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Having secured our coveted entry visas, we arrived safely in My*nm*r and gratefully received no hassle getting through customs or airport security even with all of our video gear. Next thing you know we were being whisked through town in taxis when I snapped this welcome sign shot.
Y*ngon also known as R*ngoon is the former capital of B~rma and is still the country's largest city and center of commerce. The population is about four million and the outlying suburbs are especially impoverished.
We wasted no time and two hours after arriving in town, we were downtown shooting video. Here we are shooting out the windows of Tr*der's Hotel just like CNN correspondents and famous photographs during the 2007 revolt. Not so long ago locals monks lead a pro-democracy movement against the military junta that has ruled despotically here since 1962.
Featured here in the center of this downtown shot is the Sulep*god*, an ancient Buddhist temple in the heart of the city that served as a rallying point in the recent revolutions.
Crowded streets find the B*m*r peoples busy about their business. Much of the city is without basic municipal services like uninterrupted access to electricity and regular rubbish removal. This doesn't keep the throngs of people from seeking to make a living.
Unlike other major Asian cities, Y*ngon does not have any skyscrapers for one simple reason: few can afford to build one. According to official regulations, buildings over eight-stories require elevators. Due to frequent power outages, local generators are required to ensure elevator function. Costs add up quickly! Most buildings are less than 20 years old but look much older because of shoddy construction and lack of proper maintenance from lack of funds.
In the local market you can find all kinds of goods and services, including this vendor eager to sell you some tasty bugs for snacks. Yum!
You can also get some great deals on postcards like this local tourist did. There are no ATM machines and few locals have a debit or credit cards. Consequently, friendly locals are always eager to trade your money for you and will gladly exchange your American dollars for the local currency. Tourism has declined since the devastating Cyclone N*rgis.
This young girl wants us to buy her birds for a small fee. For centuries, Buddhists in Asia have released their sorrows through this ritual. Buy the caged bird, bring it to your lips with a kiss and a prayer, and then release it for an instant Buddhist blessing. Unless, of course, it's infected with an Avian flu or you are convinced that it's really mumbo-jumbo.
This child is decorated with local make-up paint made from the t*n*k* tree. Not only is this considered a traditional way of beautification, but it also works as sunscreen. Looking into this child's eyes, it's hard to imagine the horrors this country has seen under the regime for over 50 years.
The sun sets over Y*ngon. No light = no video so we would soon rest from our labors. Next up is a tour into the Shwed*gon P*goda, Y*ngons most famous Buddhist temple and the center of local worship.