Embracing the Legendary Burmese Love in Yangon Myanmar

15
  February 27, 2017 travel posts 🕑 4 minutes read

On the street in Yangon.

 

Kitty don’t play that.

 

At least when we tried to pick up the bill.

 

She refused to let Kelli our I pay the bill for dinner. Or for the taxi.

 

So we just accepted these generous gifts from a kind, loving woman from beautiful, rich and vibrant Yangon, Myanmar.

 

Our First Day in Myanmar

 

After stumbling out onto the street – 20 minutes sleep after about 20 hours of travel – Kelli and I strolled around Yangon.

 

First impressions: Walker’s town! I felt the throngs of briskly walking Burmese overtake me on hitting the pavement. And if I moved too slowly that pavement hitting seemed like it may literally happen.

 

People here are nice. Genuinely friendly. A kindly woman smiled at me as I peeped her corner stand. Another lady wanted to see what photo Kelli was PREserving during one of her legendary snap shot frenzies.

 

Roasting meats tantalizing your taste buds. Buses hustling down main drags. Brilliant architecture. Friendly folks. Shops galore. People! Lots of people. But in a One-ness/warm/loving/strong living presence kinda way. Like….The Force is strong with these folks. Because of the love.

 

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang

 

Bang!

 

Within 2 seconds of meeting Kitty we were off to tea. Like she had a loving vice-grip on us. She asked. We accepted the offer. 5 minutes later we were off to dinner. Tea is not enough, she felt. Her treat.

 

This whirlwind of kindness runs consistent with what we heard about folks in Myanmar. They care. They love. They enjoy helping you learn about their land, which began to open up more to the outside world in the 80’s.

 

This is still largely unexplored territory to the masses of tourists who flock to neighboring Thailand. A bit mysterious. Not too many Western influences. Just….Myanmar.

 

Dinner….OK?

 

We enjoyed dinner at a Nepalise restaurant named….”OK?” Okay?

 

Kitty frequented this haunt regularly.

 

Sampling some fine fried chicken.

 

One of those off the beaten path spots a tourist would rarely frequent.

 

The mix of mild and spicy hit the spot, with a rich platter of curries, vegetable dishes, breads and rice going down smooth.

 

We wrapped up with 3 cups of hot ginger tea which were incredibly phenomenally delicious.

 

Wandering and Learning

 

As we wandered around town Kitty shared her storied past, leading tours in Yangon. Working with embassies and various organizations to show the real Yangon, the real Myanmar, to the individuals visiting this wonderful land.

 

We saw the Yangon Stock Exchange (had no idea it existed). The shipping terminal (had no idea it existed, although the old pier guard in me wanted to check numbers on containers). A few large pagodas, (I did know these existed) most notably the brilliant Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon.

 

When we wanted to duke her some kiyat for whatever, Kitty would not have it. All she wanted was to spread love, to give what she could offer and to do what she could to make our journey to Myanmar special.

 

Box ticked in all 3 categories.

 

This is the legendary Burmese Love we heard about from travel bloggers and tourists. Love never asks. Love gives. Kitty epitomizes this real, true love and the genuine nature of the Burmese beautifully.

 

The Traffic

 

We *did* get from Point A to Point B a few times here, yesterday. That’s all that counts.

 

Never mind how traffic lanes are mild suggestions. Or how every 3-4 minutes you WILL feel like you’re being wedged between buses or cars in a claustrophobic, Dagwood-like sandwich.

 

But hey….it’s Myanmar. Part of the game. Which I find charming, fun, thrilling and fascinating because amid the seemingly dangerous situation on the road and the illusion of recklessness these folks have a sense of order, certainty and confidence which ensures virtually all rides end without an accident.

 

The Buildings

 

Kelli and I both admired the intriguing architecture of loyal buildings.

 

Sule Pagoda.

 

From grand temples to stately government buildings we dug the rich mix of old and older amid the vibrant scene in an energetic capital.

 

Walker’s Paradise

 

Pedestrians in Yangon are what motorbikes are to Hanoi; they are everywhere.

 

Coming from car-obsessed and pedestrian-allergic Qatar this is a full 180. An appreciated 180. Because with boots on the ground you enjoy the feel of a place. The vibe.

 

Food stalls dot seemingly every corner. We even saw a Burger King. Not sure if it’s properly franchised. Props to this lady for being blunt. Much more honest approach than the “Stereo’s” sandwich cookies I enjoyed in Cambodia, a knock off of Oreo’s.

 

BK. Where’s my crown?

