First impression of Myanmar

sailor (Ocean & Mountain)

Arrive at Yangon airport in the evening.  It's already dark.  The airport terminal building is very modern and clean.  It's not so easy to find out what's different, if compare with a Canadian major airport.

At the immigration counter, the officer is polite and nice.  She takes only about one minute to process my passport and lets me go.

The arrival section outside the baggage carousel area is not big, but has the things I need:  Cellphone company for a SIM card, ATM, and prepaid taxi.  

The ATM is able to dispense 600,000 Kyats. (about CAD 600).  It's a big stack of money, each note is of 10,000Ks.

I get a MPT SIM card, with 15GB of data for 30 days.  Together with some credits for phone call and text message, the total cost is 22,500 Kyats. ($22 CAD)  The lady is very good at English.  

The hostel I booked is in downtown.  Prepaid taxi costs 9,000Ks.  That's a more fair rate than other private taxi drivers.  The guy at the taxi counter walks with me all the way to the taxicab.  It's a very decent Honda car, with power window and a big LCD touch screen.  Later I figure out that it's a used car imported from Japan.  The steering wheel is on the right, although in Myanmar cars drive on the right.  The driver says most cars are imported from Japan with right-side wheel.  I do see a couple other cars, with Japanese business names on the back.

Since I just left India, I quickly notice a big difference.  The drivers are so polite and well-behaved, like in Canada!  The cars drive in their own lanes, instead of riding the line; There's no honking; They wait in front of right lights.  When I was in China and India, I thought it was so difficult to find civilized drivers in developing countries.  But in Yangon, it appears just so naturally.  Why?

The taxi driver actually speaks very good English.  We chat all the way.  He only drives airport taxi, works 8 hours per day, 6 days per week.  I ask him how he learnt English.  He says he graduated from Yangon University with a degree in Mathematics!  (OMG!) His name is Myant.

Myant's friends typically have two or three children.  But Myant has only one kid, a daughter, 16 years old, who will go to Yangon University too next year.  The fee of university?  It's 50,000 Kyats ($50CAD) per year.  This is virtually free, I think.

We talk about the recent democratic changes in Myanmar.  It was two years ago.  Life has become better since then, gradually.  According to what I read, foreign investments rushed in after the change.  So I ask him how about the prices in daily life?  He says, there is no change in prices.

I can see that the city is managed quite well.  the streets are clean.  There are many cars parking in the residential area.

For vehicles, special ones have special colours:   diplomatic cars have white plates; yellow if the car is owned by monasteries; green for international NGOs; blue for tourism purpose vehicles; red for taxis.  I happen to see a car with a white plate of "UN 1-1".  There are quite a few UN cars as I see on my way!

Local people may go to cafe bars for breakfast.  There is a local tradition breakfast called "Monhinga", costs 400 to 500 Kyats.


2017-11-23 -04:00
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