Yangon is a modern city of glass and steel. Unlike in other Asian cities, there are no motorbikes here because the government banned them within the city limits! Therefore, there are only cars and buses. When you go into the alleyways and passed the main avenues, you see the poor areas and find the people who are struggling to make ends meet, living in very poor conditions. Many people cannot afford to live in the city and commute to the city for work by bus or ferry to villages.
We visited a short time after Hillary Clinton's visit. It was difficult to get a visa and their economy is cash only- no credit cards. Even in our 5 star hotel which was lovely and had businessmen galore from other countries (everyone wants in on the action as things open up in Myanmar), you had to have "pretty money." That is, they only wanted new, clean bills that were not too wrinkled or faded!! Out of about $300, the money changer only took $165 so we were on a strict budget since we had no idea of the restrictions. We later found other changers who gave us a lower rate for our money. Later our guide told us that things will be changing and they will be taking credit cards in the future as tourism grows which they really want to happen.
More about Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) in my next post...