Sunday, June 29, 2014

Restaurants in Yangon


How are you? Today I will describe some of the restaurant options in Yangon we experienced so far and we liked very much! There are many restaurants in Yangon, plenty to choose from depending on one's taste, budget and readiness to experiment.

Additionally you have the street vendors I already spoke about in one of my posts. I promised a picture of the grasshopper treats, so here it is:

For us, this is still an unknown delicacy as we didn't yet have the courage to try it.

Street vendors preparing food:

Back to the restaurant options:

I will start with the cheapest option which you will find in the 34th street, downtown Yangon:
999 Shan noodle shop  
(9 is considered a lucky number in Myanmar)

It is recommended in many travel books and we had quite a long taxi drive this Saturday to reach the place. Saturday was hot and the only air conditioning we had during the taxi ride were the open windows and the "fresh" air coming from the traffic outside. We asked the taxi driver if we could have the air conditioning and he's reply was "Sure, sure, 1000 Kyatts more", so we had to laugh and decided not to accept the offer. The way he explained it to us, the big smile and the friendly nature made us pay at the end 1000 Kyatts on top of the agreed price. He was happy and we were totally sweaty!

Once inside the restaurant which is a tiny room with wide open doors and air conditioning we occupied one of the 7 tables. At that moment there was a power cut and they had no electricity so no air conditioning inside. Very hot...

No toilet but hands could be washed in the kitchen.

The young lady who took our order spoke good English and you could see they were used to tourists. The food was great. As the name of the restaurant indicates it serves recipes from the Shan region of the country and they specialise in noodles. You should try the sticky noodles (you can chose between chicken or beef) which you can have as a soup or as a dish or the Shan noodle soup. Both recipes are not spicy and with plenty of flavors. The portions are not huge but enough for a lunch.
The price for two dishes and two fresh lime juices was 4600 Kyatts, around 5 USD.

The second restaurand we very much enjoyed for lunch was
Shan Yoe Yar (which means Shan tradition), a restaurant opened one year ago in a century-old house renovated in the style of traditional Shan Haw Palaces. We discovered it by chance when looking for the 999 Shan noodle shop and the taxi driver dropped us to this restaurant.

Again, a restaurant with traditional dishes from the Shan region. This one is a  a bit more expensive than the first option. Below a page from the menu.

We enjoyed some nice dishes from which I would only mention eggplant salad with mint, garlic and coriander, yummy!

and the spicy fish steamed in banana leaves, simply delicious:

The last option, the most expensive one, is a restaurant located inside the hotel Governor's House. About the hotel, a copy-paste from their website:

"A romantic, colonial-style mansion dating from the 1920s, Belmond Governor's Residence is redolent of the days when it was home to the ruler of Myanmar's southern states."

You have two restaurants inside, one Myanmar buffet and one à la carte. I was there last year for a drink with friends. I remembered the nice atmosphere and the beautiful surroundings so I wished to return for a dinner, which happened a year later!

The surroundings, the atmosphere, the service and the food are very good.

The buffet restaurant is placed on the first storey of the building which is in fact a large terasse. You can admire from above the luxuriant vegetation and the pond. The atmosphere was unique, also because there were few guests and we even had a small orchestra to play for us:

The buffet is diverse and the dishes are very nicely presented.. In the menu water, juice, tea and beer and even local cigars (!!!) are included. For 97 USD for two persons you will probably go there when you have something to celebrate!

Needless to say that in all the restaurants the service is great!

Enjoy the pictures below and till next time!

Sticky rice:

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Myanmar Times newspaper speaks about a French revolution

This morning I went through the articles of Myanmar Times newspaper (16-22 June edition) and in the section

The insider: the local lowdown&best of the web I read the following (I could not find the story on-line so I will type the short article):

"French revolution
A French tourist has staged a one-man protest in Sagaing Region, apparently unimpressed with the price of a hotel room in Kalaymyo. The man had traveled by boat from Myitkyina to Mandaly, then by road for the  remainder of his pre-protest journey. Upon arriving in the town, he was told it would be 20 USD for a room. In an act of defiance, he lay down a mat under the town's "Warmly Welcome and Please Take Care of Tourists" sign and settled in for the long haul. Local blogs reported that the authorities managed to reason with him, eventually arranging a room at the Aung Yadanar hotel for a more palatable 7 USD."

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shwedagon Pagoda

The Shwedagon Pagoda is the most famous pagoda of Myanmar. This is the second time we visited the pagoda and despite the impressive complex of golden temples I focused more on capturing people whilst praying and resting.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Flowers under sunshine!

