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Magical Myanmar

Magical Myanmar

This is post three of a four post series about my recent Mommy Walk About to Myanmar. A Momma Abroad's focus is on cultivating positivity while living abroad, specifically in the Philippines, however with these few posts I share more personal matters about motherhood and travels outside of the Philippines. Regular programming will resume on Saturday. Kita kits!


Myanmar is a magical place. The people, food, culture and landscape are all worthy of exploration. During my six day Mommy Walk About I was enchanted by the songs of the street vendors, greatly moved by the social enterprises and mesmerized by the common occurrence of Monks.  

We spent a total of four days in Yangon and two days in Bagan. I have dedicated a whole post to Bagan, watch for it tomorrow. I was fortunate enough to have two contacts who have spent significant time in Yangon and gave me invaluable insight and tips to getting the most out of our time. Thank you to Stephanie who wrote up a six page document detailing basic Burmese, simple cultural lessons, places to dine and sights to see. My trip was phenomenal because of you. Salamat po to Celine who orchestrated so much of the logistics of our trip and even lended her personal luggage and packed it for me. Yes, she is really that good of a friend. 

Myanmar is a place for the senses to be aroused. The food was fragrant. The sites were alluring, even sometimes beautifully sad and dirty. The people, friendly. The modes of transportation, exhilarating. Here are some magical moments, places and faces from the trip. A perfect place for a wandering mom, free of children. 

MONKS|

Myanmar is the land of monks and meditation. The robed individuals were common place, and because this is so unusual from my lived experience I was captivated. I happened to start reading a few books on mindfulness and meditation months in advance to our trip so it was beautiful to see some of the methods in practice. The reason why I am sharing this is because I had actually put so much stress on this trip to improve my mental health; I took a vow of silence, read 3 books, plus all the other silly expectations that weighed heavily on my mind. A few days into the trip I had an ah-ha moment that I should stop with the expectations and just enjoy being there, in the moment. The irony of mindfulness and the power of now is not lost on me. So, thank you Myanmar for teaching me beautiful lessons both during my time in your country and for what I imagine will also be years to come. 

MONK

A kind face at Shedagon Pagoda

Monks + Shwedagon

Vibrant colors of female monk robes pop at Tooth Relic Pagoda. Photo care of Marie Peralta

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A large gathering of monks partake of their first meal in many hours at a local Yangon monastery. Photo care of Marie Peralta

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It is common place to revere monks and grant requests for money and food. 

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Monks are everywhere, even markets. 

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The road less traveled by foot, Monk on foot in Bagan

NAGAR GLASS FACTORY YANGON|

Nagar Glass Factory really is a treasure trove and a walk down memory lane. We were fortunate enough to visit on a day when the original owner was there and we heard the story in his own words. U THein Zavy's father first started the glass factory in 1952. He brought glass blowers in from Thailand to make medicine bottles and machines, then grew the business to include home decor as well. The family never learned the trade as the Thai craftsmen were very private about the skills, afraid they might lose their jobs, they kept the practice a secret. When Thein was a young teenager he began teaching himself to blow glass and then trained a team of staff members. The glass factory was successful until gas prices rose over the decades and eventually a horrible typhoon obliterated the space in 2008. Now the family survives on selling shards to treasure hunters who visit the property. There is no price for a tour, encouraging tips are welcome. You may call in advance at (95) 09254378706.

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U Thein Zavy cheerfully explains the history of a stemless wine glass, crafted at his families glass factory, Nagar Glass Factory in Yangon Myanmar.

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Shards of the past

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A hand crafted chess set

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A path lined with history

SOCIAL ENTERPRISES: CHUCHU, POMELO FOR MYANMAR & HLE DAY|

I am a sucker for handicrafts and Myanmar excels in this department. Couple it with a social enterprise to better women and families, I am an easy sell. On the flight over, Jet Star's inflight magazine featured a short article on how to visit one of Myanmar's up and coming social enterprises, ChuChu. It was just a short taxi ride, ferry ride and then bike ride from my hotel. I consider it extreme fortune on my part to have read this article en route to the country; it was a highlight of the trip. 

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Each vendor has their own call. The chant is loud and together, they create a chorus of Myanmar.

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ChuChu is located across the Yangon river in Dala and is constructed of recycled materials. The facade of the home is made from soda bottles! The recycled bottles are packed in cement and used to make reinforced walls. Inside ChuChu you will find vibrant sewn handicrafts all made from recycled plastics and sewn right in ChuChu! It is definitely worth a visit if you have any interest in social enterprises. If you don't have time to visit but still want to support and buy the bright products, visit Hle Day and Pomelo for Myanmar. You can contact ChuChu at (95) 792582795 and chuchurecycle@gmail.com.

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POMELO FOR MYANMAR

OMG. Take all my money. if there was a store that searched my soul to find happiness and then created a space using those elements it would be this store. 

Pomelo for Myanmar is not located far from the ferry terminal, just a few minutes walk. I headed right over after my visit to ChuChu. The interiors were impeccable, the design captivating and the colors danced all over the store, never stopping! Beyond that, the store has a conscience for good. Posted around the store you will find plagues to educate about social enterprises and fair trade. It is truly a lovely space. In terms of pricing, Pomelo is quite a bit cheaper than Hla Day but also has a smaller selection. For more information please visit their website

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HLA DAY

means beautiful in burmese. what a perfect fit. 

