Run Yangon reveals city’s hidden secrets
SCAVENGERS in their hundreds took to the streets of Yangon on August 7, poking their noses into unexpected places, accosting innocent police officers armed with candy, and hugging unsuspecting strangers.
About 60 people joined the Run Yangon Scavenger Hunt, organised by the Pre-Collegiate Program (PCP). Their mission: to keep their eyes open, take notice of things they would normally ignore, and treat the people they encountered as if they were, well, people.
The organisers created the event so that Yangon residents could learn a little more about their city, its residents, its buildings, its history and its geography.
“We incorporated the missions into the living restoration project. Participants had to visit colonial-era buildings to complete their objectives, which included taking photos, finding out when the foundations of a building were laid and so on,” said organiser Hnin Ei Nandar, 18.
The hunters were sent out on a total of 50 different missions. Some were tasked with finding out the true name of the Lokanat Building*, what Mahabandoola Park used to be called** and what it is built on, the original name of Bank Street*** and so on. So, like Pokemon Go, but with real stuff.
Some scavengers were ordered to divide into teams of two and lick an iced lolly together. Some had to adopt a Titanic-style pose on a bridge, pedal a trishaw, knock on a door and escape by leaping on a bus, or hand candy to a traffic cop.
“Some people don’t like traffic police. But for a scavenger, orders are orders. Our officer took the candy we offered him, and then let us take a picture of him. I didn’t expect that,” said 23-year-old Kyi Kyi Sway.
“Another task was to track down indigo dye. Apparently Myanmar was once famous for its indigo. I didn’t know that either.”
Other participants reported having their eyes opened for them. “Normally, we travel by car, not on foot. Now I can recognise many more places,” said Poe Zarchi.
Her friend and teammate Htet Myat Swe added, “Maybe we’d be better at communicating if we had to talk to strangers and hug them. For hugging purposes, you have to choose the right target. I went for the family with children because they seemed to be more up for it.”
Khin Me Me Thet agreed, and pointed out the most beneficial aspect of the process.
“Now I know the streets of downtown Yangon.”
* The real name of Lokonat Building is the Soefer building, after its designer Isaac Soefer. **Mahabandoola Park was called Fytche Square (after the then Chief Commissioner of British Burma Albert Fytche) during the colonial era. ***Bank Street was originally known as Shafraz Road.
The spread is normally gone by dinner time, so hurry over for a full sea food lunch. One of the most popular dishes is fisherman’s soup, known as tout san.
Myat Noe Pwint Phyu, a participant, runs through her checklist.