Wednesday, January 8, 2020


I arrived in Myanmar on January 4th, Myanmar Independence Day from British rule in 1948. My free airport pickup was there with my sign and I checked into the Ocean Pearl Hotel at 8:00 PM. Any place with a reference to a 5440 song I am staying there. My single room including breakfast was $12 a night. It is on a busy street with lots of shops and vendors but my room was quiet at night, an excellent bonus. This is a busy place with many Chinese and Italian guests which is such an eclectic mixture. Checking was a breeze and I dropped off my back and headed out into the Independence Day night. A new country means different money, accents, foods sights, and smells. The smelly streets like Dhaka do not exist here and I don't blend in so I better do some laundry soon.

I entered the street and first came upon what looked like a kids beauty contest/fashion show just outside the hotel. Little kids all dressed up strutting their stuff when called up. These young kids were obviously imitating what they see adults do or whatever YouTube access they have. The girls were 5 to 9 years old, maybe. They wore lots of makeup, tight fitting dresses, high heels and were "catwalk strutting". It was to much for me and borderline creepy. No, I did not take pictures! 🙊🙉🙈

A nice take off click leaving Colombo
Head to the lights to find the Ocean Pearl Hotel
The weird things we make kids do
The weird things we make kids do

I wanted to see the Sule Pagoda at night so that was now my mission. I heard loud music and like a good travel zombie I headed towards it. A nice surprise as an Independence Day celebration was in full swing. There was various dancing groups, singing and loud distorted music. I did not understand anything anyone was saying or singing but it was great spectacle. There were food vendors and I dug into a huge bag of boiled peanuts, they were crap. I did find a juice vendor and sipped on a huge banana and avocado smoothie and watched the shows for about an hour. As I sat I was greeted with shy smiles all around me. I already liked the feel of Yangon. Even the busy side streets did not have the sleazy Bangkok feel.

I did eat a bunch of deep fried things from this guy. I think some were chicken and some were vegetable. He was busy so the food was fresh and I had not concerns about getting sick. That being said I never have any concerns about eating street food and getting sick, although it has happened. Whatever, dig in. You can get sick from a Fast Food chain just as easily.

There were so many cool little things I wanted to buy. This is the case where ever I go but I don't usually buy anything because it becomes a nightmare to lug around with me. Normally I will pick up something cool from the last place I visit. I would like to buy gifts for so many people who have been supportive of me on this journey. Maybe I will start a new trend in 2020, which contradicts everything I just said. Hey look, a shiny thing!!

I have no expectations about Myanmar. To that point, I am trying to learn to temper all my expectations, keeping things realistic. I do not know anyone who has traveled here so I received no tips. Keep in mind that this is an interesting place politically. As an "Authoritarian Regime" it is controlled by a Junta, a military or political group that rules a country after taking power by force --
There was an attempt at opening to tourism in 1992 however, it was only in 1996, with the launch of the “Visit Myanmar Year 1996” that the junta officially opened the doors to tourists. I have learned to keep my politics out of my travels. Given the chance I would go to North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, East Timor or where ever our governments tell us not to go. No country is saintly, well maybe Iceland.

Infrastructure in Myanmar is getting better and marketing and promotion of the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Myanmar is not in full swing. The word is getting out and tourism is growing rapidly. There is a constant comparison to Thailand and how Myanmar is less expensive, beautiful and culturally rewarding. There is no criticizing Thailand but a concerted effort to show Myanmar as a new alternative. This great series of videos from EatSleepYangon on Youtube is where you should start. Quirky and fun to watch with incredible insights into Yangon. I have jotted down quite a few of the places they mention and tips for exploring the downtown area.

Off I go..

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