Hla Day is also located close to the ferry near Pomelo and right next door to Rangoon Tea House! You must work up an appetite shopping and finish off at Rangoon Tea House. I snapped photos of Hla Day for house inspiration. I literally want to move into the space but since I can't do that, I will just have to recreate it. Myanmar really knows what they are doing in terms of marketing social enterprises. They have curated the most youthful and spirited products to showcase their culture and have tailored it into a perfect shopping experience. They also support livelihood projects and have them on display. With each purchase you receive a brief bio of the brand and makers of the product. For more information please visit their website

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SHWEDAGON PAGODA|

I was fortunate enough to spend a long afternoon at Shwedagon Pagoda. The pagodas in Myanmar really are remarkable and Shwedagon Pagoda is the grandest. Local Burmese people are very much developing their English language skills so you will find anxious tour guides and other new friends looking for ways to perfect their conversational skills. The hours spent at Shwedagon were without a tour guide because solitude is what I wanted from this afternoon. The singing prayers and watching the dedication of volunteer sweepers was humbling and enjoyable. You mustn't visit Yangon without seeing Shwedagon. 

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Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. 

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All shoes are removed before entering a pagoda or monastery. The pile and organizations of the shoes was impressive. 

YANGON CIRCULAR TRAIN|

Yangon Circular Train is a simple way to experience the daily life of locals. It seems reviews are quite polarized. I was not super on board at first as three hours on a non air conditioned train didn't sound riveting. If you lean towards my opinion, I am here to tell you we are wrong, the Circular Train is one of the best travel experiences I have had. Instead of feeling like a tourist, even if I very much looked and acted like one, I was immersed into real life. What is the point of travel if you don't get an un-tailored experience free of a tour guide? I love seeing a new way of life when traveling and the Circular Train is a very easy and cheap (13 USD) way to do just that. Catch the train at Yangon Central Station every 30 minutes. 

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Yangon Circular Train is a simple way to experience daily life of the locals. 

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Yangon Central Station

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Country Life

HTEWE OO MYANMAR PUPPET SHOW|

If you are a someone who enjoys peculiar situations and puppets, that makes two of us. Joke lang! I feel like I keep saying this about everything but Htewe Oo Myanmar Puppet Show is NOT to be missed! There are only 5 theaters left who still perform this ancient Burmese art. We were fortunate enough that timing allowed us this experience. Mr. Htewe started his career in puppeteering from a child and it is now a family business. The theater is actually inside the families living apartment but they transform it into a small theater for shows. You will see multiple Trip Advisor awards decorating the walls, Mr. Htewe and his team are great showmen! 

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Located in a dimly lit room in a tiny apartment in a compact neighborhood you will find some of the greatest showmen.  

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EATS|

Myanmar is all about the salads, milk tea and bittel nut. Since Myanmar has three dominant ethnic groups (Indian, Chinese and Burmese) the cuisine is diverse and exciting. We were warned frequently to not eat street food, which made me a little sad because much of it was very tempting. The food scene in Yangon is one of the cities greatest perks. 

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Betel Nut is the most common street snack and you can find it everywhere, including the red spit residue on the ground and walls all over the city. 

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Yangon has many popular Mohinga (local noodle dish) dives but 999 is one of the more famous ones and for good reason. The noodles were amazing but my mind can't stop thinking about the fried tofu. 

Rangoon Tea House really is deserving of a post of its own, but for now, this should tide you over. The feast below shows a pennywort salad, samosa and Burmese Tea Leaf salad. Burmese cuisine is all about the salads so don't skimp! You must order milk tea while at the tea house as well. In fact, you may need to order two, if I had no shame I would have ordered three. The ambiance of Rangoon Tea House cultivates the young entrepreneurs and food scene on the rise in Yangon. 

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BURMESE MILK TEA

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The fresh paratha was the hardest street food for me to pass up. I love paratha and this looked so legit!

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One dim sum, two dim sum, three sum, four! One morning we wondered into a popular Chinese eatery and were overwhelmed with the amount of choices. After some deliberation we took a few chances that ended up in our favor.

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Indo Alphonso Mango. It was as if a mango and an apricot had a baby. They were bite size and you could eat the peel. 

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CRUSHED AVOCADO STRAWBERRY SHAKE

SECRETARIAT, INYA LAKE & BOGYOKE MARKET|

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The Secretariat (Ministers Building) was the home and administrative seat of British Burma, in downtown Yangon, Burma and is the spot where Aung San and six cabinet ministers were assassinated.

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Inya Lake is an artificial lake created by the British as a water reservoir n order to provide a water supply to Yangon.The lake was formed by joining small hills that surrounded creeks which formed during the monsoon season. Inya Lake is best viewed from Sedona Hotel. We had a lovely stay here, you can read more about it here. 

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Chinese food on 19th Street was an experience. You pick out your meat and veggies while they grill the food right there for you. The most impressive display was the fruit street vendors who moved like waves as a car drove by. Baskets and carts would be removed and then immediately placed again as the car moved past. 

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BOGYOKE MARKET

the cleanest public market i have been to. you will find foods, handicrafts, gems and fabrics galore at boygoke. 

BAGAN|

Bagan was a dream come true. Watching the sunrise with hot air balloons floating over ancient temples was pretty amazing. You can read a full post about Bagan tomorrow. 

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Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar.

From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar

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Hot Air Balloon Over Bagan

I wish we had the technology so I could really give all your senses a feast, but for now photographs will have to do. Myanmar really was a feast for the senses and a fantastic place for a Mommy Walk About. 

Kita kits,

Amber 

 

 

 

A Dream Come True, Bagan Myanmar

A Dream Come True, Bagan Myanmar

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