Today, 27 June, I saw that the water lily has bloomed. Look how beautiful:


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Let it rain!

15 minutes ago

10 minutes ago

5 minutes ago

now it has almost stopped

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walking to discover Yangon

The only thing which might disturb you in your walks through the city is the air pollution from the traffic which increased in the last months. And, of course, the heat might be tiring for some...

Otherwise you have quite good sidewalks or enough roadside space to walk. The city bustles from early in the morning at around 5h30 a.m. until evening at around 9 p.m. While getting to know the city one will forget the time and distance between places and will pay attention at the life around. At each step you will find street vendors, dogs, kids playing, people sleeping or just doing nothing.

The street vendors are the most interesting as you barely recognize the things they are selling from snacks, drinks, fruits, vegetables, fish, meat  to products placed in small pots and bags I would say spices...and then beautiful flowers (and no, we are not in a market) and, of course, the food cooked on the sidewalks on small tables with improvised stoves. What kind of food? You have soups, curries and noodles, you have fried donuts or other sweet treats backed in oil heated on a coal stove and then you have this lady selling deep-fried crickets and grasshoppers (pictures will follow)! And I am sure we have not seen all of it...Some food vendors have space only for one or two clients others have more seats around them.

In your walks you will pass by a few parks and green spaces scattered around the city or around the two lakes of Yangon: Inya Lake and Kan Daw Gyi Lake (both lakes are artificial and were built as water reservoirs by the British) and some public parks, the most known being the People's Park close to the Shwedagon Pagoda. For some you will have to pay an entrance fee as a foreigner.

The locals like to rest on benches with young couples holding hands under an umbrella.

We visited the National Museum (5000 Kyats entrance fee, no US dollars accepted, no passport required as advised by our Routard (2013 edition) and no, the ticket is not valid for one week as written on it. It is valid only for one day. No pictures allowed).

The museum exhibits on 5 floors on Myanmar culture (art gallery, performing arts with musical instruments, traditional folk arts), history (prehistoric period, the impressive original 150 years old Lion Throne, royal regalia, furniture, costumes) and natural history (fossils).

After 20 minutes inside the museum an old man asked us if we would like a guide for 7000 Kyatts (read: Chats). After a hesitation we agreed hoping to receive some more explanations than the English translations on the exhibits. After a few brief words on the kings and queens clothing he proposed to meet us upstairs as we wished to take more time to look at the things he passed without any explanation. Well, he disappeared and we only found him at the exit with a big smile. He was not asking for the money but he was hoping to receive some. I am sure it was just a misunderstanding or he was having in the same time other clients and we found this incident quite funny. Most probably he was not an official guide of the museum.

Just to say a few words about the Strand hotel, an impressive colonial building situated on the street with the same name, next to the Yangon river. What a beautiful piece of architecture compared with some of the buildings around...We entered to have only a drink, and it was a welcomed break from the heat outside. Beautiful interior with relaxing harp music.

Yangon, a city of colours and contrasts.

Yangon, 15 June 2014
A shop to be visited while in Yangon to support local community: Pomelo


Descoperind Yangonul prin plimbări

Singurul lucru care te poate deranja plimbându-te să descoperi orașul este aerul poluat de la traficul care s-a intensificat în ultimele luni și, bineînțeles, căldura care poate fi obositoare pentru unii...

Altfel, există trotuare destul de bune sau suficient de mult spațiu la marginea drumului pe unde să mergi. Forfota începe dis de dimineață, de la cinci și jumătate și continuă până seara pe la ora nouă. În timp ce descoperi orașul uiți de timp și de distanțe, fiind atent la activitatea din jurul tău. La fiecare pas vezi vânzători stradali, câini, copii jucându-se, oameni dormind sau pur și simplu nefăcând nimic.  

Vânzătorii stradali sunt cei mai interesanți pentru că abia recunoști lucrurile ce le vând, de la snackuri, băuturi, fructe, legume, pește, carne la produse aflate în mici recipiente și pungi care cred că sunt mirodenii...și apoi frumoasele flori (și nu suntem într-o piață) și mâncarea gătită pe stradă, pe mese scunde cu sobe improvizate. Ce fel de mâncare? Au supe, curry și paste din orez, apoi mai au tot felul de aluaturi și dulciuri prăjite în ulei fierbinte pe sobe cu cărbune. Urmează o doamnă care vinde greieri prăjiți! Și sunt sigură că încă nu am văzut totul...Unii vânzători au scaune doar pentru unul sau doi clienți, alții pentru mai mulți.

