Streets of Yangon

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Photos by Kaung Myat Oo.

“Behind every door and inside every shop is a person whose story is a joy to listen to,” wrote Bob Percival, former editor of this magazine. The late Australian author described Yangon’s hidden treasures and street life in his 2015 guide Walking the Streets of Yangon, which has been reprinted twice. “It is a city of street vendors,” he wrote. “Of fortune-tellers, teashops, colonial buildings, bookstalls, mosques, temples, modern shops, street
markets, endless teashops, beer stations and a thousand eating-places.” To celebrate his passion and curiosity for the city, we have invited young Myanmar photographers to showcase their work on their favorite streets. This month, 21-year-old Kaung Myat Oo shares his photographs and writings about the lane he grew up on.

Migathi 22 in South Okkalapa township, 12th ward, is down a small lane on Migathi Street. It was first created around 1958 when the township was being developed as part of a citywide plan.

We don’t know exactly how it got its name, but ‘migathi’ is a Pali word. My grandmother moved in 1969-1970 from Mawlamyine to Yangon, where she lived on the corner of Migathi Street and Migathi 22. To this day, our family still lives there.

When I was younger, there were no paved roads here, and all of the homes were single-storey with tin roofs. Before that, I have been told, the area was mainly trees and surrounded by woods.

Now the roads are paved, and some wooden houses have become apartment blocks and high-rise condominiums. New neighbors have replaced old neighbors, and there is much more traffic congestion. Because it is where I grew up though, I still like Migathi 22 better than other streets.

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