A LIT­TLE FLIGHT READ­ING

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

THIS sub­stan­tial book of more than 200 pic­tures, re­leased this month, has a sub­ti­tle of New Im­ages from the Streets of Ran­goon. The use of the sup­planted names Burma and Ran­goon is a telling de­vice. The coun­try now known as Myan­mar, and its cap­i­tal, Yan­gon, are chang­ing so quickly that even im­ages shot two years ago can achieve in­stant archival sta­tus. A for­mer ar­chi­tect turned film-set de­signer, Kim Bud­dee, vis­ited Myan­mar in 2011 and 2012 and says he was ‘‘alarmed’’ that Yan­gon was ‘‘un­der threat of ex­tinc­tion by

KIM BUD­DEE re­de­vel­op­ment and mod­erni­sa­tion’’. Bud­dee, an Aus­tralian who has worked on films such as Lan­tana, and tele­vi­sion se­ries The Block and Celebrity Ap­pren­tice, de­cided to take ‘‘snap­shots’’ of ‘‘a mo­ment in time’’ be­fore Yan­gon’s build­ings were razed to make way for sky- scrap­ers and shop­ping malls. He has cap­tured streetscapes of derelict red-brick ed­i­fices with colo­nial iron lace and or­na­mented flour­ishes, such as the of­fices of the Burma Rail­ways Com­pany, now ear­marked for con­ver­sion into a five-star ho­tel at the cen­tre of a mixed-use res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial precinct. There are scar­let-robed monks and golden pago­das, barbed-wire fences and bar­ri­cades, the rusted hulks of cars and trucks on pot­holed streets. Tr­ishaw driv­ers, thongs tossed aside and cig­a­rettes lit, wait pa­tiently for cus­tomers.

Bud­dee has in­cluded a list of de­tailed com­men­tary-style cap­tions at the back of the book and ‘‘crys­tal ball’’ notes on Yan­gon’s rapid emer­gence from iso­la­tion. He writes of new free­ways cir­cling the city, and delta farm­lands be­ing ab­sorbed into ur­ban sprawl. The mes­sage is clear — bet­ter go now.

Long­boats at Dalah on the Yan­gon River

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