Back from Burma

Hello, hello!

Sorry for the blogging hiatus again, but the bird’s back from her magnificent trip to Burma/Cambodia!

The entire trip was great!

Definitely a place that one has to go to in his/her lifetime!

Hence, even if this Raven’s already a couple of $$$ poorer than she was before, this trip was still able to reinvigorate her love of traveling! It’s an expensive habit, but so worth it as it’s been an eye-opening experience all throughout, and I believe I’m a better person for it. 😉

Let’s start first with the picture of my trusty new orange backpack…

The reason why I took this picture was to make you realize that the plane was pretty empty so much so that even my orange backpack had a seat! Haha, the airline attendant even made sure that my baby’s strapped in.

No wonder traveling to Myanmar’s so damn expensive… the plane ain’t full at all!

Later, this versatile bag served as my pillow as I dozed on three luxurius seats for half of the 4.5-hour trip. Made it worth the price I paid for it.

My delicious lunch at Mandarin Airlines: Stewed Pork with Java Rice — one of my more delicious airline meals (although the meal on the way back, Pork with Szechuan Sauce, was of no comparison).
Okay, so sue me that I like to eat! But despite my exercising, just love good food!

Here’s my first glimpse of the Land of Gold:

Almost gave the airline attendant a heart attack since we were landing and weren’t allowed to use any electronic devices on the airplane.

Kindly note the muddy terrain, and the lack of greenery. Trust me that these characteristics are very noticeable all over Myanmar, with muddy streets and crowded places.

The Yangon International/Domestic Airport:

As you can see, they’re still constructing the buildings. Haha, from the airplane, we took a short (kindly note: less than one minute short) open-aired (no AC in Myanmar, as they’re too expensive) bus trip to the airport.
My friend almost fell off because the bus had no door, hence was left hanging by the opening!

After being driven to our hotel, the Hotel Nikko, and settling in a bit, we then decided to venture towards the city where we had our first glimpse of Buddhist monks, which are liberally scattered all over the capital. Trust me guys, everywhere you see, there’s Buddhist monks to be found!

I find it ironic on how a country as poor as Myanmar has that many devout Buddha followers. Haven’t you noticed that the poorer a country is, the more devout the people? Whereas the richer a country is, the less of a priority religion becomes?

Anyway there they stand in front of the non-airconditioned city hall, painted in gold, but actually looks more dire in person:
June is the start of the rainy season, so we had the luck of coming to Burma when the grounds are usually wet and muddy. However, our guide said it’s a lot better than coming to the summer season where temperatures can reach as high as 48 degrees C!

Here are some pictures we took on the road:

A man and his wife selling some water toys on the street… as if there are actually kids who can spare the cash to buy them:

Chestnuts sold on the street:
An actual phone booth where people can make calls domestically and internationally:

Myanmar’s so poor that people can’t afford phones at all. Instead, booths like these or phones for rent in stores are so very common, it makes me more appreciative on how technologically advanced Taiwan is. You can’t imagine that out of my entire trip, I only saw ONE cellphone, and Internet wasn’t widely available even in the capital. 🙁

I tell you, it was kinda great to be back to Taipei and savor the benefits of high-speed Internet connection… ahhhh.

We also missed Starbucks, and craved for it the entire trip. I swear, my friend was so willing to pay US$10 just for a cup of joe, and who’s to blame? Especially since the only coffee available in the 50 mile radius were instant coffee mixes… 🙁

You really do appreciate what you have, especially when you don’t have it at hand. 🙂

A child approaches us and offers us her postcards. Note the yellow makeup on her cheek:

This is what they call “thannaka,” which is made by rubbing the bark of the thannaka tree with a tad of water, and is used as a sunscreen to beat off the heat of the sun, as well as a tool of beauty.

Think of it as blush for the ladies of Myanmar… except it’s in yellow.

Everyone in Burma wears them, especially the kids and the women. Interesting huh?

