Trip Start May 01, 2007
Trip End Jun 17, 2008

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Friday, March 28, 2008

With my Myanmar visa, fresh, crisp $100 bills, a 5 year old used Lonely Planet Myanmar and absolutely no plan, I stepped off the plane today into Yangon.  This is the first country that I have traveled to on this trip that does not have ATM machines.  None.  Even if they did I wouldn't want to use one because the official rate is like 7 kyat to the dollar whereas the black market rate is about 1100 kyat to the dollar.  Hard to believe the difference.  Could you imagine changing $100 to 700 kyat only to learn you now have 70 cents?  For more on this see How the Regime Hides it Billions.

I've only been here 10 hours so not much to report yet.  I spent the afternoon wandering around the city center, checking out the sights and mostly nibbling on fantastic street food.  From what I can see Myanmar, Yangon at least, is a mix of influence and ethnicities from India, Thailand, and China which of course isn't that intellectual of a revelation since geographically it's right between all those countries as well.  There are Buddhist stupas, Hindu temples, Christian churches and Mulsim mosques.  On the street you can buy fresh squeezed cane juice just like in India or meat skewers just like in China and the list goes on.  It's like the best of the best of Asian street food. 

I'm staying at the Ocean Pearl Inn which so far has treated me wonderfully.  My own, spotless, room, air conditioning, private bath, hot water, towels, soap, all for $10.  And the staff have helped me with all my travel needs, are super friendly and speak excellent English.
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