Posted by: yannaungoak | September 5, 2009

19th Street et alia

I have to totally write a post about the situation with the bank notes here. It’s ridiculous. I just have to tell the story with photos for it to really make sense though. And uploading photos is something that I’ll probably only get around to doing only when I get back to Singapore, which is on the 8th (Tuesday).

Anyways, onto the meat and potatoes section of today’s post…

Yesterday I went to see Nyantha at 19th Street in Chinatown!!! Okay, if you don’t know the back-story about our group of friends and the long running association with the excellent hang out place known as 19th Street, this will probably not make sense to you. I’ll try my best to explain. Here’s a picture of the place I stole from the internet:


Yangon has an old historic colonial style city center, filled with two hundred year old buildings lining the narrow streets. The architectural styles show a city that has evolved over the past two hundred years. It’s a very basic portrayal of whatever the local residents thought was “in” at various times in history. No pretensions of grandeur, no attempts at high art, no commissioned works by architects, its just the everyday reality expressed in the stark designs of the tightly packed four to six storey apartments that fill up the city blocks. In every street in the city center, there’s telephone and electric cables straddling the streets from building to building, the sounds of packed buses and trishaws passing by, in some places the recently paved roads have big holes in them, and you can see traces of the century old brick roads below the modern version, reminding you of the times when horse carriages were the preferred mode of transport.

19th Street, however, has all of the above, and more. It’s located in Yangon’s Chinatown, and as always, where there’s a Chinese immigrant community, there’s food! As you can see from the photo, there are billboards everywhere advertising Myanmar Beer, the favorite local brew. The street is lined with pubs/grills which serve all kinds of grilled delicacies and any kind of Sino-Burman cuisine that goes well with alcohol. The street is basically blocked off to vehicles at night and is filled with open air seating and grill stands. The monsoon brings a mix of puddles below on the street and seating covered with makeshift plastic sheets above, with the vibe unfazed by the constant rains.

Our group of old friends has been going there to hang out and spend the nights celebrating with food and beer since about 2003. Every time we get to meet again in Yangon, whether for the summer or for short visits here and there, we’d try to spend at least one night in 19th street. I’ve known and loved this place for longer than I’ve known half of my friends.

And yesterday was the first time I’ve hung out with white people since I’ve left the US. Yesterday’s crowd was a mix of American and British expats who are working for NGOs and schools in Myanmar, and I met a few interesting folks. Definitely could use more company when I come back again to Myanmar, since all my Burmese friends are abroad, I guess these days I’ll be going back to my home country to hang out with my American friends. Hmm… remember what I said about being confused about home in a previous post? Just keeps getting better…

Well, I guess I’m enjoying all of it now, and I’ll get more time to reminisce with my old friends tonight. It’s funny, quite a few of them are getting on with their lives, getting married, settling in with stable relationships, planning out their careers. I guess I’m getting more in tune with the post-college vibe now. I’ve been briefed by bosscousin about what I’m going to do in Singapore and been given a few responsibilities. It feels good that I’m actually supposed to be doing real work now, contributing to something. I’ll have to do another post about work/life issues, that’s quite a long story in itself.



  1. Yan Naung… when you comin’ “home” ? I miss our rolling convos…

    I hope the natives are treating you well 😉

    Say hi to booboo for me if you’re still there 🙂

  2. Woah, your blog is active.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: