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Yangon is the largest and most populous city in Myanmar. It is an interesting blend of colonial-era buildings, back alleys with unique street art, neighborhoods of poor infrastructure, ancient Buddhist pagodas, and tea shops at almost every corner.
One of the most fascinating sights in Yangon is something many visitors could easily miss. North of the central city, near the Yangon Zoo and Kandawgyi Lake, there is an abandoned amusement park fenced off from visitors.
Originally opened in 1997 by the then-ruling military junta, it seems to have been built to distract citizens from the brutal dictatorship in power. As the government violently suppressed uprisings outside the city, something was needed to divert the city’s attention. The park seems to have continued operation up until around 2012 or 2013. There are pictures from as recent as 2009 when it was still opened and local Burmese were celebrating New Years.
The closure of the park is somewhat mysterious, with rumors ranging from financial problems to hauntings, from murders to political bickering. Either way, the park was abandoned with a fence put up and everything inside left to decay. And it decayed quickly, with the tropical climate leading to vegetation taking over everything.
Not technically legal, there are ways to enter the park. Between a few holes in the fence, random open windows, and somewhat climbable barriers, those who want to explore the park can find a way in. Walking around the area is fascinating and incredibly creepy. Since the rest of the park and zoo next door is still open to the public, you can hear children playing and the noises of exotic wildlife. Having this soundtrack to the visions of abandonment gives the feeling of hearing the past, hearing the ghosts of children and families trying to forget their lives controlled by oppressive government, civil war and unrest.
As you walk around the decaying rides, shuttered buildings, and grimy play areas, you’ll see many sights familiar to an amusement park. The major attraction is the rollercoaster and if you’re not afraid of heights, walking up the structure will give you incredible views of the park and surrounding trees. It’s also a good way to scope out all the park has to offer.
There’s a carousel, two different bumper car sections, ticket booths and multiple other rides with and without names. You’ll find a ride with hot air balloons, one on a monorail with pedals to move the ride forward. There’s a double-sided rocket ride with one rocket sticking high out of the treetops while the other is at ground level, leaning uncomfortably to one side.
In the mechanisms of some rides you’ll stumble upon families of stray dogs. They seem to ignore people well enough but can get defensive of their territory at some times. It’s best to let them be. Other animals to avoid are possible snakes and of course, mosquitos. Having bug spray and watching where you step will be very beneficial.
Supposedly, there are plans to demolish the current structures and rebuild a new amusement park, connecting it with the zoo and the rest of the park. Planned by the Amenity Design Group, there hasn’t been any official updates since a Facebook post from May 2019. As we wait for future changes, it is looking like the days of this unique location are numbered.
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