Rudyard Kipling was right, "it is unlike any place you know about..." but as I sat there watching the fireworks near Kandawagyi Lake in Rangoon, I couldn't help but think that this country on the verge of democracy was truly unlike any place I had known about. The fireworks were tremendous as I watched from across the lake that night, January 1, 2012 after having spent the past 20 days in Burma.
Kipling surely didn't get to experience the splendor and beauty of fireworks over the shiny Schewedagon Pagoda off in the distance. I felt lucky to be there during this transitional period, when a country that had been under a brutal military junta began to embrace change.
A great place to stay is at the Kandawagyi Palace Hotel, a grand teak hotel with beautiful grounds on the edge of Kandawagyi Lake. The hotel gardens come complete with their own Tyrannosaurus Rex, a full sized dinosaur in the garden. No, I am not kidding....
Get a room at the hotel or book one of their small cottages that sit right on the edge of the lake. The Golden Pagoda is a 20 minute walk from the hotel and if you are lucky enough to be there on New Years Eve, don't miss the fireworks from this vantage point.
I think even Rudyard Kipling would agree, Rangoon at New Years is unlike any you have ever experienced. Tip: Remember to learn the word, "Minga-laba" a common greeting that loosely translates as "it is an honor." You will get lots of smiles and have fun doing it.