6 May 2016 by Charles Manners
I have just returned from a family holiday in Myanmar or Burma which is a wonderful country with very friendly people.
Working with a catering consultancy means that even on holiday I find myself talking to the hotel staff, management and restaurant teams, and Burma was as if not more interesting than many countries I have visited.
Burma really only opened up to tourists in 2012, since then there has been a huge growth in tourism, from all parts of the world, but European, Chinese, Japanese and Thailand are key source countries.
Only recently have there been ATM's, with tourists having to use $ and change them at currency exchanges. The government has recently changed with everyone we spoke to having such high hopes that with the military giving up power (they still have at least 25% of the parliament and control the key Ministers in the government). The new Lady Aung San Suu Kyi has a huge challenge ahead of her, to meet the expectations of an ambitious and young country who are desperate for a better life. The average wage is $100 a month, and not surprisingly many go abroad to the Middle East and South East Asia for better paid work.
The hotels we stayed in we're all excellent, and in the main small boutique operations which like the Middle East had no shortage of staff.
The food was a combination of Shan (local) Chinese, Indian and Thai which can be eaten from street food or restaurants all of which offer incredible value. Where we could we avoided tourist restaurants, and Trip Advisor really is a key factor in driving business. We could eat from between $7 to $15 per head. The challenge was to identify food from clean food vendors. The fish was really good; and puddings that were absolutely delicious were Mont Lone Yay Paw or flooding rice balls, which is made out of rice powder with sweet (sugar) inserted inside. We were nearly always offered a fish based noodle soup, which given the heat at 40c was always welcome.
The picture below of the ‘Nice Restaurant’ we did not visit! But was not shy in its advertising. Anyone thinking of visiting Burma, happy to help on ideas and the itinerary.