January 25, 2018
Jetstar really is a no frills airline so we arrived in Yangon from Singapore, tired and hungry. After checking in to the Ocean Pearl 3 we set out to find something to eat. The eatery didn’t look impressive but we didn’t care. The lady was sweet and agreed to take US dollars as we didn’t have any Kyat yet. A paratha (flat bread), a couple of fried eggs and some interesting cole slaw with a bottle of water was perfect for our needs. We chatted for a bit as she gave us her life history and taught us to say thank you in Burmese. The total bill was $1.50. I gave her 2 and said that was fine, but no way, she had to give me change! So our introduction to Myanmar was very nice!
Friday, January 26th
We managed to get cash today after trying 3 ATM machines and purchased sim cards for our phones at the train station. At the equivalent of $2.50 we figured it would be nice to have data
There’s a “circle train” in Yangon that services all the outlying areas of metropolitan Yangon. Although it’s meant for locals to get around, it’s a great way for visitors to see the whole area. At less than 50 cents, it’s a pretty cheap 3 hour tour. The locals don’t even seem to mind a few tourists riding along with them taking photos of strange things. I sat beside a lady who appeared to be several years older than I. She sat cross legged on the bench seat. When I pointed out how impressive her flexibility was she thought I wanted her to put her feet down. No! I showed her by trying to do it myself that I didn’t have NEAR her flexibility. She just laughed.
Later I sat across from a young woman who asked me if the sun coming in the open window was hot. When I nodded she offered to change seats! Very sweet of her but I declined.
The journey was fascinating as we got to have a peek into the daily lives of the Burmese. Men were waist deep in water, harvesting some kind of water vegetable. Others were hoeing weeds. Some were sorting through plastic and bundling it. People walked around with large baskets of things on their heads. Lots of things were going on!
Saturday, January 27th
It’s another hot day. This isn’t even HOT for Yangon and it’s making me wilt.
After visiting the St Mary’s Cathedral we wandered some more, purchasing fresh watermelon and green mangoes from street vendors. Somewhere in China town we found a street of vendors selling longyis, the traditional skirt worn by men and women. After picking our favourite pattern, the lady helped us put it on and showed us (repeatedly) how to dress ourselves. It was pretty amusing. They were cheap, everyday longyis at 3,000 kyat (less than $3) and perfect for our needs.
We continued to wander wearing our longyis and imagining that we fit in with the locals now. HA!
We happened upon a Hindu temple where something seemed to be going on so we removed our shoes and entered. It was crowded and there was lots going on involving huge trays of fruit. People were sitting on the floor. A man was chanting over very loud speakers. A woman offered me food and when I declined a man took it and passed it to me anyway. I guess you have to eat when you go to this service. The food was really tasty too! It was paratha with ghie and spicy chick peas that when you put it together were really good. A kind fellow explained to Sue that they had just finished a 9 day fast and this was the celebration. Interesting! Everyone was very gracious and welcoming and didn’t seem to mind foreigners in their midst. Maybe it was because we’re wearing the longyis? 😉
Today we joined our Stray Asia tour. We checked out of our guesthouse and the driver picked us up along with our guide, San and two other group members. We spent the morning touring Yangon and nicely visited all the places we’d not visited on our own. Perfect!
After a late lunch we stopped at San’s hotel room and took turns cleaning up and getting ready for our night bus adventure