 

Roast meats. Fragrant smelling breads. Broths.

 

Then, fruit stands. Vegetable stands. More pedestrians. More pedestrians. More walkers. Hustling by; some at a more leisurely pace, some more frenetically barreling along.

 

Folks crossing the street at non intersections. Old dudes riding old skool bicycles in the middle of heavy traffic.

 

Smiles. Free lunches. Free taxi rides. Free tours.

 

This is Yangon.

 

Your Turn

 

Have you been to Yangon? Or Myanmar?

  1. Adeel Sami says:
    at 11:51 pm

    Hey, Ryan!

    Such a nice looking ancient city Yangon is!

    And so good to see you and Kelli are already enjoying it. 🙂

    But… How’s the weather at this time back in there? Hot? Warm?

    For me, I have not been to abroad yet but these Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and more are on my list when I start to travel. 🙂

    Have the utmost fun in Myanmar! 🙂

    ~ Adeel

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 9:53 am

      Hi Adeel,

      Definitely is!

      It’s funny, but even though we see 99 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity the past 2 days it doesn’t feel hot. Feels warm but not as hot as the temperature indicates. Maybe light breezes help. We also venture outside early in the morning and late during the afternoon. But numbers-wise it could be seen as a hot, humid place for sure at this time of year.

      Things get hotter in April but we will be in Thailand then. Where things also get hot 🙂

      All awesome lands! I have been to each – save peaceful Bhutan – and give ’em all 5 star ratings. Thailand is my fave but I loved my time in each country. SE Asia rocks. Not a far trip at all for you either. I betcha Bangkok is a 3-4 hour flight tops from Karachi or Lahore. Then you can fly anywhere on that list through Air Asia for like $100 USD or maybe even less in most cases. Maybe $150 tops. Not too bad at all.

      Will do brother!

      Ryan

  2. Dmitriy says:
    at 3:08 am

    Hey, what a brilliant, informative story about Yangon, Myanmar. The last time I checked, Myanmar was not even on my bucket list but after reading your post may be I will rewrite it.
    How about safety in Myanmar? Have you felt unsafe there at any point?

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 9:44 am

      Hi Dmitriy,

      Yes definitely add Myanmar to your bucket list.

      The country is starting to open up to the outside world over the past few decades with a strong push during the last few years. When Kelli and I researched coming here 6 years ago – at the start of our tour/travels – Myanmar had no ATMs. So you had to bring your cash with you. Plus you could not book stuff online. Meaning you walked from hotel to hotel to see where they had room at the inn 😉

      Different place now. ATMs all over and online bookings are easy.

      I have rarely felt unsafe during the last 6 years of world travel buddy and really, I’ve never felt more safe than I feel here because people genuinely want to help you. They care. They love. They are gracious hosts. Being out at night – 8:30 PM tonight – I saw no difference. Quiet, peaceful, still folks around as people love to do things at night because of daily heat and humidity.

      Thumbs up across the board on this one.

      Ryan

  3. Erin Southerland says:
    at 11:05 am

    Ryan,

    I haven’t been to Myanmar but it sounds like a fascinating place. I love that Yangon is full of pedestrians. My favorite way to travel is by walking and when a city is full of pedestrians I’m right at home.

    Enjoy Myanmar!

    Erin

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 6:16 am

      Hi Erin,

      I adore the place already. Jam-packed with walkers and like you, Kelli and I are major league pedestrians. We only rent motorbikes in Bali and Thailand because things are so spread out in Bali and on Phuket. But we never rent in Chiang Mai; just walk for hours to enjoy the gorgeous weather and A Plus scenery.

      Will do!

      Ryan

  4. Donna Merrill says:
    at 7:19 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    Beautiful story of some beautiful spots to travel to.

    I have never been there, but love pedestrian cities.

    And the architecture sure adds some spice to it all.

    -Donna

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 11:43 pm

      Hi Donna,

      Big time walking town so it’d be up your alley. The buildings fascinated me. I was so engrossed walking around I almost forgot the 100 degree temperatures plus humidity 🙂

      Ryan

  5. Amar kumar says:
    at 5:45 am

    Hey Ryan,

    Different different places around world provide better experience and learning. Yangon is absolutely very beautiful place and rich in culture, my friend visted last year and he has lot of wonderful memories regarding beautiful places of Yangon. Eventually, thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 2:08 am

      Hi Amar,

      Yangon is gorgeous in its own way. I betcha your buddy had a fun time.

      The pagodas are amazing. Towering, massive and so much gold!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Ryan

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.