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Despite having been deposed as capital in 2005, Yangon (formerly ‘Rangoon’) is most traveller’s gateway to Burma. Its resplendent centrepiece is the gold-brick, diamond- and ruby-encrusted Shwedagon Paya, the world’s oldest stupa, which transfixed Kipling in the late-19th century and in more recent times has served as the focus for rallies voicing opposition to Burma’s military regime. Visitors make offerings of flowers and gold leaf at the eight ornately decorated, pagoda-roofed shrines surrounding it. Another great place for crowd watching is Yangon’s historic waterfront, where streets lined by charismatic colonial-era buildings recall the hey day of the British empire.