I have been wanting to go to Myanmar for the past….. wait, you cannot believe this… 25 years!! Yes that is right, a quarter of a century!
You see, I was invited to visit Myanmar by a colleague. Although at that time he was not residing there, he could arrange for his people ( family and friends, not the mafia!) to show us around. During that time, I was still young in my business ( and still young myself!! LOL ) and was busy building it. How time flies, as when the business took off, we were so busy that we did not have the time to go. So fast forward and finally I am going to Myanmar.
I need to apply for a visa. It costs USD 50. The application is easy and online. There is one official site for you to do so, and it is quick and there is not service fee. Do be aware that there are others that offer the same service and charge you a fee. BTW, when I did mine , there were no other visa service organisations. The turn around time for the visa is 3 days max, but I got everything done within 24 hours. The official website is here, Myanmar eVisa (official government website, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.)
I fly Air Asia as I have 40K Bigshot points from my previous trip home, as I spent a lot on my credit card.
My flight to Myanmar is eventful. I notice that when the plane is in mid-air and the captain makes an announcement for the passengers to remain seated, some guys will somehow attempt to get out of their seats. This prompts the captain to admonish the passenger(s) to remain seated. This happens several times during the flight, as well as when we are about to land. So much so that the stewardesses have to rush to the passenger(s) to tell them to sit down. I think the Captain must be very vigilant, always viewing the CCTV of the cabin.
When I mentioned this to my host, he felt so embarrassed and was of the opinion that his some of his countrymen were not well-behaved, or do not know the normal code of behaviour. But from my point of view, I think it is due to the fact that the country is opening up and more people are travelling especially for the first time. They do not know the proper behaviour, or etiquette or understand the safety procedures. I say this is because it happened in Malaysia in the 70’s to 80’s when more people start to travel by air. There was a tendency for the passengers to rush to open up the overhead compartments before it was safe to do so. Nowadays Malaysians are more compliant of the safety rules.
So it is a development (of the country) issue. I am sure the Myanmese will outgrow it. So I assured the host that it is only natural that such thing happens.
When I relate this to my sis-in-law, she was of the opinion that they probably do not understand English. She knows this as she has maids from Myanmar who know limited English. So there you go, the explanations. So if you go to Myanmar and encounter this issue, do have a heart.
When I touch down and exit the airport my hosts are there waiting for me. The first thing is to purchase a phone SIM card. It is much cheaper to use the country’s mobile service than to use your own home country service. The tip is to take a spare phone with you and you can have your own home phone just in case of emergency. The SIM card is only 1000 Kyats. ( around RM3. or £0.56).
And they even brought some Myanmar Kyats for me to exchange. How very thoughtful of them!! When you are in Myanmar, everything is in USD!! That is if you are a foreigner!
After all the important bits, we leave for Yangon and proceed to a restaurant. It is almost dark now. The restaurant that we go to serves typical Burmese fare. This is a typical restaurant that the locals go to. It looks and feel like home. Just like a Malaysian restaurant, the local ‘gerai’, or Malay shop, or the local Chinese or Indian shop in the towns. The way the food is displayed is so typical of Malaysian’s.
The décor looks familiar!!
Here you can find (in the glass) lettuce, fern leaves of some sort; on the plate: blanched 4-angled beans, blanched purple eggplant, white eggplant, cucumber slices, shoots of some sort ( I think it is bamboo shoots), blanched local vegetables, and carrots.
I had this before in my friends’ (hosts) house before. It can be eaten anytime as a snack. The crispy beans and nuts are nice. The fermented tea leaves is an acquired taste.
From top right, we have chicken curry; fish cake curry; potato salad; fish cake curry; rice, soup-vegetable, tamarind and fish; vegetable salad with crispy fried onions and fish curry.
The fruits are similar to Malaysia’s: water melon, pineapple, papaya, grapes ( they do grow their own) honey melon, etc.
The meal is very interesting. For dessert, we had glutinous rice with coconut filling and it is chargrilled over fire. This is similar to our ‘pulut inti’.
I do enjoy the salad and the belachan dip. It reminds me of home.
After dinner we then went home to unpack and relax.
I hope you like my post so far, please share and like in face book or twitter. This will keep me going.
There will be more to come. To Yangon, Bagan and Inle …..