Saturday morning in Yangon looked like this!
What makes the Burmese different from Vietnamese is the distinctive feature that glows over their cheeks. I was not aware of such distinctive feature through my reading, therefore I strolled the streets in Yangon with much curiosity. What do they wear on their face? Don’t they feel shy of wearing it?
The yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark is known as Thanaka. It has been commonly applied to the face and arms of women and girls and to a lesser extent men and boys. Thanaka cream is equivalent to Malaysian’s Bedak Sejuk also known as Cooling Rice Powder. Only that Malays wear Bedak Sejuk at night before sleeping and wash it away when they wake up.
We strolled down the street witnessing how Burmese people started their day. Most people were buying food for breakfast and chakoi was one of the favourite food. You would not miss the monks and nuns who collect alms from shop to shop. At one corner of the street just in front of an under-constrution temple, sat a woman selling a pot of wheat for pigeon feeding. As I was passing by, a novice nun – she wore pink uniform – bought a pot of wheat and threw them on the side for the pigeons to eat.
We went to the Tourism Centre to ask where to change our USD into Kyat legal way. After explaining to us how irrelevant and ridiculous the governing policy for money changing in Myammar is, she agreed to change USD100 with us at the rate of 8,200kyat. USD50 = 41,000kyat. Ever since our visit to the Tourism Centre, I had unsettled feeling about my dollars; although new and crisp, but had stapler marks on them.
Before we went back to our guesthouse to check-out, we bought our bus ticket to Kalaw at one of the travel agent near Mahabandoola Street. Bus ticket from Yangon to Kalaw costs 10,900Kyat. After checking-out, we had our first meal of the day at Nilar Biryani & Cold Drinks. It’s halal. Much to my disappointment, they don’t serve hot drinks here and I was somehow still phobia from the iced lassi I drank the night before.
In downtown Yangon, the main bus station for inter cities travel is Aung Minglabar Bus Station which is approximately 45 minutes-2 hours from downtown Myammar depending on traffic. With some tips from the locals, we carried our backpacks to wait with the crowd across the road from Shia’ Mosque. We were told to take Bus No. 43, which we took at 01.30pm.
We reached Aung Mingalabar Bus Station at 02.15pm. after many hesitations in asking the bus conductor we shall we stop. The bus ride for Bus No. 43 to Aung Mingalabar Bus Station is 300Kyat. Aung Mingalabar Bus Station is a huge station where you tend to get lost. Be minded with the scam and don’t be afraid to ask around.
The petrol in Myammar is as expensive as 3,900Kyat/liter, if converted into Malaysian Ringgit, about 16MYR/liter. At the point of writing, we are only paying for 1.89MYR/liter. The standard coffee/chai costs around 300Kyat. When I refer to chai, by all means, I refer to tea with milk. The normal tea is served free at the coffee shop.
We departed from Aung Mingalabar Bus Station at 4.00p.m. and reached our intended destination, Kalaw at 2a.m. the next day.