DAY 122: GETTING TO KNOW MYANMAR

Yangon, Yangon Province, Myanmar

We met in the evening with Ole. We were late, but he had a long smile on his face. He was obliged to wait for us at a corner in Yangon as he had no way to contact with us. He sat and watched all the action that occurred around him and got several times approached by local people for a chat. That is the nice thing of this city, it’s a theater show.

We were a “bit” late as walking through the street we had the urge to make pictures at every corner. It’s hard to describe but the approach of the people is different than other countries we’ve visited. People seem to have another vibe and small details arise from each corner. As we had a bit of a hurry we couldn’t take all the pictures we wanted. Maybe this was a positive thing as otherwise we would of taken too much time.

We headed to a local train that looped around the city. The train is known for its slow speed and for its vibration, compared as a washing machine. This comparison is completely certain! The train circled around Yangon so you could see the city and its surroundings in a relaxed way. The train is so slow it takes more or less 4 hours to complete the loop. This train is used for everything you can imagine. You can find yourself surrounded by packs of rice, urban people with fancy haircuts and rural people that stare at you. Men would sell their chewing tobacco and women would sell small food bites. We tried almost everything that was offered to us. Ole and me were as two kids with new candy.

The chewing tobacco was one of the most disgusting things ever. I will try to explain what it is exactly, but for sure I don’t nail it as it was pretty complex. At first they roll two leaves that are rinced with a liquid that seemed as soap. After they insert some tobacco or something that looks alike. The next step would be to add a substance that seemed as marmalade, we both thought it was tamarind. Once the roll is finished you are meant to kind of chew it and your spit would suck in the taste. You are obliged to spit continuously. The locals do it all the time so why not us also! For us, it tasted 100% as cleaning product for the dishwasher or cleaning powder. The product they use make your spit turn into a red color. This makes it seem as if you were spitting blood. Then we knew the locals were not spitting blood or similar, they were chewing this strange “cigarette”. This train tour was the best way to get introduced to what Myanmar is.

Merel and I did not complete the loop as we had to go to the Philippines embassy to retrieve our passports with the extended visa. Seems unfortunate that we needed to hop down, but it was a blessing. We stopped in the northeast corner of the city. We were the only white people in the street. The houses were not at all as the city and small streets would make you get lost pretty easily. We walked for one or two hours and said hi to almost everybody we met on the way. We would get continuous smiles everywhere. You tend to forget about safety concerns in these countries, that is a big plus for Myanmar. You are 100% free to walk wherever you please. The people in this country are very nice towards us and we feel very welcome. Let’s keep on exploring the country!