Google Translate

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Myanmar, day 3 -- Yangon

Food sellers
The first order of the day today was to move from Yazuna Garden Hotel (with its super-heigh ceiling) to Park Royal Hotel, which was just across the street. Traffic doesn't stop in Yangon, so we had to dash across at the first sign of a gap. And we had to breathe the noxious exhaust fumes too. Fumes are so powerful that they could be smelled even in the lobby of Park Royal.

Some pictures from the morning walk: public bus, nationalistic sign, a run-down building, a view down a street that was blocked by a truck!

We spent the rest of the morning shopping at Bogyoke Aung San Market. ("Bogyoke" means "general", the army rank.) It's a one-storey squarish non-air-conditioned shopping centre. Many small stores fill the area, which is about half the size of a football field. And it's a clothing paradise. More than half of the stores sell clothes, including the popular "longi" (not sure of the correct spelling), or sarong. In the central corridor (another pic), government-registered jewellery shops sell gold and precious stones. And they are the only stores that are allowed to trade with U.S. currency.

Along the narrow street, food sellers prepared their menus for the day. Most of them sold a noodle/bee hoon-type dish, which the seller mixed with several spices and curry -- with her bare hands! I didn't dare try it for fear of falling ill. Apparently, this dish is a typical lunch for the locals.

One thing my aunt told us is that the first customers at any store get good discounts, sometimes by as much as half the price! Another thing I noticed: after my mum paid for a blouse (she was the first customer there), the attendant used the money to hit the other clothes and racks. Perhaps it's a sign of good luck?

I bought a green T-shirt that says: "Have you been to Myanmar?" and the word "Myanmar" in Myanmarese behind. Nope, I wasn't the first customer. But I got a 500 kyat discount, ha.

Also present at the market were groups of monks. They wandered the corridors, chanting and soliciting donations from the store owners.

Another constant presence, especially near the jewellery shops: men approaching tourists asking, "Change U.S. dollar?"

Talking about tourists, one thing I observed was that no one, whether men or women, exposed their legs. Therefore, no shorts, no knee-high (or higher) skirts. Everyone either wore sarongs or, for the men, trousers. The only ones who had exposed legs were tourists and small children. Perhaps it's a cultural thing.

I was also constantly amused by the yellow powder/cream on their faces. Apparently, it's a sunblock. And everyone uses it.

We had dim sum lunch at Trader's Hotel, which is supposedly where Singaporeans congregate. Only this time, we didn't run into any, perhaps due to the shift of the country's capitol.

After lunch, we still had some time before the next item in our itinerary, so we took a drive around the city. We passed the Buddhist temple in the heart of the city and City Hall (or what used to be City Hall before the capitol was shifted). Yangon retained some of its British architecture, like the building for the maritime authority. Also, road signs have two languages. Truly bilingual!

We also stopped by Strand Hotel, supposedly the first hotel in Myanmar. It's also a five-star restaurant where dishes at its restaurant go for double-digit U.S. dollars a pop! But it is a very classy hotel.

We then paid a visit to the Singapore ambassador. My uncle knows him and he had invited us for tea. Like a country bumpkin, I was fascinated by the dishes with the Singapore crest.

An amusing story from him and his wife: no one is allowed to fish at Inya Lake. But some people do, and no one stops them. Because they're soldiers, who are bored from their duty of guarding someone under house arrest.

Dinner was at Green Elephant Restaurant, a place that serves Myanmarese dishes. Someone whom my uncle knew treated us to dinner there. We had an assortment of dishes, including beef rendang, curry chicken, fresh water prawns, fish. And rice served in a cute porcelain bowl. Personally, the food tasted similar to Thai food. But that shouldn't be surprising since the people are neighbours, and therefore would have a history of shared culture.


Technorati tags: , ,


shasha said...

hi, nice trip.
I'm going to visit Myanmar, but as I googling around and came across, it stated the visa is only for single entry, does anyone know is there any way to get multiple entry visa? Currently I'm in Malaysia. need travel more than 1months.any help?

Yuhui said...

@shahsa: Yeah, it's only single-trip. There's probably an exception if you go there to work.

Post a Comment