Posts Tagged ‘Food’

I had seriously never ever thought of going to Istanbul.  And I learnt that Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey only after receiving the ticket. What a shame!

So, it started with so called Europe’s best Turkish Airline. (I will save it for next post.) Istanbul airport was okay. I do not usually feel cold in air plane so I did not wear anything apart from a t-shirt. Once I got out of the plane, I was like “Crap, that is cold, man!” Grabbing the jacket out immediately, I walked super quit with the hope that I would feel warm faster if I could leave the airport sooner which actually made no sense.

First day

The immigration officer seemed shocked to learn a Myanmar visits his country. He browsed through my passport. (I was not sure what he would think about my visa which I obtained 15 hours before departure. (Procrastination level 9!).  I looked for a man with “MIT” sign and greeted him. He told me to spend some time at coffee shop as we would need to wait one more who was arriving in a short while. I had exchanged some dollars before wasting some time by setting new highscore in Temple Run 2. After the girl arrived, we headed to hotel.

Istanbul Airport

Vodafone made me think the good old days of being a ManU fan.

Once the bus started its journey, my first feeling was “Oh, that is real Europe”. A westerner might not be able to feel it, but as a very Asian, the sceneries full of trees without a single leave, the whitish look and those buildings, that was too different from an average Asia country and that awesome/awful feeling of coldness could make me feel as if I was in a movie or pictorial book.

Istanbul

That’s already so Europe for me.

Long story short (thank god I feel like shortening it now!),  on the arrival day, before we went to AyaSofya – an orthodox church >> mosque >> museum, we had spent some minutes at a mini cafe of a small hotel. I tried Turkish coffee which was not as delicious as seeing the place it originated.

Turkish Coffee

That was not from that hotel. But I would say almost exact same thing.

Then, we continued our walk to AyaSofya. I mean, even for a Buddhist, that HUGE building with mixed culture definitely displayed its awesomeness. I kept murmuring “That’s great! That’s awesome!” to myself. Here you read thousands more words.

Near AyaSofya

Near AyaSofya.

AyaSofya

I felt like I was small by watching the ceiling.

AyaSofya

I didn’t quite know what those represented. But just shooting around.

AyaSofya

Watch it carefully. It will start rotate. (Nah! this is not such cheap sharing on Facebook and it will not rotate although it is in beautiful circular shape.)

AyaSofya

A hint showing it had been a church.

AyaSofya

Le cat!

Despite the grandeur inside, I preferred the way we see it from outside. That whitish buildings which I would never forget was so appealing that I never stopped taking pictures. I even wished like I could move there to reside for a short while. 🙂

We walked back to the hotel. I had had a quick nap and washed my hair first time during travel. I do not usually feel like washing my hair during short trip but the organic soap at the hotel looked attractive to try so I just did it. I knew that I had not brought enough warm clothes and felt the cold like hell walking to AyaSofya so I just wore like four layer of clothes when we went out for dinner. The Seabass at the dinner was yummy and I just realized that many people more than I think love Roti or flat bread. In Nairobi, in Istanbul, in Singapore or in Myanmar, it is everywhere.

Istanbul flat bread

This actually was from day 2 dinner.

That night, I felt the effect of different time zone yet had a good sleep with the feeling Istanbul was awesome!

[To be continued.]

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I’ve somehow stumbled upon this and her 8 years of blogging life inspired me to blog right now. I have no idea why I rarely blog here though I assume myself as a blog-addictive since I have a Burmese blog with tons of posts which is now under silence. And I have been writing here, here and here regularly and here and here occasionally so it’s kind of difficult to find time to polish my very own space. Anyway, I’m now back (supposedly).

I’ll be back in Myanmar at the end of December and have read a lot of foreigners who are rushing to my mystical land either for fun or investment. Some travel blogs written about the country in headliners nowadays seem great while others are like with less useful information from a local point of view. So here’s a list of things I’m planning to do during two week vacations and you (if you ain’t a Myanmar) might get an idea how a typical Myanmar based in foreign country would rush to fulfill his/her one year dream.

Food!

I’m not that into Food and pretty picky as I have lachanophobia. But yah… Yangon is just a food paradise for me and I don’t understand how they say Singapore has perfect food. 😛

I’ll have dinner at least twice (most probably thrice) at YKKO for perfect Kyay Oh in Yangon. (Not every Myanmar will agree, I know.) The best thing about YKKO is not its taste but the environment which gives me a sense of reunion with friends. I will be able to check-in, too!

