Road to Rangoon…..

Thursday – 3 Days to go

The week has been quiet in the cafe but for some reason yesterday was busy again like last week. Wednesday must be the new Friday!

Maybe it’s considered a treat day for yourself in celebration of reaching half way through the week for behaving well in the office? No tantrums at the poor stationary clerk for not supplying you with any more post-it notes perhaps? Well done.

The new beef and potato Wednesday special of the day must be catching on. Either that or the recipe is improving! Beef mince stewed slowly until tender to the bite with meltingly soft potatoes until it all comes together into a comforting soft mouthful, some simple spices and a good kick of chilli. “That’s it” as mum used to say; a little bit of this and a little bit of that “da beh” as they say in Burmese…

Or maybe it’s the warmth of the dish is what you just fancy on a cool, windy but ultimately sunny day. It is May after all in the UK….

I started drawing up a list of essentials last week (and now all purchased) which have taken up almost half the luggage space. Mostly it contains lots of packets of tissues and wipes. I feel a bit uncomfortable about taking wipes but I decided for reasons of health & hygiene they can be classed as “essential” rather than “convenience”. And I will definitely not flush any down the loo.

Mundane as it sounds, I also drew up a list of suitable clothing to be considered. It is May after all in Burma.

Rangoon (or Yangon, now it’s more commonly referred to name) is stifling at this time of year hanging around the mid 30s degrees centigrade. (OMG! Just checked 10 mins ago and it’s 37 degrees centigrade right now). The heavy monsoon rain is imminent and will be welcoming but disruptive and annoying to the daily lives of locals. I should pack for this likelihood as well.

As we are filming I guess I need to think about what might look good on camera?! However, I don’t know why I’m concerned as the intention is to shoot the food, the amazing chefs, the fantastic local eateries, the great street scenes and market activities. No-one will be interested in the colour of my outfit! I’m really looking forward to discover all this. 

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What a messy pile of clothes! Long way from being packed….

And of course, my endless lists (obligatory for any trip), also include the foods we must eat and the best places that are serving them in Rangoon, and if at all possible to watch and learn how they make it. More on this later……

I’m meeting my brother there. He lives and works between Singapore and Vietnam. He’s the youngest of the six siblings. He is Number 6, I am number 5. My dad introduced us to their friends by numbers. Just like the Vontraps!

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My brother Moe, eating amazing fried herrings in Stockholm
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…another fantastic meal in Stockholm with brother Moe

 

He has been doing all of the organising for the trip. This includes access to film in several kitchens of well regarded restaurants such as the Mandalay Restaurant at the Governor’s Residence and the Spice Brasserie at the Park Royal Hotel.

More on this later……

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Moe & me…Stockholm

As the trip approaches, I’ve been wondering how much the country has changed.

Since leaving at the age of five, my first and only visit back was in 2013.

My memories of this trip are somewhat vague, mainly because I’m trying to recall it from the perspective of the food I ate. I think this may have something to do with my personal ‘eating’ experience then. I am certain it has nothing to do with the abundance of good food to eat, I just didn’t discover much. I’m a bit annoyed with myself how much I can’t remember, maybe it will come back to me later…..

I wonder how Rangoon has changed as well. There’s been significant modernisation I hear. It’s probably fair to say that up to 2013 change has been very slow since we left in the 70’s.

On that last trip, as now, you have to take almost everything including pristine US dollar notes as you cannot buy Burmese currency known as ‘Kyats’ outside of Burma. There is also no such things as ATMs/service tills. And back then the facility to use bank debit or credit cards did not exist. However, I have heard bank cards are now accepted in the larger establishments.

I believe the current exchange rate for Kyats is about 1352 to one pound sterling. This reminds me I’ll need to pack a huge purse to carry the notes around. A scene from Scarface as I dole out cash for a bowl of Mohinga (the Burmese fish noodle soup found everywhere on street food stalls to high end restaurants, eaten any time of the day), conjures up in my mind….

I’m not too concerned though. I witnessed at the bank people leaving with clear plastic bags full of cash. And there was no security at the bank!

 

I’m very excited to see what has changed and to tell you more about my discoveries through this blog.

 

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