The true heart of China town
The heart of Chinatown
Latha is the heart of Chinatown with temples perched on rooftops, Chinese door signs, Chinese language DVD shops and bakeries selling moon cakes. It dates back to a century ago when Chinese from Yunnan, Guangzhou and Hokkien province fled the hardship in their country. Now into the third or fourth generation most have Burmese names, but still keep to their Chinese roots.
At its height an estimated 10% of Yangon’s population was ethic Chinese with many Chinese language schools, clan associations and temples in this part of town. That was before General Ne Win expelled all foreigners, and many Chinese fled or were forced to keep a low profile. A little-known fact is that ironically, Myanmar’s infamous general Ne Win was a kabya (Sino Burmese) himself…
Long and short sleeves
Cantonese were called eingyi to (short sleeves) because many came to Myanmar as craftsman who typically wore short-sleeve jackets. Instead, most of the Hokkien were traders with their long-sleeved jackets (or eingyi shay). Many Chinese immigrants became successful in the rice and gem trade, or as the famous Burmese expression goes: “Earn like the Chinese, save like the Indian, and don’t waste money like the Bama”.