Ye is our Travel Specialist in Myanmar and is based in his hometown, Yangon. We asked him to share his perfect weekend in his city, and show us around his Backyard.
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As soon as I wake up, the first thing I think about is breakfast! One of my favorite places to go is the Lucky Seven tea shop which, luckily for me, is only about two bus stops from my home on U Chit Muang Rd. This old-school tea shop offers a variety of dishes, including rice, noodles and an array of snacks. I usually eat Mandalay-style Nangyi Thoke which is thick rice noodles with chickpea powder, sliced onions and chicken. Of course, being a local I love sweet tea with condensed milk and sugar. I always have one of these to go with my meal.
Then I take a taxi to Maelamu Paya, a pagoda at the north end of the town. My parents often took me there as a kid to show me the statues which describe the life story of Buddha, and other famous Jataka stories. Of course, most of the stories teach us to have good morality in life. The reason I go there is because there are many palm readers and astrologers who offer to read the future for you.
I think it is important to try to predict the future. If the prediction is not favorable, the astrologer will give me “Yadaya”. Yadaya is an act that you have to do to change your future into a good one. For example, they might say I need to offer nine roses to Buddha at a particular pagoda and by doing that I will change my future for the better.
On Saturdays, I often meet with my friends for lunch at Happy Noodle Restaurant on Inya Road. It’s a very ‘homely’ building set in a nice garden. You can choose to sit in the nearby garden or inside the building when you need to cool off. There is a mouth-watering menu with many different kinds of noodles, each of which represent the noodles of different towns or regions across the country.
My favorite noodle is called Lwe Lin Noodle, which represents the town of Lwe Lin in the Eastern part of Myanmar, in the Shan State. It is a Shan noodle, but with a different flavor, using tomatoes in the soup. My second favorite dish is called Pone Yay Gyi Spaghetti, which is a fusion dish with Italian spaghetti and a black bean paste called Pone Yay Gyi, which is made in Bagan only.
After taking some time to relax and chat with my friends, we will then usually walk to Inya Lake, where there is a boat club. Many of us enjoyed rowing when we were in university, and like to combine our social gatherings with an activity. For those who don’t like to be so active, Inya Lake is surrounded by mansions, green and lush parks with trees. The house of Aung San Su Kyi is also on Inya Lake – it is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, so you might spot some famous locals here too.
By the time we finish being active we are usually quite hungry again! On one corner of Inya Lake, along Pyay Road, there is a public area with plants and a walking path next to the lake. Here you can see groups of young people hanging out with their friends. At the end of the path, you can discover a group of local restaurants.
My favorite restaurant here is called Min Lan Monte Te. It is a Rakhine restaurant which sells Rakhine noodle soup and different seafood dishes (Rakhine is a state of Myanmar on the Western coastline, so they really know good seafood!). I adore grilled tiger prawns and octopus here, but I can’t mention this restaurant without talking about a dish called Ko Ta Ngar Hin which literally means ‘Fishermen Curry’. This is a dish with variety of seafood such as fish, prawns, crab, and squid with herbs such as lemon grass, green chili, ginger, and lime.
If we want to hang out still after this, and have the energy, then we will sometimes go to Tokyo Bar on the 2nd floor of Gran Mee Ya Htar (serviced apartment/hotel). It is a chic bar, decorated with atmospheric lights and modern furniture. It’s a great place for a small party and has a band with strong singers and guitarists and is open until midnight.
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On Sunday mornings I often go to Shwe Ah Ya Thar tea shop on Shwe Gone Dine road near to the traffic lights on Kabaraye Pagoda road. This tea shop serves very good food with dishes influenced by Myanmar, China and India. Indian Chapati or Puri with mutton soup is my favorite here!
Then I will go to Yuzana Plaza which sells everything from clothes and fashion accessories to house-hold items and even furniture. It’s a great place to go window shopping, and it really gives you an idea of local fashion tastes.
For lunch, I like to feast on hta min paung (steamed rice with meat, vegetables and brown gravy) at a restaurant near to Myaynigone Junction across Bargayar Road from Shwe Man cinema. The crispy pork skin and meat with brown gravy is my most favorite dish in the city!
After lunch, I feel like it’s necessary to take a walk to help digestion of all that wonderful food. I often go to Theingottara Park at the North West corner of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Though a lot of people go to the pagoda, I’d guess that 99% of them don’t know this park exists. It has many shady trees and many other plants that line the flowering pathways. There is also a small lake, in which a beautiful golden building house holds the statue of Shin Upa Gotta.
There are fish in the pond and I like to stop to feed them. People release the fish into the lake and it’s forbidden to catch them. There is also a corner where you can feed the birds too. People in Myanmar believe that you gain merit by feeding others, so it’s very popular to see locals here throwing grain and bread out for the wildlife.
For dinner, I sometimes like to go to Myeik Maung Tate Restaurant. It is famous for a special flat white rice noodle that’s originally from Myeik, a region in the south of Myanmar that goes really well with seafood, steamed peas, bean sprouts, and herbs.
I admit I am quite a big movie fan and on Sunday nights I like to wind down my weekend by watching a movie. I will head to Sule Pagoda road where my favorite cinema hall called Nay Pyi Daw (same as the name of Myanmar new capital). Usually Hollywood movies are on, but occasionally they have films from Southeast Asia on too.
This is my idea of the perfect weekend in Yangon. I’m very proud of my city and would love to share my passion with you, so feel free to get in touch with me and ask me anything about Myanmar!
If you enjoyed this insider-look at Yangon, be sure to check out Khun A’s favorite way to spend a weekend in Bangkok in her 48 Hours in Bangkok blog.