Yangon, Dala Township

A short ferry ride takes me across the Yangon River and into the Dala Township which was virtually destroyed by cyclone Nargis in 2008. Today it is the poorest part of Yangon and home to 2 million people, many of which live in simple wooden shacks perched over squalid waterways and ever-growing piles of rubbish.

For a few bucks you can take a trishaw around the labyrinthine warren of alleys and streets that make up Dala, it feels like another country in a land that time forgot compared to downtown Yangon.

Kids would call from tin shacks and run down the broken pathways and rickety bamboo bridges frantically waving at you. Goats, cows, geese and all manner of beast roam the streets alongside a population which primarily uses the bicycle to get around, there are no cars here.

A pause at a neighbourhood to buy snacks for some local children almost causes a riot as hundreds of them soon appear to get their fill. There is a danger that this type of ‘poverty tourism’ will alter the lives of the people here in the wrong way, though at the moment any tourist dollars going to the locals and not the government must be a good thing.

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