I touched down in Yangon from Osaka the following morning, and the extreme heat was the first thing to hit me. Gone was the perfect 75/80 degree Japan weather, Yangon on that specific day topped nearly 100 degrees. Fun!
I’m not going to lie, I barely did anything that first day because I think I was in some kind of culture shock.. To go from Japan to Myanmar was quite the drastic change.
The first thing I did was walk down the street that my hostel was on.
It was humid, congested, noisy, and smelled like a combination of fish sauce and dog doo doo. Am I painting a vivid picture? Between the street vendors peddling their goods, wandering dogs that weaved in and out of peoples’ legs, and men spitting some kind of chewing tobacco juice everywhere around me, I felt like I was suffering from claustrophobia.
I made it out onto the main street in search of something to eat. There were people sitting on tiny plastic chairs eating what looked like rice and curry served out of huge vats. Further down the street there were some fresh fruit and noodle vendors. Two things kept popping up repeatedly:
Fried crickets and..
Miscellaneous meat skewers! I was later told that intestine was a popular street snack in Yangon. I didn’t have the courage to try either of these, maybe one day..
I kept wandering, and finally came across an Indian restaurant that advertised as ‘Lonely Planet recommended.’ I know I know, boo you Jasmine) , going all the way to Myanmar and eating Indian food. I trust Lonely Planet-a tiny bit more than my judgment of a random street vendor- so I decided to head into the small shop. To my surprise, the owner of the shop was speaking in Malayalam (my native language) to one of the patrons. I asked him if he was a Malayalee and we chatted for a while about Kerala and things to do in Yangon and whatnot. That small interaction really helped ease the anxiety that had been slowly building.
Kerala-style meal, on the house! I chose a veg thali plate as I was still hesitant of the meat..
Grabbed some papaya off the street on my way home. Dumped the rest of my water bottle into the bag and gave it a good shake. I’m sure that did next to nothing in terms of safety, but the effort was reassuring. The papaya was delicious and fingers crossed, I haven’t gotten sick yet..
Back at the hostel, I had a brief self-scolding session where I realized that I might as well have stayed at home if I planned on being uncomfortable in new environments. It was a hard day, but definitely something to learn from. With that in mind, I told myself I would give Yangon my best shot the following day.