People in Myanmar all love the United States. Everyone asked where I was from and 90% of the time when I said USA they said “Obama!” They proudly told me that he had visited twice, once just at the end of last year. I even saw someone wearing a t-shirt with Obama’s picture on it and the date of his visit. So many people said they want to go to the US first – if they get to travel anywhere that’s where they want to go. USA is the best, they said.
The best food in Myanmar wasn’t where I expected it to be. I’d heard about street food in Yangon and Mandalay, that it was amazing, even though people kept getting sick from it. I ate the street food and ended up being fine, but that was all just okay to me. I found the best food in Myanmar in the small towns: I could eat the tomato salad in Bagan every day, or the tea leaf salad in Bagan and Inle Lake, and I’ll never forget the Nepalese restaurant in Kalaw.
The interactions I had with people who are from Myanmar are beyond any other country I’ve been to. I’ve raved about the people in Colombia for months, but even there doesn’t equal the spirit I witnessed in Myanmar. I don’t know how many times I can say how friendly they were, helpful beyond any expectation, and genuinely kind-hearted. I’ve felt a lot on this trip that I haven’t met many locals, that most of my interactions are with other travelers – it’s easier to meet them since we’re all in hostels together or on the same buses – but that wasn’t the case in Myanmar. For the first time I felt like I really got a sense of the people who live there, and it was great.