Rangoon City in which CountryYangon city, where the country
Rangoon (Yangon): Story - TravelAdvisor
Yangon has a relatively brief past as an important town. Last dynasty was established in 1752 by Alaungpaya, the Emperor. Yangon was erected by Alaungpaya, after he conquered lower Myanmar, in 1755. Prior to the construction of this town, the country was the former site of Pongon, which means "dragon" in English.
That was when the British were moving into the town. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Shedagonagoda, a 2,500-year-old buddhistic sanctuary and a high point in Yangon, was the centre of many civic activity. It was the British who chose this town, then known as Rangoon, as their capitol and ended the rule of Mandalay as Myanmar's butcher.
Trip to Myanmar
Yangon Circle Line is crawling 30 leagues around the town and its outskirts and lasts about 3 hrs, feeling like whole layers of the Yangon people. The Downtown Yangon is chaotic, clogged, loud and full of people. Rangoon was the former Burmese provincial capitol in British India.
Today the slow decaying skeleton of the abandoned settlement stands above lively India and China market, Hindus courts, Moslem mausoleums, and Buddha School. The 325-foot tower is lined with several tonnes of sheet metal and is encircled by tens of smaller carpentry and churches, all of which seem to be the most elaborate.
Some of Yangon's inner cities are as crowded and lively after sunset as during the daytime. Thousands of people come out to take part in the city's diverse eating habits, among them a road with a barbeque and an alehouse.
Canangon: Yangon: Present day past
Yangon: will be here soon. Sitting in the historical centre of the town was the secretarial building, the British Burmese Colonies headquarters, deserted and enclosed behind barbwire, leaves emerging from its shelter. Well-known as a minister since it became independent, the solid mass of solid bricks was put to the test in 2006 when the army ruling the nation for decade-long packing up and moving to a new state.
It has a new constitutional system, a new parliament and a national human rights commission. Nearly by defining, the junta's downfall means the ascent of Yangon, Myanmar's capital and biggest dock. Now Yangon is on the road to liberalisation, and a spectacular surge is spreading through the town.
In 2010, rental prices for offices have risen eight-fold; in 2013 alone, rental prices in the coveted districts rose by 50 inches. Yangon Airports recorded more than one million passengers arriving internationally in 2012, an year-on-year growth of 53 cents. It is a great challange for a town that has had no extensive municipal design expertise for almost a hundred years.
Subject to a coordinated efforts of urbanists, most of the new expansion will take the shape of urban dislocation - suburban unconventional housing developments that are not linked to utility companies or throughput. Last year, just a few months before I came to Myanmar, the Japan Cooperation Agency (JICA) was supported by a number of regional civil servants who presented a blueprint for the town.
It envisages the focus of developments on a number of densely populated hubs in the area, to be interconnected by an enhanced transport infrastructure. Whilst the interim administration has approved the plans and is already putting parts of them into practice, this is the paralysed of the lame-ass regimes - a regimes that frankly acknowledges that it has no justification.
For a long time described as the place "where China encounters India", Myanmar is located between two very different patterns of metropolitanization. There is the example of democracy in India in the western world, where NGOs have a say in the plans, but occupants stop infrastructural works and rental controls make the restoration of historical districts almost completely infeasible.
When Myanmar was the dark gap in the centre of Asia for centuries - a freezing country in the midst of the most vibrant part of the world - the secretariat building is the dark gap in the centre of Yangon. This is a New World-style lattice built by Britain's colonists to enforce the West through a Maniac part of the city.
This part of the town has practically all the showcases, many with shining new facilities such as Tokyo Donut, a small shop that deals in Dunkin's graphics and Tokyo's cityscape. During the heyday of the junta's rule, the minister's office was so tightly watched that it scared everyone to go down the alley.
"And then one of these days, it was empty," recalls François Tainturier, a famous francophone architectureian who has been living in Yangon for over a decad. In New Year's Eve 2006, the military regime reported that it had relocated the nation's capitol to the new town of Naypyitaw in the northwest. Not even the officials working in Yangon knew that a new capitol was under building; they were just asked to move back up to the northern part of the state.
Now the Secretariat is prepared for a new lease of humanity, but as with so many other Yangon institutes, its reincarnation is controversial. It was privatised in 2011, but the bidding was open only to tenderers with governmental relations. It was a plan by overseas investment to turn the property into a property so indignant that the authorities intervened to stop it.
