- Posted June 2, 2012 by
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
What is actually in store for Myanmar?
Power is scarce and the whirr of generators located on sidewalks is common place. Any appliance of value is plugged into a voltage regulator. pic 2 and 3.
There are remnants of infrastructure, but open plumbing, and sewage is either exposed or just under a concrete block on one of the many streets in Yangon. pic 4. Yangon is full of buildings that have been neglected. pic 5. With a little work, Yangon can take on a new face. Currently many public restrooms are being constructed to handle the influx of tourism, however hotels are capitalizing on the demand for rooms by raising rates beyond comparable accommodations offered in the region.
Unlike neighboring Thailand or developing Cambodia, where a telephone sim card can be had for two dollars, sim cards in Yangon were offered at 50,000 Kyat (approximately 62 dollars). Many vendors could not keep up with demand and other vendors took advantage selling cards for up to 300 dollars. The Yellow pages for Yangon is quite thick, but residents are subject to public phone stations. pic 6. Internet and wifi can be sketchy.
Police seem to have a role when there is a power outage and they are called to direct traffic. pic 7 When other services are required, the locals reported that that usually would involve a fee.
There is still a military presence in various areas of Yangon. The soldiers appear well funded with smart uniforms, and equipped with more expensive M-16 rifles. It will take time to see if the military regime is really ready to relinquish power. pic 8
Transportation can be improved, although the people are able to get around. Aging buses, many from Japan operate through out the country. Many retrofitted to handled operating on the right side of the road. The road system appears to be in good shape, and the aging taxis, also designed for left hand drive, are able to operate with out too much problems due to the lopsided ratio of vehicles to people. Once vehicle vendors import more vehicles, road safety will become an issue for the wrong hand drive vehicles. pic 9 Domestic Airlines with in the country appear to run efficiently.
Aung San Suu Kyi on her first trip out of the country made it clear that jobs and the Myanmar people need to be the benefactors of Myanmar's new found status. There is a big divide among the rich and poor, and the poor and less fortunate need to reap the rewards.
There are plenty of beggars through out Yangon with little or no alternatives. pic 10. A recent garment factory strike reported in the local papers expressed how workers were penalized excessively, depriving them of bonuses and overtime compensation that would bring their wage up to a livable level.
One can only hope that corporations and foreign governments can direct their investment in Myanmar in an honorable way that can both be profitable while improving the standard of living for the Burmese people. Yangon, appears to once have been a dynamic city, and the people are optimistic about the changes taking place. Embracing this optimism, can turn Myanmar around in a fraction of the time it has spent being neglected.