Asia Frontier Capital Myanmar Travel Report

Scott Osheroff, Regional Research Analyst at Asia Frontier Capital, who currently resides in Myanmar, recounts one of his recent trips in the frontier country. The photos in this article are all by AFC.

On a blisteringly hot April afternoon I left my apartment in search of lunch. Eerily quiet as I walked down the road, with not a car in sight, I was suddenly approached by a seemingly innocent girl, save for the fact that she was armed. Knowing what would ensue I became uneasy, not wanting any trouble of course. With phones and my wallet in tow, after a short while of gentle negotiation for her to save her ammo for another victim she unfortunately lifted her weapon and said a soft “sorry” as she pulled the trigger, pumping copious amounts of water onto me. Thoroughly drenched, she yelled “Happy Thingyan!” and with a big smile ran off to go reload for the next pedestrian or car with windows ajar to pass.

Thingyan is the Buddhist New Year which in Myanmar is synonymous with loud music and trucks packed with people focused on getting as hydrated as possible all amid borderline chaos. During this period, Myanmar turns into a nation-wide waterpark and Yangon in particular into a madhouse, the following photo of which puts this into perspective. It is great fun!


Platforms set-up throughout the city where cars drive up and get hosed with water.

Early in the morning on the fifth day of Thingyan I had plans to depart Yangon for Shan State. Leaving early in the morning, I had a 9-hour drive ahead. The first leg of this journey was the drive to the edge of Yangon where we reached the Yangon-Mandalay toll road. Infrastructure lagging vehicle growth, this ~8-kilometer drive should have taken 20 minutes, but instead took an hour.

On the entrance to the highway we approached the first toll gate where we had to pay for the stretch Yangon-Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital. This section is 360 kilometres yet costs a mere 5,000 Kyat (USD $3.66). How the highway is so well…

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