We are back from our second research trip to Myanmar for the Burma Superstar cookbook. The last time I was in the country, it was the dry season. Bagan—the medieval archeological zone famous for its pagodas (pictured above), was arid. Yangon was sunny. Mandalay was downright cool in the evenings.
This time around, Bagan and the surrounding plains were lush—but nearly too hot to do much outside of morning and evening. Mandalay was steamy. And Yangon rained buckets at 2pm nearly every day. The rains have brought major flooding to parts of the country especially in the western states, and bags of rice and other aid relief was piled in the domestic terminal at Yangon Airport. While downtown Yangon was safe from the floods, I could tell that residents were looking forward to October when things dry out.
We were lucky that the wet, steamy weather did not get in the way of our travels. The rain helped green up cities, too. Mandalay, which had felt a tad tired in January, was alive with leafy trees covering some of the nondescript 1960s architecture. We also visited Namhsan, a rural mountain township in the Shan State known for its tea and dramatic views. To get there, we drove through rainclouds.
We also had a great crew of international travelers, including two additions from the previous trip: Jett Yang, who can entertain kids using magic tricks that require little more than a couple of rubber bands, and John Lee, the photographer shooting the cookbook. John took one for the team when he helped push a car out of the mud-and got covered head to toe in it.
Here are some observations and non-pro snapshots from the trip. The one photo that we all regret not taking was the large Asian dude standing next to the wall air conditioning unit in the sweltering Bagan airport wearing a baggy tank top with a huge cat face in the center.
The shirt tagline: “Check Meowt.” Dude, we totally did. [click to continue…]