Mingalabar! Welcome to Yangon, Myanmar
Minglabar means, "hello" or more formerly, "may you be fortunate and prosperous."
Arriving from Kathmandu, we immediately felt like we could live in Myanmar. It might have been that we’ve been to southeast Asia before, but right away from the scenery, seeing the people that were out and about, our smiling welcoming taxi driver, we were in a very comfortable, tropical country.
The hotels in Myanmar let you check in whenever you arrive. In this case, it was a 7AM arrival. Here are your keys, and enjoy your stay. Amazing!
We fell asleep for a couple hours after our overnight flight…
…woke up and headed for Yangon’s most famous pagoda (temple), Shwedagon Pagoda. Along the way from our hotel is a lake with a boardwalk all the way around for a leisurely, tranquil walk inside a bustling city. We hopped out of the park, and dodged away from a busy road to get into more of the back roads. Here, we got our first sense of the street food we’d be seeing around town. I turned around 50 times to go back, but had to stick to our game plan: See the pagoda, go to the noodle place down south, head to art museum, get to Chinatown.
Shwedagon has you climb about 10 stories of stairs to get to the top. Myanmar can be scorching walking around outside. Once we reached the top, a light breeze cooled us off, and right away a relaxed vibe takes over. Everyone is casually strolling around this gigantic stupa that splinters off into more stupas in every corner. I turned one corner, and saw the love of my life, the banyon tree. This was also my first introduction to a banyan tree, and I’m deeply deeply in love.
Walking around town, everyone is friendly. Mingalabar is how you say hello, and it’s just as much fun to say it as it sounds. The street food had me hawking around their little tables with even smaller plastic chairs before the art museum, but had to stick to the plan. I was dreaming of the street food I had in Bangkok, and knew I was getting close: Noodles, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, green onion, rice wine vinegar, red chili…
Art museum was closed, noodle shop was delicious, and to Chinatown we go.
Outside vendors are selling mostly cloth in the form of dresses, longyi's, and scarves. The men wear longyi's, which is a skirt you tie around your waist to not show your legs. Chinatown consists of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. This is where Bourdain came when he visited Yangon. We stepped into a small little watering hole serving $1.20 cold local beers and they tasted great after a hot day of walking around.
Even though we weren’t hungry, we couldn’t help but to sit down at one of the restaurants with seating placed into the street. We ordered the spicy basil leaf with chicken. Oh my God. Insanely good and insanely spicy. We were sniffling, and some tears, but couldn’t stop the chopsticks from going into our mouths. The flavor was savory, spicy, crunchy, and a little floral from the basil.
We had another day spent walking around before our night bus.
Highlights included finally some street food, which was actually more Indian than southeastern Asian. Samosa, egg roll, and a little coconut broth soup with lentils and chickpeas. Total meal was around less than $1.00.
The city park downtown was filled with young Burmese students and people laying about. Street food is also very popular right along the side of here. Fruit is sold everywhere, and is very refreshing on a hot day.
Very impressed Yangon.