În timpul plimbării vei trece pe lângă câteva parcuri și spații verzi. Două dintre ele se află în jurul lacurilor Inya și Kan Daw Gyi (ambele lacuri sunt artificiale și au fost construite ca și rezervoare de apă de către britanici) sau parcul public numit “Parcul Oamenilor” care se află în apropierea pagodei Shwedagon. Ca și străin va trebui să plătești intrare în anumite parcuri.

Localnicilor le place să se odihnească pe bănci, cupluri tinere ținându-se de mână sub umbrele.

Am vizitat Muzeul Național. Muzeul expune pe cinci etaje și prezintă cultura țării (galerie de artă, artă teatrală cu instrumente muzicale, artă tradițională folclorică), istorie (perioada preistorică, impresionantul tron regal orginal, vechi de 150 de ani numit “Tronul Leului”, diferite obiecte care alcătuiau regalia împăraților, mobilă și îmbrăcăminte) și istorie naturală (fosile). După douăzeci de minute un bătrânel ne-a întrebat dacă am dori un ghid pentru suma de 7000 de Kyats (a se citi ciat). După câteva momente de ezitare am acceptat în speranța că vom primi mai multe informații decât scurtele precizări de pe exponate. După o scurtă descriere a veșmintele regilor și reginelor ne-a propus să ne revedem la etaj deoarece noi voiam să studiem și exponatele la care nu ne-am oprit. Dar ne-am dat seama că ghidul a dispărut pentru că nu l-am mai întâlnit decât la ieșire. Bătrânelul avea un zâmbet larg pe față. Nu a cerut bani, dar spera să primească ceva. Sunt sigură că a fost o neînțelegere sau avea în același timp alți clienți, iar nouă ni s-a părut întreaga înâmplare foarte distractivă. Cel mai probabil nu era un ghid oficial al muzeului.

Câteva cuvinte despre hotelul Strand care este o clădire colonială impresionantă pe strada cu același nume, în apropierea râului Yangon. Ce frumoasă piesă de arhitectură dacă o comparăm cu unele dintre clădirile din apropiere...Am intrat să bem ceva și a fost o pauză binevenită după căldura din exterior. Un interior frumos cu o muzică relaxantă cântată la harpă.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Arrival and first impressions


We landed yesterday morning in Yangon.
A mild rain and a warm climate welcomed us.
The sky was grey, remained the same today and probably will stay like this for the coming weeks.

Yangon is very wet during the rainy season whereas the northern part of the country is so to a lesser degree. 

The second time in the country. This time for a longer period. This time we will call this part of the world home.

Everybody is kind and smiling since we arrived.

The lady at the border control, while taking my picture, said "Beautiful" with a big smile.
It does you good especially if you are very tired.

The fresh and beautiful Jasmin flowers hanging from the car's rear-view mirror which took us to the hotel made me think about the country's beautiful nature. Looking out of the window I saw kids playing in the water puddles that were forming in the abundant rain. They had so much fun.

The rain is part of the daily life of the people these months.

This morning the streets were flooded in front of our hotel. The people were rushing to start a new day: in the cars or pedestrians. It is good we brought the rain boots.

All in all we feel happy here.

Yangon, Myanmar 12 June 2014


Sosirea și primele impresii

Am aterizat ieri în Yangon.

Ne-a întâmpinat o ploaie blândă, într-un climat cald.

Cerul era gri, la fel este astăzi și probabil va rămâne la fel în săptămânile care urmează.
Yangonul este foarte umed în sezonul ploios în timp ce nordul țării are o climă ceva mai uscată.
Suntem pentru a doua oară în țară. De data aceasta pentru o perioadă mai lungă. De data aceasta vom numi acest colț al lumii casă.
De când am aterizat toți oamenii sunt binevoitori și cu zâmbetul pe buze.

Doamna care ne verifica pașaportul, făcându-mi o poză, a afirmat, cu un zâmbet larg, „frumoasă”! Ne-a făcut să ne simțim bine mai ales că eram foarte obosiți.

Florile proaspete și frumoase de iasomie care atârnau la oglinda mașinii care ne ducea la hotel m-au făcut să mă gândesc la natura bogată a țării. De la geamul mașinii vedeam copii jucându-se în bălțile de apă care s-au format de la ploaia abundentă. Ce distracție!

În aceste luni, ploaia face parte din activitatea zilnică a localnicilor.

În această dimineață străzile din fața hotelului au fost inundate. Oamenii, în mașini sau trecători, se grăbeau să înceapă o noua zi. Este bine că ne-am adus cizmele de ploaie.

În general ne simțim fericiți aici.
Yangon, Myanmar 12 iunie 2014