After a 30+ hour trip from Kingston via Ottawa, Boston & Doha, Qatar, I finally arrived in Yangon, Myanmar. The flights all went smoothly, except for a lot of turbulence on the last lag from Qatar. I’d highly recommend flying with Qatar Airlines – great service and amenities. The Doha airport is a sight to see as well, especially the duty-free shops’ selection of Scotch, eh dad? Arriving at 630am Yangon time, I lined up with the rest of foreigners in the immigration line and passed through easily without saying a single word to the immigration officer. I then exchanged some USD for MMK while waiting for my bags to arrive.
Once landed, I walked through customs and found the program’s manager from Cuso International Myanmar waiting for me. We waited for a fellow volunteer who (we had no idea) was traveling on the same flight as me. We then drove into Yangon and dropped the other volunteer off at their apartment for the next year. Then we headed towards the condo where I will be staying for the next two weeks of orientation. Except for the congested traffic, and the longest traffic light I have ever sat through (5 minutes), we got to the condo okay. This is a new condo for Cuso that three future volunteers will get to stay in. For now, I have it for myself.
After a (hot!) shower I attempted to nap for an hour … Six hours later I woke up to lively sounds coming from the wet markets below my window. I went out for some fresh air to wake up a bit. I walked through the hundreds of stores and stalls selling fresh fruits, fried foods and lots and lots of sandals. I found my way to the shopping center with a grocery store. I got some dish soap, butter and Rice Krispies (the essentials, right?). I even managed to walk back without getting lost (amazing how dependent we’ve become on immediate Internet and map access on our phones)!
By 9 pm I was falling asleep again. A bed was a welcome change to the airport seats. Although I was WIDE awake from 2-4am, I managed to get a few more hours sleep before finally getting up at 8 am. I made myself some coffee and cereal to eat on the balcony and enjoyed the noises of the morning coming alive below my apartment.
In the afternoon, once it had cleared up after a thunderstorm, I ventured out to explore. I stopped for a cappuccino at a place were the staff doted on every customer and were especially eager to talk English with me.. As I drank my coffee I watch the heavy Yangon traffic slowly move along the street and the hundred of young people hanging out near the shopping center. Eventually, I went to explore the mall, trying to put in time as it had begun pouring rain again. Two hours later, after eating my first Myanmar dish, Shan Noodles, and walking around the mall more than 5 times, I decided to brave the rain that was still coming down hard. A five-minute walk got me to my apartment and I was only minorly soaked.
More about that next time, thanks for reading.