Starbucks at NAIA (international airport in Manila) at 4:30 in the morning:
“Two venti cafe latte please. ”
“Sure, sir. What’s your name? ”
“Ok, On. Thanks for shopping at Starbucks”
So here I sit with a hot beverage in the morning awaiting boarding. We have waded through check in, immigration and security. It helps when you’re early, even more when you’re super-early.
The conversation at the start of this text pretty much sums up how people here react to my name. For a while I tried to use Arne, but the E at the end was too much for them. They just kept saying Arn. So now I say Arn and as you can see are we still shortening it.
We got up at 03:00 and ate a breakfast inn the room with fruits, cereal and milk that holds about 20 degrees. The milk here it’s not stored child and last about a year unopened. Clean and easy checkout and a taxi ride later we’re here at NAIA. Second in line for check in and even though it’s early everybody’s smiling.
We leave in just about two hours from now and it’s about 28 degrees in here. Hopefully they’ll pump up the air condition before the sun rises. Katja is of to scan the shops, but from what I saw walking here from the security it shouldn’t take long.
And it didn’t. She came right back and we complain to each other about the heat. Turns out that the reconstruction of the terminal has taken out the air condition and it’s only mobile units available. They don’t help all that much.
We read up on do and dont’s in Myanmar and learn a few things when it comes to social interaction. Don’t touch the monks (like I’m going to pet them like dogs?) Don’t offer to shake hands with a woman. Don’t point your feet towards a Buddha or an elder person. No women on the roof of buses and boats in report for the men and elders below. A few things to notice, some that won’t be a problem, and a couple of good advice. Use your right hand, our both, in interaction with others. That goes for shopping etc. where money should be presented with the right hand, and goods received with the same.
I’m right, you’re wrong, who’s left?
We move down to gate 2 an hour before the flight and find it freezing compared to upstairs. The mobile units work a lot better in confined areas and it’s cool and mixed here. Maybe I should changed to my long pants already?
The flight to KL is the best ever. We pre booked the emergency exit seats and had the most spacious seat ever. The plane wasn’t a quarter full, and people mostly slept all the way. I enjoyed a good entertainment system and was happy.
KL was a drag. Several shops but mostly chocolate and sweets. We survived of course, but I understand Ida that we met in Ubud, Bali. She and Espen had been through this airport a lot of times during their travels, and it’s not that exciting to spend a couple of hours there time and time again.
The next flight from KL to Yangon wad equally nice. But the strangest thing, Myanmar is 90 minutes different than the Philippines. Not the whole hour by hour, but an hour and a half. OooooooKaaaaayyy. We make it work, no problem, but the flight wet though was about an hour turned out to be a whole lot longer.
It’s chest Myanmar is a developing economy. When we got Rio immigration all the counters were sponsored by Samsung. Yes, you read that right. On every counter in the immigration is it a Samsung sign with commercial for a product. Nothing you would ever see at home.
At the airport in Yangon we also found the Norwegian Tele operator Telenor before we walked through customs. So before I waa out on the streets of Yangon I had a local SIM card and a new number.
We tried to exchange a few dollar bills and had been warned by Sverre that they only accept crispy new bills. We thought we had high enough standard on the five we presented, they accepted two. Oooooookaaaaaaay.
We got picked up by the hotel driver, or rather a taxi driver they use for these kind of pickups, and got into the car. His English makes my mom a grade A student in comparison. It was extremely hard to understand him, and he constantly put in “wit” as a statement for “wait” when he struggled to find the words. Phonetically it sounded something liked this: (read it out loud) “No ma’am, Wit, were I, dudausand, tulist maibi bit like, wit, maibi titausand, no mo, walk, no bus, ol Taxi, lef univity o Yangon, nis pak”
And so it continues. We try our best to catch all he wants to give us of information, but sometimes we just go with the old:”yes 👍” and hope for the best.
The hotel was simple but reasonably clean. We checked in, got a shower and headed downstairs. We had plans, but we reorganized and grabbed a beer instead. First we got to have a nice talk with a Dutch couple who stay at eggs hotel, then a couple of Norwegians showed up as well. We talked a while before it got critical to get some food.
Well out on the street Katja is like a English setter, all over the place. We look at some clothing, but finally agrees it’s imperative and relationship adding to eat before we do much else. We live in thirteen street and plot a course for nineteenth street, said to be the home of street food.
We pass eighteen street ads stop in the next one. Obviously this soul then be nineteenth, right? Nope, that’s one or two roads after that again. But we did find good food in our street also. “No English”, but when you can order by pointing, sounds and mimic everything turns out o.k..
After dinner we walk a little further and just soak in the atmosphere. This is how I pictured Asia. Food stalls everywhere. Fruit it’s sold right next to scissors and toothbrushes, never to clothes, watches and handbags. Cheap, fake and “you need Xl ma’am”if they first do speak English.
We buy each a juice from a street vendor. Katja get avocado and lime, I get strawberry and Dragon fruit. It’s delicious. Probably not clean our very hygienic, but our standard is constantly dropping in that area. We walk and talk and turn around at a point and head home. Right after we buy each a sarong. We’ve only used sarong’s for fighting so far, but need these to enter the holy grounds of the Pagodas. Guess the next days pictures will reveal how we look in them.
This last few paragraphs are mostly written standing in the street waiting for Katja who’s looking for a “Chinese blouse”. The ones she’s presented with lack both style and quality so so far it’s a no go.
As we walk down the streets it’s hard not to notice people are starting at me. At one point we passed a table of girls and the laughed and pointed as I was some kind of freak. Indeed I am, but that’s not because of my height, but because of my dark secrets.
When we get back to the hotel we learn that the air condition don’t start until five minutes after power is restored to the room, and that the junk Judy is so high the towels are equally wet add when we left here. Let’s just sum that up to a great day.
We’re both tired from a long day and enter sleep mode now.
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
– G.K. Chesterton