04.12.2013 - 04.12.2013 32 °C
Up very late this morning, probably the first real sleep in I have had since departing Perth, but I think it was well overdue.
Today the family are heading to the Governor’s Residence (my most dreaded activity of the whole trip). This is essentially a expensive, albeit fancy and beautiful hotel, sigh. Apparently people go just to sit in the hotel and have coffee so they can say they saw it. Definitely Not My Thing!
Once we arrive, you can instantly tell, I do not belong somewhere like this on holiday. Underdressed, hair not done, sweat from walking around and experiencing the real Myanmar, so I decline coffee and take a walk around the streets. The location of the Belmond Governor’s Residence is in quite an affluent area of Yangon and is spattered with every embassy you can imagine.
Walking around the streets you get a different perspective on a way of life I had not yet seen in Myanmar. About a 10 minute walk I pass the International School Yangon (where I assume the children of embassy workers are educated. It was around midday and I could see the students leaving to head out for lunch.
I walk past one of the street vendors and hear people yelling at me. The teachers there also are on their break and strike up conversation as I walk past. I am invited to eat with them, which consisted of Rice and a tomato puree spiced sauce, was simple but quite delicious. The conversation revolved around, education in Australia, English Curriculum (which I was no help – English was always by worst subject at school), and how the new government is improving education in Myanmar with free schooling and university. The teachers there have some of the best English of anywhere we have been so far, and I must say I was quite touched to be asked to join for lunch. As their break ended they seemed genuinely surprised I stopped to talk to them. This is something I would suggest everyone try to do as it was a really education experience to hear about the emerging Myanmar from its educators.
After walking around for a short while longer, I meet up with the rest of the family and head back into the City centre for dinner and to track down the famous Burmese Balachaung (Dried Shrimp Paste) which has eluded us all trip. We head down to walk along 17th and 19th Street which is what can be best described as an eclectic mix of markets and artisans from every corner of Asia. After scouting out for around an hour, we find a lovely lady selling Balachaung and every other paste, spice, and nut under the sun. She is definitely the funniest local I have met. She lets us try nearly everything and makes fun of the faces I pull, when trying the spicy (hot) condiments – I stayed strong but required so much water afterwards.
This constituted dinner for me as the stomach was not feeling the best today. Walking around the markets late into the evening give new appreciation to electrician work in Myanmar as cables are perfectly hoisted about head height and the intricacy of the coils and cross overs provides beautifully lit street stalls.