Life Along Myanmar’s Yangon River

Myanmar has taken steps to escape political and economic isolation, but life along the Yangon River remains unchanged.

The days here start early. At 4am, the docks of Lan Ma Daw jetty in Yangon are already bustling with people, from blurry-eyed students to laborers unloading basket-loads of food. It is a setting that has remained unchanged for decades, one that might shift with the recent turn of Myanmar’s political and economic isolation.

For now, the docks seem to paint a picture of Burma’s lower- to middle-class society. All walks of life converge here. One of the boatmen, a man named Khin Maung Than, describes his feelings about the community using a Burmese saying, which loosely translates to: “Die not different, live not separate.” He will continue to work as long as the jetty is here. “It’s the only profession I know,” he says.

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