Recent blueprints include a culture centre or rather a small local paramilitary murdered Aung San, head of the independent movement, and six Kabinettsminister (cabinet ministers) in 1947, but many are sceptical. "Perhaps a section will be a culture centre or an entry museum," prophesied Tainturians, but "they will rent out the remainder and earn it.
" Speaking in the foyer of an upper class lodge, which, like almost everything else in Yangon, was renovated. Nobody knows exactly what the Secretariat and other under-utilised historical administrative facilities will see in the near future, but it is an eye-opening signal that even properly used municipal facilities will be privatised.
It was wasted on doubtful conceit ventures such as the new capitol, which has a 20-lane street (allegedly the broadest in the world) that leads to a water castle with 31 buildings - a fully developed, state-of-the-art prohibited city. The retiring leaders are hoping to maintain their oversized roles in Burma's economic system even after the country's move to civil power.
And, with the privatisation of publicly owned properties, civil servants and their pals maintain individual controls over valuable plots that would otherwise have been given to democracy. In first place is the state' s elitist intellect. Throughout the most oppressive decade, Myanmar intelligentsia, many of whom had been imprisoned in Insein prison in Yangon, pursued the possibility of studying and working abroad in places such as Singapore, Thailand, Europe and North America.
They are now returning to Yangon with their kids and hope to be able to use the knowledge and experiences they have acquired abroad. Thant Myint-U, the founding member of the Yangon Heritage Trust, is best known. As the grandchild of a former UN Secretary-General, he was raised in New York City and Washington D.C. before he studied at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Cambridge.
Thant Myint-U has persuaded locals to introduce a limitation on the level of buildings in the historical centre of Yangon and to maintain the great structure of the city's former settlement. It has also greeted the presence of a number of transnational advisors.
The JICA has developed its blueprint for the expanding town and UN-Habitat has opened an agency in Yangon to educate Myanmar's planning community and improve the country's construction regulations. Although these consultancies are manned by serious global experts in the field of global governance (many of whom are Aung San Suu Kyi inspired), they are serving to the delight of the present administration, so that there are limitations to what they can suggest.
Because Myanmar has been a cohesive community for so long, most global professionals by nature have little first-hand information about the state. When I visited, the head of the UN Habitat Bureau was an American who had just moved from Germany and was spending even less in Myanmar than I did.
Great blueprints for Yangon are drawn up in an town hall development bureau - a building that represents the town' s cosmopolitan tradition and the hope of reconnecting with it today. Located opposite a remarkable Buddha school, the gleaming gold Sule Pagoda, the plain four-storey quadratic court building of the town hall, is decorated with features that give it the splendour of a mansion.
Inside there are more naga, these casted in brass, the lamps in the main staircases, which in turn are accentuated with teak and polish marmor. The lift coves are even adorned with deep engraved stones as if they were the entrances to Burma's temple. Originally suggested by UK designers, a West German architectural design, the house was adorned with local detail at the urging of Burma political figure U Ba Pe and Burma architectural firm Sithu U Tin, who had been educated in Bombay.
It was built by an experienced builder who was neither English nor Myanmar, but Persian. For half a century- Burma gained wobbly autonomy in 1948, but became a one-party state following the 1962 putsch e-the town hall collapsed. However, in mid-2011, when the time of the reforms began, the house was painted with purple highlights to accentuate the ornaments, and the interior was carefully renovated, all the way to the wood engraved signs that still bear the name of the Corporation of Rangoon city.
At the top level, in a large, scantily equipped studio, I ran into Suzuki Masahiko, the most important international consultant, who is making blueprints for Yangon's growth. Maasahiko said he first came to Myanmar in 2005, but he had worked in the town and even kept a skeletal garrison in the land for decade-long periods, during the era of segregation after the suppression of the Aung San Suu Kyi democratic movements in 1988.
Over the last few years, when Myanmar rejoins the world, the Japanese authorities have extended their technological support to citysetting. As a result, the resulting Yangon 2040: The Peaceful and Beloved Yangon - A City of Green and Gold blueprint is expected to more than doubling the city's total by this landmark year.
At the same time, the aim of the project is to protect the parks and preserve the historical centre's historical monuments and symbols. Today, Old Yangon, which covers only 2 per cent of the area of the region, makes up 10 per cent of the local people and about half of the business enterprises.
In order to ease the burden on the inner town, the main concept provides for severe altitude restrictions in the old town and directs it outwards. In order to urbanise the environment without urbanisation, the project provides for a system of "sub-centres" (dense hubs of development) and "green islands" (blocks of conserved areas of greenery).
