I arrive in Yangon after two flights and head to baggage claim in a country I’m told has no ATMs and will only take crisp, new US dollars to be exchanged. However, upon arriving at baggage claim, I see two money changers AND an ATM. I decide to use it but somehow my math is so bad, I almost took out only $11. Thankfully a nice man nearby helped me figure out that 91,000 kyat = $100 so that’s what I took out. It felt super weird typing $90,000 into an ATM!
Then, thankfully my hotel had airport pickup so for the first time in a long time, someone was standing there with a sign with my name on it outside of customs. So I walk outside to get into the hotel car, and it is this almost station wagon looking car with little furry animals dotting the entire windshield. It certainly did not look like a hotel car.
But anyhow, I made it to the hotel, where I met up with Lacey, who I’m sharing a room with and traveling with in Myanmar. Lacey and I met on couchsurfing. She posted that she would be traveling through Myanmar the same dates as I was planning to go so I messaged her and I feel very lucky to have found her! My perception of her from our online communication and her profile was that she was normal and cool. I’m very glad I was on point with that assessment.
Anyhow, the two of us venture out for dinner. And this isn’t a city where there’s a touristy area. There are literally no white people anywhere. Whenever we walk by people, they stare. (By the way, Lacey is a 5’9″ blonde). So we stumble upon a street market where butchers are cutting up huge slabs of meat and there are fruit and vegetable sellers, as well as tons of little stalls with miniature plastic chairs and people eating dinner. We stop to linger at one and these ladies ask if we want to eat. We say yes and they make space for us.
On the walk over Lacey and I had discussed street food. We both said we are okay with it, and I said my one caveat is I don’t love when people have their bare hands all over my food but anything cooked is generally fine.
Well, we sit down and the lady holds up two fingers. We nod yes, we both want to eat. Lacey is a vegetarian for the record. But thankfully she’s flexible because we have no ability to communicate with anyone as to what we are getting to eat.
The woman grabs a handful of noodles and then after tossing in a number of other ingredients, she starts mixing the noodles up with her bare hands ALL over them. Then hands us the bowls. So cold food that someone’s hands were all over! All I can think is that my mom would die.
But Lacey and I enjoy our dinner, which cost about 60 cents each. And thankfully no food poisoning yet.
Post script: we ate street food again the next night for dinner and loved it!