And I must sit down on a stool in front of a pork-stick (Wet Thar Dote Htoe) basket to enjoy super awesome pork sticks. I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I should try it at downtown or somewhere else. It will much depend on my friends.

I do not like Monthinga. And I mean it though it might sound weird considering I’m a Myanmar. (Told ya I’m picky). But I will go for Rakhine Mont Ti (nothing about racist here, please! Just that that soup originated in Rakhine state). It is with similar kind of vermicelli in Monthiga but the soup is totally different. It’s a clear soup but super hot and spicy.

Then, I will throw a food party at Chinatown. Kidding… but not much difference. Steamed pork (Wet Thar Paung) at that tea house, Spring roll with pork (I sound so pork, huh?), Bao zi (with pork #_#), Fried pork :O ribs and Shan Noodle (with pork). After all, it’s Chinatown, absolutely valid excuse of pork!

I guess I don’t need to mention that my mom will cook delicious meals at home, too. So, that’s about it for food. I still want to try some unique things but most of them are not available in December.

Places

I’m dying to go to Kyite Htee Yoe Pagoda(Golden Rock Pagoda) in Mon state but my super awesome friends do not seem to support me. I just want to enjoy the coldest place possible in lower Myanmar (in December.) I have been there like three times, though.

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

I may go to Pyay (pronounced as Pyi). No specific plan yet. I just don’t remember how it exactly looks like since I was too young when I visited there like 5 ~ 10 years ago.

In Yangon, I want to go to Y.U.F.L which is my university but I’m not too sure will they easily let me in or not. (I’ll write about the unbelievable uni life in Myanmar later. ) But as they said things changed in Myanmar, it should also be changed!

What else? Some of my friends’ homes, downtown, Shwedagon is needless to be mentioned, oh yeah.. I want to go to those pubs that become famous lately though I don’t drink (okay, let’s put it this way) I have not drunk a drop of alcohol. But I do like the atmosphere of a pub/bar. And perhaps I might be somewhere fun at new year night unless my dad insisted me to stay at home.

Do

I will take lots of photos just like last year. I do not own a DSLR so the quality of those awesome (if I say awesome, it’s awesome) images might be under par. The two main reasons I want to have a ton of photos of my own are 1) to donate to Open Myanmar photo project and use on my About Myanmar blog. It’s so fun when you use your own photos to share something. Umm.. no, I don’t really know how to take a picture well, I just emphasize on things rather than presentation (coz I don’t know!)

And will try to meet up with as many friends as possible. My best of best friend will be getting married in Mid Dec so I will give her something lovely.

I guess I will have a chance to meet up with some nice people whom I happen to know only in virtual world of social media but friendship are strong enough just like with normal friends.

Oh yes, I will read many journals just to point out the mistakes. (I’m awfully good at it especially when it comes to Burmese language.) And will try to be a witness if there are any visible changes there in one year after several western political leaders have visited. (I’ll just stop politics here).

Oh, it’s fun just to write it out. I can’t wait!!

[This is a backdated post.]

Part 1 (School)

It is not difficult to believe that majority of Myanmar people love Myanmar food but it would be kind of weird (actually it’s cool for me) that they prefer Chinese / Indian food in Myanmar rather than those in their original style and preparation. Very few Myanmar would prefer real Indian Briyani over those oily Briyani in Myanmar. Like wise, any kind of Chinese food in Singapore has almost no taste at all for us. (Patroit?)

Dim Sum

So, a must eat in Myanmar for me was Dim Sum. I know right, it might be unbelievable for most of the Singaporeans that we prefer Dim Sum in Myanmar. It is not only about price but also about taste and culture. I went to Oriental House Dim Sum, the only famous Dim Sum restaurant in Myanmar.  (It has branches in Singapore but none of those provide Dim Sum, unfortunately. :{ )

Okay, so I went there to have Dim Sum. In fact, it was more to hang out with my university friends. One more valid reason to go there was it was very close to Shwedagon Pagoda. Our family had used to have breakfast there whenever we visited the pagoda in some early mornings. For this very visit, both of my lovely (just in case they might read this) friends paid for me and my boyfriend. ^^ It was around 500 kyats (est. 4 USD) per basket (basket?) and I guess we finished about 30 baskets.

Isn't it lovely just by seeing this???

Isn’t it lovely just by seeing this???

Indian Snacks

Then, I joined my mom and her mother-in-law (yes, of course my grandma!) at a township tea house. They specialized in Indian snacks. Do I need to say it again that Indian food is better in Myanmar?