Its most important sub-centre, a second key commercial quarter named Mindama, is to be developed 10 leagues upstate of the historical centre near the fast-growing Yangon lnt. a... Undoubtedly an appealing place for the multinational corporations that have raised the rent of offices in the city centre so much and whose managers now have to put up with a long, overloaded journey to the Aiport.
However, as an administrative quarter, the site has a decisive disadvantage: only 12 to 15 storeys can be raised without disturbing the air routes. In November 2013, a JV between large Japan-based companies, such as Mitsubishi, and Burma's multinational companies, such as the country's armed forces holdings Thilawa Special Economic Zone, laid the foundation stone.
As part of a "kitchen sink" concept, the main roadmap provides for significant improvement in both local and regional transport. It is also useful to improve the Circle Line, a railway ribbon constructed in the UK that passes through Yangon city centre and connects the centre with the suburbs. Most of the drivers leave it, it makes up only 3 per cent of city tours, while the overloaded coach system with its fleets of used imported buses makes up 80 per cent.
The Burmese are driving on the right and the Japs on the right, so the cars are equipped with a back doors for the drivers. His moaning was audible as he droped the cargo into the middle of the wagon with one blow. During a recent voyage to Tokyo, Myanmar Railway officers drove on the city's circular line, the Yamanote, which was constructed off Yangon but has been rigorously modernized and now runs at 55 mph.
It foresees an improvement in connections to new tram and railway lines at transport junctions and an increase in rail's contribution to city traffic to 30 per cent by 2040. Burned into the Yangon blueprint with profitable possibilities for Japan's industries, there are some grumbles about whose interests it really does serve.
It indicated that part of the impulse behind JICA's engagement is directed against China. China Myanmar has already improved its own railway network, in particular a railway line in the northern part of the island that provides Burma with Burma's own fossilefuel. Last months Myanmar authorities rejected China's more aggressive plans to construct a high-speed railway line through Myanmar and other South East Asia to connect China and Singapore.
Nevertheless, there is no question that the bypass planned in the main planning will be full of more and more Japanese passenger vehicles and lorries. Old Yangon's main railway terminus is lacking on the Old Yangon heritage register, a belated colorful symbol such as the town hall, which houses a contemporary building in typical Myanmar style.
This may have something to do with the plans to redouble the speed along the Yangon-Naypyitaw-Mandalay rail line, which currently lasts 15 hrs to drive 400 mile, with a Japanese aid grant. The question also arises as to how far the implementation of the roadmap will go. Consider, for example, the chance that Thilawa SEZ will be successful, providing job opportunities in production and in the harbour a decade away from the centre of the town, but the improvement of transport infrastructures is failing.
Probably the greatest issue is who will implement the post-election regime blueprint. Maasahiko went down the hallway with me to see the man for whose amusement he is serving, the senior city planner of the Yangon City Development Committee, Toe Aung, a laconical, stony man who was wearing a navy suit with a boob full of ribbon over his front pockets.
An underestimated aspect of government is that soldiers end up in a position where their armed formation is not relevant. Toe-Aung has been coached to oppress Yangon, not to make it. We have only been in business for two years. "Only two years ago, our town planners' bureau was born.
" Until then, every design had been decided by the Naypyitaw authorities. From first place, he said, the Bureau was working on the regulatory frameworks for the Yangon re-zoning. From now on, we cannot convert farmland into living space," he said, "a big obstacle to the urbanisation of the new "sub-centres" envisaged by the JICA scheme.
While Yangon is growing outwards on the green meadows surrounding the town, the peasants who are currently working the country are organising themselves. Historically, the militia has extended the boundaries of the cities through empowerment, no negotiation is necessary, but today the peasants are calling for just remuneration in return for aid and active lawyers have gathered to uphold them.
Wondering if an military official could make the switch to becoming a dynamic municipalist. I was interviewed by Dr. Than Than Thwe, Yangon's Assistant Manager for Municipal and Rural Development in the Yangon Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development, and she put me in her teak-clad, air-conditioned studio.
Your superior, deputy chief architect heing Maw Oo, who was very kind when I saw her at an academical talk in Yangon, ignored my frequent efforts to arrange an appointment for an Naypyitaw based on my visit. Masahiko said to me that he had tried to persuade Toe Aung and other civil servants "that without societal consideration there is a universal view that nothing can be done.
In the end, what will be the norm in Myanmar is a key issue hovering over the state. When I left Toe Aung's offices, I was walking through the huge, decorated room where an electoral councilman will be meeting one time. The best set masters' maps on the roads of the booming Yangon seemed to be very far away from the living experiences.
