End of February 2017 the time had come and we packed our backpacks to go on a four week adventure. Only ten days before departure I had a surgery to have my appendix removed and luckily everything went fine and I could look forward to our journey. I was still weak and in pain, I couldn’t yet walk straight neither carry may backpack but thinking about the adventure that was awaiting us, gave me strength to stay positive and tell myself everything is going to be fine. And it was, although we did have quite a bumpy start. Jetlagged from the flight, barely being able to deal with the heat and humidity in Bangkok and just exhausted.
The beaches in Thailand were just what we needed to prepare for a Myanmar adventure.
After having spent 2 wonderful weeks in Thailand, relaxing, recovering and recharging our batteries, we were ready for Myanmar! We flew from Bangkok to Yangon, which used to be the capital, until they decided to just change it out of nowhere. Breathing burmese air for the first time wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. When we researched the weather before, we found out it was supposed to be almost 40Â°C hot. Of course it was hot but the heat was super dry which made it bareable. Even at night the temperature sank down to about 16Â°C which was actually super cold. So yes the weather is crazy and it takes a day or two to get used to it.
We spent two days in Yangon which has about five million inhabitants. Two days was just about right I would say. We had enough time to do all the sightseeing stuff i.e. take a look at all the Pagodas and Temples, go shopping at the markets, try some burmese bbq and some beers (which come in giant bottles and you share them) and even had a stroll through the park.
The city itself is somewhat chaotic, as are many cities in southeast asia I would say. You do get the feeling that the environment and the country in general still have a long way to go. This is only logical thinking about the amount of time Myanmar has been ruled by the military and even now there are many problems regarding rights in general. It’s even more beautiful to see that the people you meet are the most kind, friendly and polite people I have probably ever met.
Most of burmese we were in contact with, were the hosts in hour hostels or hotels or the waiters at restaurants or just people at the market selling their stuff. And yes maybe they were just so nice because they wanted us to buy things but I like to believe that most of the people at least, actually meant it. Myanmar is not like Thailand where theres loads of tourists and you can always find someone speaking english, so these people made us feel welcome and comfortable in a place where we didn’t know the language nor much of the culture or history. The pagodas and temples in Myanmar are especially impressive. They are all covered in a layer of gold and all of the bigger pagodas are decorated with uncountably many diamonds and crystals in all sorts of colours. You can never go in with your shoes on and you should always cover your body. As a tourist or traveller always remember to bring an extra scarf or buy one at one of the markets.
One of the best ways to get to know a country and its culture is in my opinion, to try every food you can find. Of course you have to be careful sometimes because European stomachs are most of the time not used to the spices. Me personally I loved the food in Myanmar, you can get all sorts of dishes, especially in Yangon there is this one street where they have bbq’s everywhere and you can get grilled meat, fish, prawn, very delicious tofu, veggies, just everything.
I also loved Burmese chicken curry. It’s a lot different from a usual curry, it’s not very saucy and they cook it with a whole lot of oil and spices and then you get a small bowl of curry and a bowl of rice with it. Sometimes you even get a bowl of soup with your meal. This happened to us at a market in a very small town and I think it was something like a spinach soup. It doesn’t really matter to be honest because it was really nice and we just ate it. I love this about the communication barrier, you are kind of forced into trying new things because you can’t ask upfront. Most probably this will lead you to delicious meals! In general I had the impression that every meal is quite oily and fatty but I guess that’s what makes it taste to good.
So delicious! It’s too bad I haven’t found a Burmese restaurant yet because I really miss it, it was just so good!
Amazing is also the breakfast. So where in Thailand for example you can get toast and eggs at every corner, in Myanmar you don’t get it outside your hotel at all. We always found little places that looked a bit like canteens. The way it works is, you sit down, and they bring all sorts of pastries and sweets and pancake-like things to your table. They also bring you tea and the Burmese tea is traditionally black tea with sugared condensed milk.
It’s unbelievably sweet but still it’s nice and it’s just authentic! I think it’s important to try as much national stuff as possible because that’s why you go there right?!
Stay tuned for more infos about this beautiful country especially the city of Bagan which I will tell you about in Part 2 🙂 A place full of pagodas, temples and mystery.