I’ve been wanting to get to Myanmar for quite some time, however each time I’m about to hop on a plane and go, something happens and I end up somewhere else. Two tries later, I made it!
I was absolutely shocked when we first arrived in Yangon. For a developing country, one that has recently opened its doors to foreigners, the airport is beautiful! It wasn’t run down at all, and I quickly had to adjust my expectations for the country.
We took a taxi to the train station, because we were actually heading out of Yangon that night. We then headed out to explore, carrying all of our bags.
Yangon, like the airport, was so much more modern that I had expected. Although I’m all for roughing it, the beautiful little city was not a disappointment from what I had first seen.
We walked around and soaked up the city vibes- all wonderful. We quickly became thirsty in the heat, and since we didn’t have bottled water, we stopped in a little local hole in the wall teashop. It was a very rustic little place- 100000% up my alley.
As soon as we walked in, we got plenty of stares. It’s quite possible that we were the first foreigners to ever walk into that tea shop.
A man came up and asked us, “tea?” We confirmed, then took a seat at a table, where sweets were laid out. More sweets and pastries were brought out by tea boys, followed by a pot of Chinese tea and two cups of Burmese tea.
Tea boys are young boys from poorer countryside villages. In exchange for food, a place to stay, and very little pocket money, they come to the cities to work in these tea houses. As wonderful as it was to see these young boys gaining the opportunity to have food and a place to stay, it was hard to imagine that they had to leave their families at such a young age. I’m so lucky to have grown up with my parents by my side.
Once the tea boys have brought out your teas, you start with the Burmese tea (strong black tea with condensed milk in a tiny little teacup), then move onto the Chinese tea from the pot. Feel free to eat whatever you’d like and to leave whatever you’d like.
Burmese tea houses are the places to go if you want to delve into local life. There were plenty of Burmese men and women sitting in there chatting, looking at their phones, and enjoying each other’s company. These tea houses used to be where government spies would hang out- all gossip was discussed over tea.
For two pastries, two cups of Burmese tea, and a pot of Chinese tea, our check came out to 1000 kyat, about USD $1. A very cheap, but incredibly priceless, experience.