When it comes to food, being a vegetarian and traveling in APAC is sometimes very challenging! I am a typical south Indian foodie, my taste buds always long for tangy and spicy food! Even on a peak hunger day just a simple curd rice and pickle will do the magic! My first visit to this beautiful city Yangoon , is when I really missed South Indian Food and really longed for spicy food 🙂 !! It’s a long fly from Bangalore – Bangkok – Yangoon, with no proper appealing food in the flight, long waiting period, tiring journey and a toughest meeting the next day! With those mixed mood, I landed in Yangon! It’s a simple small town, for the first impression not very flashy, small buildings, but I didn’t miss to notice the orderly traffic!
I dragged myself to a very small hotel room, and still didn’t find anything interesting to eat! We met our local business partners, and thanks to them they took us to a lovely Indian restaurant! If you are an Indian vegetarian and visiting Myanmar the magical key word you would want to remember is ” thet thet loot“ ( meaning vegetarian or vegan) ! Now that I got the Buzz word, every time I kept telling the local restaurant waiters “thet thet loot”. And they were very happy to serve me lentil soup and rice every time 🙂
Speaking about the local people, they were extremely polite cordial, and guileless!! One cab driver paid me back the kyats since he did not take the shortest route to reach my destination! I didn’t have any clue about the route anyways!! Another interesting incident happened when my colleague checked out of the room. She thought she left about 200 kyat as tip for the room service girl! That’s quite normal in that currency. But she realized she paid 200 US dollars instead of 200 kyat only after reaching the airport. And well in country like Myanmar we are very rich with just 50 dollars! That’s a hell lot of money when converted to kyat! Obviously with lot of panic, she called a colleague who was staying back to check. Guess what? She got the 200 US dollars back. In the meantime we were building stories of she would have eloped by now , must be having the best vacation somewhere! Nope nothing happened! The locals are so innocent and polite!
Burmese are wonderful people and love to use sandal on their faces for the weather condition. Their traditional wear is nothing but a very comfortable “longyi” worn by women as well. For Burmese men, it is considered as traditional formal. But it is a little odd to see men wearing colorful longyi with a tucked in full sleeves shirt and carrying a laptop bag.😳
I have heard stories from my grand mom , that some of her relatives have been to Burma for work and they all made it good. They came back with good money and mainly Burma teak-wood. Their houses had elaborate and intricate woodwork imported from there and families still cherish those things very much. That’s when the culture exchange must have taken place. The lungi culture was very famous in Tamil Nadu, before Bermudas / shorts took over !! 🙂 Burmese way of worship, though their religion is Buddhism, has a lot of similarities with Tamil Hindu way of worship! Offerings to God, naming the god as 9 Grahas etc are very similar! And the praying posture too …
A person in Myanmar should not miss visiting Shwegadon Pagoda ! Yangoon is city of pagodas everywhere. But this particular one is really huge, and the main structure is made out of gold! It beautifully shimmers at night! That’s a sight not to be missed. Jade and teak are both very famous and you can see sculptures of Buddha in different poses in these materials! It was too good 🙂 one peaceful evening in pagoda walking around the place and clicking pictures is definitely worth the long flight and unappealing food.
Well after three days of my Yangoon life I returned back home, and have paid few more visits there. And of course now i know what to order when i go to a restaurant , tea leaf salad 🙂 !! But the first trip and the beautiful memories still remains fresh. And the lesson on honesty learnt from that cab driver and housekeeping woman will remain throughout my life!!!!