Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Colonial Yangon: A Tour to Yangon’s Historic Past (Yangon, ASEAN’s Jewel Series 3 )

Colonial Yangon  
A Tour to Yangon’s Historic Past
Yangon, ASEAN’s Jewel Series 3 

Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital and the country’s  biggest city,
 has the densest concentration beautiful of colonial- era buildings 
anywherein Asia. have barely been touched since the early 1900s. 


What used to be the cornerstone of the British Empire,
Yangon’s  imposing buildings is a testimony on how
stately and how progressive this bustling port city then.


Touring around the downtown area
beginning from the Sule Pagoda,

…would take the tourists to one of the most majestic
colonial structure in Yangon: the Yangon City Hall.


Pyatthat roofed Yangon City Hall building was built in 1926
is syncretic Burmese architecture, featuring designed by U Tin
a Burmese architect , who also designed Central Railway Station.
The building is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List.

Right beside it is the Ayeyarwade Bank
formerly Rowe and Co Department Store-
which apparently was once among the
most upscale department stores in Asia.

It was transformed to Ayeyarwady Bank headquarters
in 2012 and listed among Yangon’s heritage buildings.

Also nearby is the striking Yangon Regional Court
or the former High Court Building is an iconic colonial-
era structure noted for clock tower and its red- bricked
exterior typical. of British Queen Annestyle architecture.

It was designed by architect James Ransome and was built in 1905.
This beautiful building is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List.


Just in front is the Independence Monument
located at the verdant Maha Bandula Park.


The Myanma Economic Bank caught my attention.
It was not on the list of the heritage buildings, but
the beautiful classic church like structure blended
very well with the city’s historic heritage center.

The Heritage Hotel Kempinski Yangon right at
the corner of Strand Road, is the first Rosewood
luxury property in Myanmar  is set to open soon.


Located opposite the riverside cruise terminal
it was  the former Police Commissioner’s Office,
another historic colonial building built in 1927.


Right across is monolithic Yangon Stock Exchange.
It was a grandiose building with massive  heavy cut-
stone walls making the building appear impenetrable.

It was built as a building for the Reserve Bank of India
in 1935  as British India’s bank and became a dominion
of Great Britain when Burma separated from British India.


The red-brick 1912 Customs House, designed
by John Begg, one the Raj's principal architects, 


…is one of the few colonial buildings in Yangon still
fulfilling its original function nearly for a century.

The Yangon Divisional Court Building was constructed in 1900 under 
the aegis of the British colonial administration. This colonial-era building
originally functioned as the administration's currency department office.


Nearby is the Myanmar Port Authority building.
An imposing colonial structure dating back to 1928.
Rangoon had the busiest port in the world in the early
20th century and the building  restoration to its former
glory as a testimony to the Yangon’s great storied past.


The Strand Hotel, was built by the Sarkies Brothers,
Aviet and Tigran in 1901 named after its address, at
92 Strand Road facing the Hlaing or Yangon River.


This beautiful Victorian-style hotel is one of the most famous and
one of the most luxurious hotels in Yangon and Southeast Asia.


Yangon’s British Embassy is an eye turner because of its fine
lattice windows and an intricate entrance awning covering the
sidewalk.  It was built in 1900 originally as the headquarters of a
Glasgow-based  shipping and insurance company J. & F. Graham.


The British has made an excellent job of preserving
the building and has been kept in immaculate shape.

Nearby is Yangon’s red-brick Central Post Office Building.
Built in 1908 this lovely beaux-arts iron portico was originally
the office of Bulloch Brothers & Co, a Scottish shipping and
insurance agency which also on rice trading business in Burma.


The post office was relocated here
by the British government in 1936.

On our way out of the city center, I caught a glimpse
of The Envoy. A restaurant set amidst old impeccably
restored colonial building on Bo Aung Kyaw Street, 


I was impressed and I am glad how the city is preserving 
its colonial heritage- and I am glad how these awesome, 
historic, old buildings are being coaxed back to life.



I would love to return to Yangon in ten years to
witness the old colonial glory of British Rangoon,
slowly coming back to life this time with local touch.



I wish we have done the same thing in the Philippines.
Despite our country’s National Cultural Heritage Law
(Republic Act No. 10066) seeking to protect structures
over 50 years old heritage structures Filipinos seem to
have a penchant of  demolishing historic structures and
replacing then with modern, ugly monolithic structures.

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