In the morning I walked east from my hotel, in the direction of the Sule Paya located in the center of downtown Yangon. Like the Shwedagon Paya, the Sule Paya has also been an important focal point of pro-democracy protests of recent years, notably the Saffron Revolution of 2007.
East of the Sule Paya are the old colonial buildings of Yangon. Many of these buildings of course housed the offices of the British Raj government. I suspect there are no longer any major national government offices located in Yangon since the government moved the country’s capital to the newly built city of Naypyidaw in 2006.
On the way to the pagoda I stopped in at the Kheng Hock Keong Buddhist temple, and later I took a few moments to see the outside of the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue, which serves the tiny Yangon Jewish community. I decided not to enter the Sule pagoda but I circumnavigated it in order to take several photos from different angles.
I also took note of some of the modern buildings in downtown Yangon and took some photos of them to contrast the old and the new architecture.
I was sure that very few people in Yangon (or all of Burma for that matter) could afford to live in the downtown area, and I knew that other than the Sule Paya, these buildings did not represent the lives of ordinary citizens. My guidebook recommended taking the local train that circles Yangon, as it would be a good way to see how the average person lives.
Since the main train station was a short walk from downtown, I ambled over and bought a ticket for the 2:25 p.m. departure. The three-hour ride gave me a glimpse of people going about their daily routines and activities.