I sampled Samosa (we pronounce it as Samusa), Ba Yar Kyaw (fried mashed pea) and Nan Pyar (kind of Roti) which were completely match with Myanmar style tea with Malaing. It was delicious but I had to control my limit as I would have a long long long list to go on during that two week period.

Clockwise - Samosa, Ba Yar Kyaw, Tea with Malaing, Nan Pyar

Clockwise – Samosa, Ba Yar Kyaw, Tea with Malaing, Nan Pyar

Chinese Snacks

Don’t every ask me why I am not writing about Burmese food, Shan food etc. which belong to Myanmar food. Because it’s too mainstream! You can easily google it. And I just somehow prove that Myanmar can also be kind of food paradise if you know where to look for. That does NOT mean that there is no “unique” traditional food in Myanmar. You can’t really remember all.

Okay, so I went to my most most most favourite tea house. It was near Chinatown. Believe me, Chinatown in Myanmar is way more awesome than that in Singapore. (Or perhaps, I am the one who don’t know what and how to look for interesting thing in Singapore Chinatown!)

The most irresistible food that I had made up my mind to learn how to make it one day is called “Wet Thar Paung” which can lit-translated into “Steamed Pork” but it comes with a thin dumpling sheet. It’s sweet. It’s piquant. It has good smell. It’s just irresistible!

Too much intro. It’s time to explain what I did with those. I finished all 3 pieces of those Wet Thar Paung at one shot! Plus, I could input   to my poor stomach with long awaiting Kaw Pyant (Spring Roll).  Please don’t be confused. Normal spring roll in Myanmar is very similar with popiah in Singapore and you can find anywhere in Myanmar. But this very roll I tried was made up of pork with thicker dumpling kind of sheet (Remember I have lachanophobia!) and you can find only in very few tea houses. The inner part was too delicate it was always good to have with spicy sauce. If you wish to have one, try go there. Its name is “Hlyan Htet”, situated at lower block of Latha St. in Yangon and definitely not a tourist spot. It may look unhygienic but I have had no problem eating out there for uncountable times.

Wet Thar Paung (Steamed Pork) and Kaw Pyant (Meat Spring Roll). I did have another cup of tea there, too.

Wet Thar Paung (Steamed Pork) and Kaw Pyant (Meat Spring Roll). I did have another cup of tea there, too.

Kyay Oh

It’s the most special food and I mean it. Kyay Oh still kind of Chinese food but I can’t find it anywhere in Singapore with that much delicious meet balls.

The arguably most famous Kyay Oh restaurant is YKKO. Almost all YKKO branches are cozy, family-friendly and wifi-available. What more you could ask for?

If I were super hungry, I might be able to finish at least one and a half bowl of Kyay Oh but I left some soup after I finished all flat noodles (people usually have it with vermicelli like noodle called “Kyar San”) and meat balls. It was costly – around 2800 kyats (est. 3.5 USD) but it was worth to try as usual!

It looks so pale because I opted not to add the veggies.

It looked so pale because I opted not to add the veggies.

So, it’s all about derived food in Myanmar that I enjoyed during my vacation. Next, part 3 will be about Randomness in Yangon.

[This is a backdated post.]

Besides witnessing the bronze medal, we found time to do a quick tour around Jakarta. Needless to mention Indonesia is the biggest among SEAsian countries, Jakarta is really a huge city and so as its traffic jam. Although it seemed as if the city was moving in a fast pace, the atmosphere was sort of sparkling. Perhaps because we were very energetic during that four day trip.

Petrol Shop Jakarta Indonesia

A little stall of petrol, I guess. Almost exact same thing with those in Myanmar.

If there was one thing that I would always recall whenever Jakarta appeared in my mind, it would be taxi. I have taken taxi with and without meters. In Yangon, nobody would use meter although they might have installed it. In Singapore, everybody has to use it. But in Jakarta, some were using meter some were not. Confusion level 9.

Tok Tok in Jakarta Indonesia

Isn’t this three-wheeled car cute? (I know it’s widely known as Tok Tok but it’s so Thai and I feel like each SEAsian country may have its own name to call it. It’s /thoun: bein:/ in Burmese. So, let’s settle with three-wheeled car!)

During those few days, we were educated – to examine which taxi belonged to which company, which coloured taxi would use meters, what to do if driver would not prefer to use meter and many more. But I suppose it would be too pity not to be scammed at least once in Jakarta.

