Our first impression of Myanmar
The alarm painfully rang out. We dragged ourselves out of bed, gathered our things, made our way downstairs, and waited for our mini van to Don Muang airport. It seems the mini van had an accident, so we were escorted to a taxi instead. Arriving at the airport, we checked in, made our way to gate 4, and sat patiently until we heard our row called to board the aircraft.
We were both excited about Myanmar, asking each other what we think it’s going to be like, and wondering what kinds of challenges we might face. We didn’t have much time to converse as the flight was only an hour and twenty minutes long.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, and fasten your seat belts, we are beginning our descent into Mandalay.” The pilot said with calm and confidence.
We were up, and then back down again before we knew it.
Once the plane came to a complete stop, and it was safe to unfasten our seat belts (a request no one ever listens to) we shuffled into the long line of people all anxious to deplane.
Stepping up to the immigration officer was slightly intimidating. He was stern, and very serious. But once Cody smiled for the camera, a smile escaped from the officers face, and a few other officers gathered around to check out Cody’s Egyptian tattoos. They nodded, and smiled at me with approval. With no questions asked, and our passports kissed with a brand new Myanmar stamp, we were off.
Cody and I didn’t check in any bags, so we walked directly to the pre-paid taxi stand. “Taxi Sir!“, “hello taxi!“, “Sir taxi!” was what we were greeted with as soon as we were in several young men’s line of sight.
We paid $10 (pristine U.S. dollars are accepted country wide) for a shared taxi into the city.
We left the building, and hit a wall of warm, humid air. The air in the taxi was equally as stuffy.
An hour later, we arrived at Fortune Hotel. Check in was the usual handing in our passports to be copied, and signing a form. A young boy escorted us to our room and we were left to relax.
“Want to go for a walk?” I asked. “Sure” replied Cody. We stepped out into a brand new city. Dusty, loud, busy, and full of life. We only had to walk 100 steps before we came upon a carnival. Kids getting dizzy on merry go rounds, people setting up a stage, blaring music, a live band, and street food all around.
We were definitely out of place, but didn’t feel that way. The wide eyed stares always ended with big smiles, and curiosity. Everywhere we turned, people nodded with amusement.
Myanmar has just recently opened up to tourism, and before we made our decision to travel here, we read up on the country, and spoke with people who have chosen to boycott it. We chose the opposite. We chose to witness for ourselves. We decided it was important for us to visit a country that many people know nothing about. Some haven’t even heard of Myanmar.
To make even the smallest connection is a good thing. And big smiles are always a great start.
So far, so good.