Monday, 10 December 2012

Blog Post 1: Mind the Gap! A guide to pavements in Yangon

Do you fall through a pavement? Or down a pavement? Whichever the correct term is, after I arrived in Yangon it took me a long time to actually complete the action. Five weeks to be exact. Luckily, in my opinion, the incident happened at around 8:30pm, a time when the streets of downtown are starting to become deserted, so the only person to witness me disappearing through the ground was a lone taxi driver. Although I could barely walk after I’d hauled myself back to street level, I still didn’t get in his taxi. If my flip-flop had remained in the sewer, I might have been forced to reconsider.

So now the bruises have healed, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the huge variety of pavements (or lack of) here in The Goon. Some are good, some are bad, but all have a story to tell….. 

First, and most common, is the Regular Pavement. These usually consist of big concrete slabs placed over a trench. Some are secure, some are not. Some have no gaps, most have many (the ones with many could be referred to as Half n Half Pavements). These are the pavements you’re most likely to fall through/ down. What lies beneath varies in depth and content. You have been warned!

The Regular Pavement: Which one is loose today?

The Half n Half Pavement: What could go wrong?

Next is the Boring but Safe Pavement. In an attempt at modernisation, these are usually fairly clean, solid concrete affairs. As the name suggests, it’s unlikely you will fall through/ down one but they are not very exciting to look at. 

The Boring but Safe Pavement: Dull but no holes!

The same cannot be said of the Trendy Pavement. These are usually found around popular tourist sites, such as Kandawgyi  Lake and the roads that lead to Shwedagon Pagoda. As the name implies, they are bursting with character, style and most importantly colour, which allows the betel spit to blend in nicely.  Some of the patterns are quite extraordinary and one stretch of pavement often contains an array of different designs, helping to make your sweaty walk more fascinating.  As with the Boring but Safe variety, it’s unlikely you will injure yourself on these modern colourful types.  

Trendy Number 1Wow!!!

Trendy Number 2: Nice bird.

Next is the Posh Pavement. These are generally only found outside expensive hotels and shopping centres. Although an accident is unlikely, these are in fact the best pavements to fall throughdown as your chances of winning a compensation law suit are fairly high. Well, maybe in ten years time!

Posh number 1: Swanky!

Posh Number 2: Pebbledash!

Possibly the most interesting of all is the No Pavement. These are the ones that are under construction and are generally just sand with a few loose stones dotted about, and perhaps the odd big hole where you can see in to the earth’s core. Local residents wait excitedly to see which type of pavement will eventually emerge. Warning: These varieties are extremely hazardous at night.

No Pavement Number 1: "How long will this take?"

No Pavement Number 2: Looks pretty safe actually.

Similar in appearance to the No Pavement is the Scruffy Pavement. Whilst they often appear almost identical, it should be noted that the scruffy pavement will not be upgraded anytime soon. It’s been scruffy since it was laid and will continue to be so for many years to come. 

Scruffy Pavement. What a mess!!

My favourite of all is the Colonial Pavement. Laid by the British (citation needed), they are fairly solid and safe, very old and have a certain charm. But.... how long will they survive?

The Colonial Pavement. Solid and tough. Just like that dog

As we draw to a close, we mustn’t overlook the What the F*** Pavement. As the name suggests, this variety is something of a shocker. You only have to look at it to see why. Imagine falling through/ down that at dead of night.

What the F***? Is there anybody down there?

And so, last but not least, we have the Pigeon Pavement. These have quite a bad smell and are always full of, well, pigeons. There’s usually one in every neighbourhood and it’s even possible to buy dried corn and nuts to feed the flock.  Although the chances of you falling throughdown this pavement are fairly slim, you are quite likely to get pecked at and shat on. Lucky you!

Pigeon Pavement: Filthy.

Hopefully now, you have a basic knowledge of Yangon’s incredible variety of pavements. I acknowledge that there are dozens of other sidewalk varieties in this golden city (Bed Pavement, Train Track Pavement, Love Pavement and Palm Reading Pavement to name but a few), but I simply didn’t have time to do the leg work.


Enjoy the walk and don’t forget to carry a  flashlight after dark!!!


  1. You might want to add the bloody pavement.

  2. Great post! I look forward to reading more of them. So true re: the pavements. They're crazy here + sometimes super dangerous. Especially during monsoons + all the flooding. You can really get very hurt. Even in broad daylight.

    I've always had a phobia of even walking over man holes, so imagine my trepidation over many of the sidewalks around here. I often walk in the road instead. lol

    Great post!

  3. I love this! There is so much in the "everyday" in Yangon and I love the way you approach this.

    I am really looking forward to reading your next posts :)
    Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback! Next one is on its way!

  4. This entry is hilarious. I totes recognize the half n' half pavement. It's near Sayar San Rd!

    1. Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Hi Laura

    Nice work. So what happened to you was a bit like this:


  6. I'm looking forward to your next post.

    Maybe something about lampposts?

    Or gutters?


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