Since Myanmar opened up to foreign investment in 2011, it becomes one of the promising emerging market to the rest of the world. More and more foreigners and expats move to Myanmar for new opportunity. I visited Yangon on last September and it cleared my curiosity towards this mysterious neighbor country.
Even though both Malaysia and Myanmar are members of ASEAN, but Malaysian need visa to to visit the country. Nevertheless the visa application is very convenient, I applied e-visa through internet, paid USD$50 and received single entry visa through email within few working days. Foreigner are only allowed to enter through Yangon International airport, so take note of this when buying flight ticket. There are quite number of flights from Singapore, Malaysia to Yangon with price range from SGD$180 ~ 280. The direct flight will take around 3 to 4 hours which is not too long.
Currency in Myanmar is Kyat, approximately 1300Kyat equivalent to 1 USD, quite similar to Korean won in the sense of unit in thousand. Cost of living in Yangon is surprisingly high but taxi fee are relatively cheap. Since there is no governance of using taxi meter and due to language barrier, it is difficult for foreigner to simply get a cab at roadside. However there is called taxi service as an alternative solution to get around the city.
People are very sincere Buddhist, you can witness their passion towards the religion through their famous pagodas. There are 2 famous pagoda in the city. One of them and the biggest is Shwedagon Pagoda. The whole body of pagoda are covered with gold plate and is believed to contain relics of previous Buddhas. The pagoda itself was impressive because of its scale, elements in the architecture. It is advised to visit on early morning before noon or in the evening as it can get very hot since it is not shaded. There were always crowd of people in the pagoda, praying and hanging around. Usually locals wear their traditional attire to visit the pagoda. It is truly a great experience to get myself closed to the locals customs and life.
The next pagoda is Sule Pagoda, located at the heart of Yangon downtown and a focal point of the city which you can find in the promotion poster.
There is a beautiful recreation park with lake in the city – Kandawgyi Lake. There were some trendy cafes in the park and the iconic restaurant boat – The Karaweik on the lake. I think it will be people’s favourite park if government spend some efforts to maintain and beautify it.
Myanmar has multi racial culture influence with mixture of Burmese, India and Chinese. I found the food in Myanmar is interesting as it is very similar to Malaysia with variety of food from Malays, Chinese and India ethnic, yet it is not completely the same in the aspect of taste and also its cultural value. Though Burmese food are formed from different ethnic but they were often served together. I felt the beautifulness in their harmonious interchange or perhaps integration of different culture through their food which is something lack of in Malaysia.
I like the local Burmese restaurant – Feel Myanmar Food. It is the famous local Burmese restaurant with 100 choices of food and it was always crowded. I was quite puzzled when I first went into the shop. There are cakes (similar to “kuih-muih” in Malaysia) stall in front, and mix rice kind of serving inside the shop and people were drinking Chinese-alike tea. So I thought it is kind of a dim-sum restaurant but also serve kuih-muih, dishes, fried rice, fried mee, all kind of stuff under one roof. I ordered the national Burmese dish – mohinga and egg salad.
There are some number of Shan ethnic restaurants in Yangon and the food was delicious! The first meal I had after arriving is the Beef salad noodle and Beef soup noodle with awesome beef balls! I also had fine dinning in Shan restaurant, ordered a vegetable soup, sticky rice with bamboo leaf, fried tofu and a bowl of chicken.