Love Exploring had this to say about the most dangerous city in the world for tourists.
The capital of Myanmar reached crisis point in February 2021, when a coup took place, and the Myanmar military declared a state of emergency and assumed control. It’s not surprising then that this year, the city is ranked as the world’s most dangerous, scoring just 39.5 out of a possible 100 points. Prevalence of violent crime is to blame, with clashes expected to continue as protests and demonstrations against military rule occur. The US Department of State and UK Foreign Office have advised against all travel to the city after UK and US citizens were ordered to leave earlier in 2021.
Before the civil unrest, Myanmar had started to make huge improvements to its political situation after new government reforms marked an end to 60 years of authoritarian rule. After 2010, Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, became an emerging international city and commercial hub. Travelers were drawn to the city to see the Buddhist sculptures and temples, including the golden Shwedagon Pagoda (pictured), plus the high concentration of Victorian and Edwardian buildings constructed after the British colonized the region.
So, Mr. Mike and I were in Myanmar (Burma is the colonial name) in October, 2015. We visited Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Mandalay, and Inle Lake.
We debated for several years prior to actually visiting. Various travel websites, and friends told us the political situation was not conducive to tourism. And that most of the money we spent would never benefit the people working in jobs there. As the political landscape changed, and Aung San became the de facto President, we figured it was time to go.
But as you might expect, the military dictatorship took control, arrested her in 2021, and charged and convicted her of various crimes. At this point, I am sorry that we went, spent money there, which ultimately helped the military dictatorship. All this for the lady who won the Nobel peace Prize in 1991.
The things we did see, and experience were both interesting, and unique. We saw a part of Asian that is relatively undeveloped. And we saw a country of people hungry to rise above the depths of an oppressive dictatorship. We saw local people out enjoying themselves, drinking beer (like I was doing above), and gathering with friends and family, like most everywhere else in SE Asia. We met people who seemed to have hope for their future. We saw previously banned books for sale on the street, from authors like Orwell, Sinclair, Salinger, and Thoreau. We thought we saw a rising middle class, spending money on food and entertainment.
Maybe it was all a mirage or window dressing, to get us to visit and spend $$!!!
But never did we feel in danger. Never did I feel as threatened as when I crossed Checkpoint Charlie in 1971 to enter East Berlin. And certainly, I saw the military, but at a distance. We were never questioned at any point on the trip.
Our guide was a young lady from an ethnic group in the north (pictured with Mike). She and her husband were saving to build a guest house, and become independent.
But as we proceeded to the countryside, we could see that Myanmar was still a third world country. Our guide an Inle Lake was a nice local woman, who took us wherever we wanted to go. We visited the traveling day market, a cigar factory, a school, and several artisan villages. But something happened that opened our eyes.
Poor Mike stepped into an open sewage line in his old Nike Tennies. He took them off for the remainder of the day. But when we parted, and paid our guide, she asked for Mike’s stinky, soiled shoes before he threw them in the trash! So, naturally, I offered my shoes as well. It was a sobering experience!