water did cool us down under the immense heat. The Strand Hotel was built in 1907 along the promenade of Yangoon River by the Sarkies brothers and Armenian hoteliers. We headed in the hotel’s café after changing into our dry clothes, and it was time to relax a little bit.

For some afterthoughts and tips ~ about the festival:
knycx_journeying is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2018, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,681
How was tea at the Strand? We always stay there, but we've never done afternoon tea.

I have to admit that I wouldn't want to be in Yangon in April - the hottest month of the year there! Yangon is very hot even during the "cool" season.
Kathie is offline  
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