Maugham's Burma

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Back in the day, The Strand Hotel in Rangoon was one of the most exclusive hotels in Burma and catered only to white clientele. It was actually started by the same folks who started the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and it has much the same feel: Victorian design with a British-in-Asia vibe.

While we didn’t stay in The Strand Hotel, we did stop by for drinks during the day and were happy to find that the drinks were significantly cheaper than those in Singapore (which I guess any country’s alcohol would be cheaper than Singapore’s).  We were so excited about these prices that we decided to return for happy hour and make a night of it: playing card games, revelling in the air-conditioning, and drinking cocktails. We then took a cab, which cost about $3 USD, back to a side street near our hotel to satisfy the late-night munchies.

It was an interesting juxtaposition: sitting in a grand hotel and walking the side streets of Myanmar. What a contrast it was - relaxing in the quiet, cool, clean colonial bar sipping cocktails versus navigating the loud, hectic, humid streets in search of satay and beer. I can imagine the likes of Maugham and Kipling experiencing a fine stay in Burma, living a completely separate existence from the locals just outside the walls of the hotel. However, the times are slowly changing, for within and without these walls, one can now find found foreigners and locals alike.



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