I have great love for Myanmar as I find the country is very much untouched and a lot of the cultural and heritage stuff are very much retained. On top of that, the burmese are very helpful and friendly. Hence, I traveled to this beautiful country slightly early than my gig with World Vision. Of which, I have 4 hours in Yangon and here is my itinerary of how I made use of that precious time that I have.
I took Silk Air to Yangon as the price difference for Jetstar and Silk Air was less than a hundred dollars. But I get 30kg check in baggage (not that I needed for the trip but more is better than less), inflight meal and desserts as well as unlimited supply of drinks (keeping myself hydrated is very important as the inflight air is very dry and bad for the skin, skip alcohol if you can).
At Yangon International Airport, there is a lane for Foreigners as well as Asean. I find that the foreigner lane works better as at my time of arrival, there are lesser foreigners.
The money changers can be found once you clear the immigration. Oh yes, remember to bring $100 dollar notes instead of $50 dollar notes and forget about smaller notes. Based on my experience, the local currency exchange fancy the bigger note more, the rates listed for SGD were based on $100 dollar notes. When I was there the exchange rate is $1112 kyat per $1 SGD for $100 and $1082 Kyat per $1 SGD for $50 notes.
Instead of going to Shwedagon Pagoda which will be super crowded in the evening, Naw decided to bring me to University of Yangon. This is the oldest and most famous university in Myanmar. Since 1920, many of the country’s best students have graduated from here. Formerly known as the University of Rangoon, this was also the centre of the anti-colonial movement 1920, 1936 and 1938 as well as the 8888 uprising, a protest against the military regime which more than 300 students died and many others were imprisoned. To prevent history from repeating, the existing institutions and departments were dispersed by the government into different learning institutions throughout the city.
Besides having to see a huge tree of more than 100 hundred year old and withstand World War 2, this is also very the place that Obama gave a speech at the auditorium in 2012.
19th street is essentially the China Town in Yangon. Having to miss this place during my first trip, we have decided to come here for dinner. This is the place where one can see a lot of bars and barbecues and where the night comes alive.
While I was walking along the 19th Street, I stumbled upon this chinese style cafe, Chinatown Cafe 125, at upper block between Maha Bandula and Anawrahta road.
Without looking at the time,, I hopped into the cafe and ordered a cuppa when I saw the espresso machine from the outside. This 2 levels cafe is a quaint little space that served food and coffee. The staff were also very nice. When I returned to the cafe on the last day of my Myanmar trip with the World Vision group, everyone loved the deco.
The takeaway cup was also very “chinese” with the chinese ancient crockery print. While the cup was instagram worthy, the coffee was easy to drink. From the feedback of the WV group, the mala dumpling was highly recommended. Do keep a lookout, the next time you are here!
Chinatown Cafe 125
125, 19th street, upper block between Maha Bandula and Anawrahta Rd, Latha Township 11 Yangon
Tel: +95 9 897 646338
Operation Hours 09:00 – 22:00
Walking down to Maha Bandula, at the corner of 18th street where MST, a shop that sells a good variety of tea/ bubble tea, we settled for dinner at the roadside bbq stall.
This is Naw’s favourite bbq stall in Chinatown. Unlike our local satay, the pork skewers were lightly marinated with salt and perfumed by the smokiness from the charcoal while the peanut sauce was sweeter and has a smoother texture. Naw has also ordered the pork stick roll for me to try. Made with basil and minced pork, the pork stick roll was enveloped with a crispy golden crust. I like how juicy and flavoursome this dish was. All in all, we spend $7200 kyat (est. $7 SGD) for the meal.
Oh yes, there are also tables and chairs provided along the roadside for you to enjoy your food. What I really like about this whole dining experience is everything was so casual. We have even bought some burmese salad ($1000 Kyat; est. $1 SGD) from the stall in front of MST and bubble tea from MST to go along with the food. Don’t forget to give the salad a try. The taste is similar to Thai salad but with corn, shredded carrot and cucumber. Don’t forget to add that salted egg for that extra umami!
So this is how I have spent my 4 hours in Yangon before heading to the Bus Terminal to take an overnight coach up to Mandalay. I will share more in my next post. Stay tuned.