Since nobody told me how conservative Burmese people were (Doh! I should’ve researched it on the Net!), I was the ONLY ONE IN THE WHOLE FREAKING CITY THAT WAS WEARING SHORTS THAT DAY!

You gotta believe me on how conscious it felt being the SOLE person, and a woman at that, wearing short shorts in Yangon… 🙁

God, guys were staring as if there’s no tomorrow, and it made me feel more that the tourist I am.

What’s even scarier was that there was one old guy who kept on following us!

How would you feel if you were followed by this Indian-looking man?

Yeah, I know… it was creepy.

I told my traveling companions about him, and one of them even mentioned, “Yeah, you’re right! He’s been following us ever since we got here. Gosh Raven, I think I even saw him fondling himself.

*Raven slaps forehead*

God, I haven’t even been to Myanmar for a couple of hours that I bump into a bonafide pervert. 🙁

*hits head on walls*

NOTE TO EVERONE: Dress conservatively when you go to Myanmar.

The notion was so preposterous, and even more so when my friend said, “Maybe he’s a flasher, and wants to show us his goods...”

I bursted out laughing.

Now, that was just silly.

Or is it?

Haha, with all the sarongs the guys were wearing, which looked like skirts, who can tell?

It was a bit later that we found out that this man was the uncle of our guide, and just wants to keep tabs on his nephew.

We laughed aloud again.

I mean, from pervert, to flasher, to just a harmless uncle of our guide.

Some people just think too much.

Since we were hungry, we had our first taste of authentic Burmese food:

Usually served in huge sets, Burmese food comprise of a lot of non-spicy curry (e.g., pork, mutton, fish, etc.), and soup for everyone with lentil leaves. It’s accompanied by a bunch of leaves, cucumber and beans to alleviate the salty taste, as well as side dishes which include tasty fishes and fried vegetables.

Food is cooked beforehand and can be chosen from a menu or the back kitchen. Then, they’re served with white rice on the table.

The taste is very local and difficult to explain, but very delicious. Our whole meal cost around US$2 a person, which is the “tourist” price. That means, a whole meal that would make you feel as if you’re bursting by the seems merely cost around NT$50 per head!


Just right outside the restaurant lay a small stall, which we would see more often around Burma. Here, the man takes a piece of leaf, puts some white paste on it, sprinkles some herbs and then wraps it around. US$1 can usually buy 4 pieces of these thing and we were quite curious on how they tasted as it seems that it’s in huge demand.

Given our curiosity, we gave our order of one set, and were surprised on how fast these were prepared:

It’s Myanmar’s version of BINLANG (Betel nut)!!!

Though it’s slightly licorice in taste, it was still quite offensive and we spit ours out, so we offered the rest to our guide and his uncle who chewed on them with delight.


Sound as they spit the rest into the street. They cautioned that one shouldn’t really swallow these things, but spit them out after chewing.

No wonder our guide’s teeth were already stained bloody red despite only being in his early 20s. But it seems that whereas people here would smoke and do drugs, people in Myanmar choose these betel nut leaves as their drug of choice.

Totally disgusting, especially when you see their teeth, but understandable considering the poverty surrounding this country.

After sating our appetites, we then went sightseeing at ventured towards the Sule Pagoda, which lies on the heart of Yangon, amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

Here, you can see just how many people come and worship at the temples (and we were there on a weekday afternoon) and note on the guy’s choice of clothes — sarongs!

Hahaha, Burma’s the place where guys can wear skirts, and actually be forgiven for it, as almost everyone wears it.

It’s very airy and comfortable,” our guide said when we asked him about it.

God, I hope he’s wearing underwear…

Wouldn’t it be kinda weird if something stuck out of it?

Anyway, we’re in a holy place so let’s not even think about it.

The Sule Pagoda was a very good welcome to Yangon, as it was filled with picturesque pagodas and golden shrines.
Of course, Buddha statues can be found almost everywhere in the vicinity:
They all come in many different shapes and sizes.

*to be continued*

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