Sunday, July 25, 2010

Smackdown: Yangon vs. Jakarta!

Out of all the sprawling Asian cities we visited on the tour, Yangon (Rangoon) reminded me the most of Jakarta. I think most of the resemblance was infrastructural, if I may coin a word: the crazy traffic, the smog, the poorly-maintained roads and the rather sad pedestrian overpasses all felt like my beloved Jakarta.

Beloved? Yes, I do love Jakarta, as much as it drives me crazy. There is a great city locked inside Jakarta's chaos, and it would only take some good management to bring it out. It pains me a little that my adopted city so resembles the abandoned capital of a long-abused nation like Myanmar. But so be it. Without further ado, I present Smackdown 2010: Jakarta-Yangon edition!

STREET LIFE: We didn't have enough time in Yangon to do a thorough survey of markets etc., but I'd have to give the edge to Jakarta. It's hard to match the buzz of the Jak when it comes to people hawking, hustling or just hanging out on the street.

TAXIS: Advantage Jakarta, again. Yangon's taxis lack shock absorbers, and for some reason most of them have lost the inner paneling on their doors, making them look sadder than even the shabbiest Kosti Jaya in Jakarta.

TRAFFIC: Both suffer from poor traffic control and an absence of mass transit, but Yangon is the winner, simply because it's smaller and fewer people can afford cars.

Yangon traffic: not yet Jakarta, but it's getting there

AIR QUALITY: Advantage Yangon (see Traffic).

ROADS: Jakarta by a nose. Lots of potholes in both cities.

MONUMENTS: Sorry, Jakarta, but any city would be hard pressed to top the magnificence of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda.

The final tally? A 3-3 tie! That's pretty much how the experts have called it as well; the two cities have vied neck and neck in the lower tier of contestants on the annual Expat Quality of Life report.


Ash said...

OK, Monas has nothing on that pagoda. Gorgeous photo! So sparkly!

But... you didn't compare the malls! Surely Jakarta would win on that front...

kopisusu2 said...

So true! I didn't see a single mall with a musical fountain and light show! or even a skating rink or an indoor roller coaster or an elevator shaped like a giant shoe. Those poor people in Yangon just don't know what they're missing.

Meliko said...

How about all the cheerful chirps and bells and whistles and dongs and bashes and tingtinks of the street vendors?

Great sky behind the Pagoda.

kopisusu2 said...

I've never been anywhere that competes with Jakarta in terms of glorious street-vendor cacophony. Long may it reign! BTW, have you chosen a sound for your kaki lima yet?