Well I am nicely settled in my hotel room in Yangon. Look what greeted me when I blearily opened the curtains at 6:30 this morning!
Now let me back up a bit. Leaving Toronto Tuesday morning with minus 23 c. and a wind chill of minus 36 c. didn’t seem to be any hardship on my part to be sure, but we almost didn’t leave on account of the intense cold and resulting frost quakes. We did eventually of course and the 4 hour layover in Seoul was reduced to a frantic sprint from on end of the terminal to the other – including one of those incomprehensible internal security checks – only to find that the Yangon flight was also delayed. Thank goodness, else I would not have made it! Once I caught my breath I had a little time to look around and I think Seoul airport is one of the good ones. They have these “Power Towers” everywhere for recharging any and all electronics, which creates some interesting clusters of people here and there. There are the ubiquitous international brand shops and a heavy preponderance of “Hello Kitty” type places – never got that one myself but maybe I’m the wrong age or something; and ALL kinds of eating places. Everything very neat and tidy and clean. I loved the electric carts for ferrying passengers around – they play classical music to warn pedestrians away!
Landing in Yangon I was pleasantly surprised that we were the only inbound flight and we were processed out incredibly fast, tho’ I have to say that the customs and security people could learn something about courtesy – mind you I have run across very few around the world who couldn’t.
That first seductive whisper of warm air perfumed by charcoal fires was heaven sent! The streets were also empty; maybe half a dozen cars and as many people out at midnight – I gather this town isn’t much on nightlife. The hotel too had a pleasant surprise – perfect internet connectivity in my room!
I headed out this morning with my guide Min Min who as it turns out will be with me until I leave on the 23rd. A word or two about nomenclature – apparently most people don’t have last names, they do however have a formal name and then a nickname – which seems to be doubled – Min Min, Yu Yu, Bo Bo etc. I wonder if I’ll get to be Kim Kim? It would be the first time having a short one would pay off.
We walked through the food markets and sampled all sorts of street food – I know, I know – walked around an old neighbourhood, had tea and little samosa like pastries at a tea house and walked some more, ending up at the old British Colonial centre of town and finally to another, hugely chaotic restaurant for lunch and an ice cold local beer. It was a “Yangon for Foodies” tour after all! Tomorrow I shall spend the morning with a chef learning to prepare some of these foods and then of course we get to eat my efforts. The afternoon will be spent meditating – like perhaps how to “think” off all the meals?
I didn’t make many photos, too foggy from jet lag and I wanted to just absorb the pace and the feel of the place first. First impressions – the city is really quite clean, the drivers are really quite insane and the pedestrians are certifiable. The only advantage I see over Indian traffic is we aren’t throwing a lot of loose livestock into the mix! People are very courteous and friendly and short, and I hardly saw another tourist all day.
I’m heading for a short nap now and then I shall walk down the street for dinner and early to bed. So pleased I can communicate – at least in Yangon!