We went into a taxi after settling with driver that he would use the meter. It was night and we had no idea where we were exactly. It took more than 40 minutes to reach our hotel. During the drive, the driver seemed to pretend as if he did not know the route. And we were not aware that we were scammed until next afternoon where we had another taxi to go to same place and it took like less than 15 minutes with traffic. That night had no heavy traffic. The delightful thing was that taxi fares were cheap and taxi drivers were not rude at all although we talked like chicken and duck. It made me sympathize about few tourists visiting Myanmar. (C’mon, which country in the world does not have anyone who would cheat at foreign visitors although number of cases can differ greatly?) And it made me think whether I would like to be cheated politely or be treated rudely with exact fares. That was hard.

Let’s tune into food. Well, food in Jakarta might not be too awesome or too “posh”. But I felt the warmth. One evening, we walked into a small Chinese restaurant around Karet Pedurenan Street on which our hotel Avissa Suites existed. (You would find the reason we chose “Chinese restaurant” in next paragraph.) They were watching a football match of Indonesia in SEAGames at that period, I do not remember if it was a delayed or live broadcasting. But they were so friendly that we were able to be a little bit picky about sauce we wanted on the choice of grilled fished. It was in deed yummy and affordable. I remember it costed not more than 5,000 kyats. (Most of Myanmar have a habit calculating price in Myanmar currency. 😛 5,000 kyats is equivalent to about 5~6 USD.) You cannot have the same thing with same taste at the same price in Singapore.

Grilled Fish Food Jakarta Indonesia

Awesomely yummy grilled fish with my ultimate favourite Sambal sauce!

There was a fun moment about food. I am a HUGE fan of Ayam Penyet (Indonesian smashed fried chicken with traditional chili sauce called Sambal) so it was a must for me to try authentic one right there in Indonesia. We found a very small home shop near the hotel so we marched there. Only after we sat down, we realized that none of us spoke Bahasa Indonesian and none of them from shop seemed to speak English. What made the case worse was no English menu. Boom! It seemed that a fraction of luck was with us, one of us spoke some Bahasa Malaysian but it was still pretty challenging to communicate. We ordered water, they brought glass. We asked for spoon and fork, they brought the little basket of chopsticks. 😛 Finally, we made it through and I had best Ayam Penyet in my entire life. I do not want to call those from Singapore Ayam Penyet as the taste in Jakarta was purely authentic. And yes, that was the reason that made us hesitant to go into another Indonesian restaurant.

Monas Jakarta Indonesia Crafted Wall

No clue what this wall is about. But this man resembled a lot to a Myanmar King from Bagan Dynasty!

In terms of places, I felt like Jakarta did not have many tourist spots or icon places to go. We googled it, asked some hotel staffs and finally went to Monas (Monument Nasional <–> National Monument). It was hot, horribly hot especially when we had to stand for long period to queue up to go to top of the monument. And guess what made me feel so weird. Many of Indonesians (not many foreigners there, seemed like a famous relaxation area for locals.) wore the jackets, sweaters, cardigans and whatever would make them feel warm. Yes, I come from a very hot country but I cannot stand to wear two layers under extremely bright sunlight where I need to stand full of sweat.

Candle like Monas Jakarta Indonesia

This is Monas. It was built following the shape of candle. Or so they say.

Monas Candle Jakarta Indonesia in hand

Caught it!

Not so fabulous ehind the scene of fabulous "Caught it!" action. :P

Not so fabulous behind the scene of fabulous “Caught it!” action. 😛

We took turns to queue as we had four of us. In the middle of queue, the ticket colour in other people’s hands smashed us. We had bought the wrong ticket! It was because of the ticket price difference between foreigners and locals. And we solve it in a very Myanmar-ish way. Once we reached the gate, we talked with all language including sort of sign language and the ticketing officer agreed to allow us to go up by paying 30,000 Rph upfront. Cool, huh? I’d bet I would never be able to do such thing in Singapore. Then again, just like in above taxi case, it made me think whether I want a very systematic way of life or a little bit chaotic one with some touch of excitement.  That of course was hard, too.

View from Monas Jakarta Indonesia

View from Monas.

Monas Jakarta Indonesia

Jakarta is HUGE!

Big Mascots Jakarta Indonesia

I don’t know how these giant mascots are called in Indonesia. We call it /htan: thoú/ in my hometown. (Not Yangon, it’s Myeik.)

The view from Monas was not as thrilling as that of from Singapore flyer. Yet, giggling of children, direct sunlight and friendly smiles did make me feel much more comfortable.

Homeless Cat in Jakarta Indonesia

Le Cat, found near Monas!