• Wed. Dec 8th, 2021

A new guide to downtown Yangon

ByKeith M. Jones

Oct 1, 2019

Each street has its own characteristics, history, architecture, shops and restaurants. Despite the easy to navigate streetscape, it is not always easy to find what you are looking for. Not everything has been mapped out for the digital age, as many businesses and stores are not that easy to find on Google Maps.

This is where the new Yangon street map comes in handy. Whether you are a resident or a traveler, this is the place to find out what is happening on the streets. It’s a great way to find something useful or just plan an afternoon adventure around the grid.

It’s a colorful and beautifully illustrated guide, available in print and online.

The book was created by over 29 volunteers from 16 countries, and it took two months to complete. Each volunteer diligently walked around, asking questions, and documenting the cultural history and attractions of every street in town.

The volunteers were supported by 14 Yangonites who helped with translation and fact-checking, as well as the many residents interviewed during the process.

The project was led by the Yangon Newcomers Group (YNG), who wanted to experiment with first-hand observations to create their map.

Alexandra Wilson, the main collaborator and member of YNG, explains: “I wanted to start the project because I could never remember which street is the sewing machine street or the stationery street. So, I wanted to map the place. And I quickly realized that it would be impossible to do it alone.

Walking around the city center without any knowledge can be a problem, especially during the rainy season. Add to that the traffic jams on the main roads, and it is difficult to enjoy the journey. Yangon’s street map helps with all of this and includes a written description of each street – from the lower blocks to the upper blocks – as well as illustrations.

The guide also helps people find heritage buildings, such as the beautiful Peranakan buildings in Chinatown or the colonial buildings around Sule. It’s a resource for finding what you want when you need it, whether it’s places to shop or places to visit on the weekends.

“YNG is a group of recent arrivals to Yangon who like to share information. One of the subgroups is called ‘The Explorers’, which has 28 members all interested in carrying their clipboards to document the city, ”said Alexandra.

“It took about two months to cover the whole city. Once we got it all on paper, we then created an online version, which is free for everyone, ”she continued.

Given the success of the online version, YNG decided to create a print version – this includes not only details of street specialties, but also markets and heritage buildings. “In both versions, we highlighted the new lanes of Doh Eain and even the little things that caught our eye, such as banana shops, bookstores, and cafes.”

YNG members also have an eye for detail. Alexandra explained, “Supermarkets and big chains are all great, but the fun of downtown is finding the same or better choice of things while supporting small local businesses. However, navigating the city streets can be intimidating for newcomers, especially those who do not speak Burmese well.

The book is available from Hla Day for K20,000. Proceeds from the book sales will go to charities supported by the YNG.

The Yangon Street Map is the group’s first effort, and they plan to complete two more projects soon. One of them will be a map of Bogyoke Aung San market and the other a larger map of Yangon.

The card launch took place last week on Friday September 27 at Hla Day.

Yangon street map is available online at www.yangonmap.blog. The printed version is available from Hla Day, which is located at No. 81, 1st floor in the middle block of Pansodan Street.

San Lin Tun is a freelance writer of essays, poetry, short stories and novels in English and Myanmar.


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