A temporary sheet iron perimeter wall just a block from the Town Hall encircled an undeveloped property at the Traders Hotel. The first time I got to Yangon, I thought it was just another demolished outfit. Later I learnt that for years it was a pubic area in the centre of the town; then it was transferred to the Traders Hotel, part of the Shangri-la range in Hong Kong.
Now that I was gazing at the property from a footbridge over a wide alley (here the right of way is a picturesque external concept), I had to wonder about the policy mechanism for the implementation of the JICA-Masterplan. The best masters' maps on the roads of the booming Yangon seemed very out-of-the-way. Myanmar passed a new bill in 2012 allegedly to prevent peasants from having their lands taken for aid, increasing the prison sentence for crime from 3 month to 7 years.
In the end, even bana wide limitations imposed in accordance with the Blueprint can be lifted by those who are financially involved in unimpeded developments. Speaking to Than Oo, CEO of the Mundine Realty Company, in his crowded city centre offices, he said he could agree to the preservation of certain historical structures, but the altitude constraints and "government rules around the historical structures that don't "distract" you - that's garbage.
" I was told that the trading group, of which he is vice-chairman, the Myanmar Real Estate Services Association, has already "addressed our case to the Myanmar authorities to amend this policy", and that it is hoping to vote in the first free vote for nominees who will raise the bar.
"There' s so much programming for the centre of Yangon, but it all comes down to the results of the 2015 elections," Oo said to me in a nutshell. In order to assess Yangon's outlook for the years ahead, I embarked on the latest and most luxury development: the Pun Huing Golf Estate, a closed residential complex opposite the centre of the town.
As a foreign national who entered a municipality whose inhabitants came from 27 different lands, I had little difficulty in passing by the sentries of the shelter. The toilet of the air-conditioned shop saw the windows of a hedgerow. Part of the property has been populated with modernistic owner-occupied apartments, a favorite type of high-end apartment in Yangon, since Burma's legislation allows foreign nationals to own freehold apartments, but not single-family houses.
Although the mansions are the property of affluent people from Burma, they are usually leased to foreign business people and their family for about $6,000 per months. At the commune's club house, which had one of the only Christmas tree in Myanmar, the place served a very unburmese poultry with bay gravy for the very unburmese $15.
Yangon International School's warehouse is just outside the school. Rickard insisted that Yangon would evolve wiser than other towns in the area. This is also the standard of his company's fame: "We constructed the country's first closed residential complex," he called. Yangon, in his shift from authoritarian to democratic, can get the most out of both of them.
Whilst there is nothing uncommon about an un-elected administration that speculates in high-end property developments - the practices are common in China as well as in local copycats like Vietnam - the particularities of the democratisation processes in Myanmar make the administration even bolder, to be ironic. There where the goverment liberates farmers from their lands for high-quality town planning, it is undoubtedly authors.
However, by freely granting Burma's authorities on their own conditions and timetable, they no longer claim legitimate, so they do not even have to claim to be serving their population. While Yangon may be developing even wiser than its regional peers, this transitional phase will almost certainly end as an age of missed out.
Burma, like India, is equipped with a tenancy controls bill adopted by UK colonizers in 1947 that makes it virtually impossibility to increase rental prices in historical properties to a level that allows them to be upheld. As a consequence, even if single historical structures are successfully conserved, the popular architectural style of historical districts will still be crumbling.
As Myanmar's democracy is likely to face India's plight, the non-presidential administration has shown no interest in taking charge of rents before it resigns. Even in places like Singapore and China, the number of new admissions is limited by authority in order to reduce roadges - a clever municipal politics that would be very difficult to implement in a town where the rulers are chosen at will.
A consultant to the Myanmar authorities, a construction technician who has worked in Singapore for many years, he entrusted me, on the understanding that he would not be named "I talked to the decision-makers" about limiting the number of cars registered, but "they don't think about it[because] wealthy[Burmese] people who are closely related to the policy maker would be complaining.
Moe Moe Lwin explored a land full of towns that made a good deal to get wealth by becoming clogged, dirty and architectonically replaceable, and asked himself if Yangon could evolve differently and be "the model". Are we able to draw lessons from our own failures and design a democratic and sensible urban environment? Yangon has been a pitying and gawking at the Yangon Empire for centuries as a forgotten visions of the past - a town without cash dispensers or mobile telephones that have been shattered by a violent remnant from the twentieth-fascist era.
Today we must look to Yangon with commitment and urgent action.