The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #118


A reader writes:

It looks like a downtown view of Panama City, with maybe the Iglesia del Carmen on the right hand side in the background. The rooftops in the foreground, and the bland 1970s apartment block on the right, seem unmistakably Panamanian.


Metro Manila, Philippines, just outside of Makati. The giveaway is actually the very distinctive Iglesia ni Cristo church (the pointy building just to the right of the blue metal roof). Those churches are all over the Philippines, but especially in Metro Manila.


I realize this could be about anywhere, but the buildings, the red roofs, and the upward pointing satellite dishes remind me of parts of Bangkok I see when I ride the Skytrain.


It’s been a while since I responded to one of these, because there’s so many people doing the VFYW puzzle that there’s always someone who pops up and says either “OMG! I’m in this very building right now!” or “OMG! I grew up half a block from there!”. That’s not your fault, that’s just the success of the blog. That’ll happen with this one, too, but all I have to go on is a city with a mix of old and new, red roofs, and my favorite, satellite antennas. I can’t resist satellite antennas. They are the clue of clues. We’re very nearly equatorial. We’re probably in Vietnam. We’re probably in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon. Sure, we could be somewhere else. But not all that far away, right?

Right, but not quite the right country. Another reader works his way to the correct answer:

First time I’ve played this game, but I love it. My initial glance at the picture said several things:

Asia – wasn’t 100% sure, but the roofs just looked Asian – something you’d see in Shanghai. Red roofs in Europe, Americas would most likely be tile. Warm, probably tropical, climate. Slopes of roofs suggest it never snows but rains a lot (note repairs on roof in foreground). Also buildings look generally open. Not wealthy – satellite dishes are old school, and it just looks ramshackle. This ruled out Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore for me. Developing, but not developed. Cranes in background suggest active construction. Doesn’t look overbuilt either, but hard to tell.

Of course the most obvious feature is the church spire on the right – so it’s likely an old city that had a strong colonial history. I should note I’ve never been to any of the likely places (I’ve been to Rangoon-mapJapan and Beijing, but that’s it for Asia). I considered some of the major colonial cities of southeast Asia – Shanghai, Jakarta, Hanoi – but none of the churches seemed right. So I considered various places in India. Reconsidered my Asia hunch (Carribean/Africa – nothing made sense). Then, as I stared at the image some more, the church just kept on saying “British colonial”, and when I put together “British colonial”, southeast Asia, and not wealthy, Rangoon, Burma popped into my head. So I started looking at images of Rangoon and became convinced that I was right.

Rangoon is also known as Yangon and Burma is often called Myanmar. Four readers correctly answered the city. The second:

The photo appears to be taken from the Alfa Hotel on Nawaday Road in Yangon, Myanmar.  The view is looking South from the back of the hotel.  My first impression was that this was somewhere in Southeast Asia and in one of the poorer developing countries so that meant Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar.  I did some searches for churches with steeples in these countries and was able to match the steeple in the photo to a photo of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Yangon.  Using Google Maps Satellite images I found the red roofed buildings in the foreground with the rooftop water tanks and noted the Alfa hotel in a location that would match for the photo.  I travel in Southeast Asia frequently and have been meaning to visit Myanmar given the recent advances toward democratization.  I am in awe of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and would love to visit her country.


This week’s view is a topical one, given the rapid changes in the Burmese political system. It shows the city of Yangon, Alfa Hotel Front Labeled - Copyformerly referred to as Rangoon. The picture was taken from roughly the tenth story of the Alfa Hotel at 41 Nawaday Street, Dagon Township looking south, south east towards te riverfront. Two local landmarks anchor each side of the picture. On the right is the steeple of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, one of the oldest colonial structures in the city, dating to 1886. On the left is the decidedly more modern blue-glass Centrepoint Tower, which opened in 2010.

Attached are a pair of street views of the Alfa Hotel, a labeled overhead map and web links to shots of both the Centrepoint Tower and the Holy Trinity Church. One of the shots of the hotel is labeled with what I presume would be the floor and location of the viewer’s window on the opposite of the building, as I was unable to find a shot of the Alfa’s southern facade.

Another visual guess:


We have yet to hear back from the photo submitter as to the exact location of the window, but we will update the results as soon as we do. Update:

How exciting! Sorry for the delay.  Well, not only did several of your readers guess it right, but they also did so with pinpoint accuracy!  The picture was indeed taken from the Alfa Hotel in Yangon.  And it was taken from the 11th floor.  So I guess the third reader who guessed the city right is the most precise (and almost creepily so…). Great job on your readers part picking out the Anglican Church (and knowing what it was); it wasn’t the highest quality pic.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. Made my day!