|A stall selling Aung San Suu Kyi t-shirts at Bogyoke market|
© Andy Brown/Burma 2012
Although it’s less than 600km from Bangkok, Rangoon could be a different world, or at least a different time. Most people – both men and women – still wear the traditional longhi, a sarong-like wrap-around skirt made from a tube of fabric that you step into. Women and children also covered their cheeks, nose and forehead in coloured chalk. Initially I assumed this had cultural or religious significance, but I was wrong. “It’s actually cosmetic,” my colleague Ye Lwin explained.
The only vehicles on the roads of Rangoon were cars, most of them ageing and some literally falling apart, giving the streets a very different feel to other South East Asian capitals where the motorbike is king. They were banned here a few years back, allegedly after one crashed into a politician’s car. Rangoon was also very green with plentiful parks and gardens, a pleasant change to the concrete overload of Bangkok.