Myanmar – A country at a crossroad

I consider myself very fortunate in my lifetime so far, as I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of countries around the world and experience cultures, history and ways of life much different than those of my home country. Although I had recently visited other Asian countries, nothing could have prepared me for the last 10 days I spent in Myanmar (Burma).

Myanmar – a country of 60 million people – is in the midst of a remarkable transformation. Since 2010 it has started loosening its protectionist measures, moving from a command to a market driven economy and commencing the long journey from a military dictatorship to a democracy. Its people for the first time can look forward to a better quality of life, filled with the simple things that we in developed countries take for granted.

From a timing perspective, my visit could not have been planned any better, as I got to witness a country at a crossroad – slowly taking baby steps to opening up, while foreign mega-giant companies are waiting impatiently to jump in and enjoy the spoils. I am certain that in the next 5 years, this country will undergo a radical transformation of the magnitude witnessed by China and India in the past few decades.

I was fortunate to join a team of consultants to travel to Myanmar to assist a company in better preparing itself to face the challenges of what is about to come. During the weekend, our client arranged a tour of Yangon as well as the outskirts of the city. I can say without a doubt, that this was the first time I ever had the chance to take a genuine behind-the-scenes look of  a country’s culture and way of life. Needless to say that my camera got more use in the last two weeks than it did in the last year! Everywhere I looked, there was a picture ready to be taken. Some of these pictures I want to share through this blog, so there will definitely be a couple more postings to come!

This first picture was taken on the Yangon Circular Railway, which as the name implies, loops around the city and its suburbs. We got the chance to ride the train for a whole hour on our way from the city center to the statue of the Reclining Buddha. The ride itself was an experience, with people carrying eveything with them on board – from sacks of food to even their own mattress!

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 IS lens at F5.6, 1/400 sec at ISO 400.

Train ride - fixed2 - 1920c