It didn’t look too far on our little map, and it was right on our road, so we took off on foot. Kim has spent a good amount of time walking around the neighborhood making it a fun time of her pointing out things that she has noticed and places she has visited. Eventually we walked out of the range of her journeys and continued on down the busy road that we were following. We walked for a while along Inya lake which was a nice break from the buildings and cars.
The ride was speedy and got us downtown in only about 20 minutes. Although their method of getting on and off was a bit hectic, it provided for a much quicker ride. Happily they actually came to a complete stop to let practically the entire bus off at a main bus stop just short of Sule Pagoda, the center point of down town. Since we had only gotten a bit to eat at the last restaurant, we were still hungry so we thought we would try out one of the places in the Lonely Planet (aka the bible for anyone traveling through Myanmar).
Sunday Sundae & Dimsum
It was a very exciting day on Wednesday when we decided to finally go get some kitchen equipment. I have been amazed at what Kim can do with only a 2 burner hot pot and a rice cooker, but to make our lives a little easier and better we knew we would need a bit more. We set off in search of a toaster oven and blender. Heading to the “new Ocean,” since that was most recommended for household goods like these. This is another large department store similar to Walmart in the way that it has everything from fresh fish and food goods to clothing to electronics and everything else you could need. We had only one option for a toaster oven so that was an easy choice. For the blender we got one that doubles as a food processor as well as a juicer (supposedly). I know it doesn’t sound like much but we were ecstatic bringing home our new kitchen toys.
Kim's New Job
About an hour after the meeting Kim received an email from Alex saying that he couldn’t think of anyone better to fit the position and he wanted Kim no matter what. He offered her the salary that she had asked for along with some perks if she would take the job.
That is how Kim became the Head Chef and Kitchen Manager of Smoothie Foodie, a western smoothie parlor and café. She will be focusing on making good western food with – wait for it – no rice! And no noodles! And no oily foods! The restaurant is still under construction currently but they are hoping to open by the end of September or early October. Yay!
To celebrate we went to see the restaurant space on Friday night where we met the other owner Austin. Austin is a local Myanmar, but lived in Toronto for 7 years so he is fond of the western way of life and western food. He returned to Myanmar not too long ago and began importing vehicles for the high class along with making some very strategic (and very profitable) real estate choices. They all sat down and talked about menu options, general food questions, and what kind of equipment and supplies Kim wants. After listening to Kim talk about food for an hour we all got very hungry! Kim can do that to people.
Austin decided to take us to Sharkies – a very nice western restaurant that we had heard about from a bunch of different people. The specialize in making their own ingredients like cheese, pasta, and sauces. They serve amazing handmade pizza and pastas. It was a delicious evening.
As Austin was dropping us back at our apartment I mentioned that he should take us out and show us the night life at some point (since he was fairly young and obviously knew what there is to know about the area). His response was “Okay, I’ll pick you up in an hour.” We were super tired but honored by his generosity and always up for a good adventure so we agreed. So began an evening that I would have never imagined to happen – let along in Yangon, Myanmar.
Austin and Alex picked us up in his fancy car after a quick shower and change and swooped us off into the night. Speeding down the road he asked if we would like to have a pre-drink. Sure, why not? He jacked the wheel and did a u-turn in the middle of the busy street and slid into a spot in front of a place called Cask 81. We were immediately greeted by men opening our doors and holding umbrellas for us on the short walk to the entrance. When we came through the doors it was as if we were stepping into a completely different world separate from the dirt, rain, and poverty that was right outside. This place was nowhere like I had seen here, nowhere like I had ever been. It made me think of a smoking parlor that would have been on the Titanic, minus the smoking. The lights were dim; the interior design was Asian fusion; the servers looked fancier than I could any day. We were led to an area with plush true leather seats surrounding glass coffee/side tables. I was so glad that I decided to dress up a bit! They handed us menus of all drinks served only by the bottle – to clarify they were almost all whisky. This was a top of the line whisky place. All of my assumptions of this place were made true in the dollar amounts of the menu items. The only things that were cheaper than $200 were the mixers that were about $5 for a can of soda. At least it was easy to decide what I was going to have since that was obviously the only thing we were going to be able to afford.
Austin spoke easily to the server in Myanmar and he returned with a tasting glass for him, which he sipped and nodded as the man scurried off again. This time he came back with a bottle of whisky – but not any old whisky, a bottle of 18-year-old Glenlivet. They poured a glass for each of us and asked if we wanted a mixer. I ordered sour mix (whisky sours are my absolute favorites) and they gave me the best sour mix I have ever tasted – hands down. We lounged there sipping the amazingness and gabbing about our interests, histories, and restaurant plans. The Glenlivet was the smooth, silky, and beyond delicious. That is what you get with a price tag of $400 for the bottle. Nothing will ever taste the same after that.
Reluctantly I peeled myself out of the comfy state I had settled in as we set off to our next destination. It wasn’t a long car ride before we pulled into a driveway lined with all sorts of fancy cars. Even though it was dark, it was easy to find where we were going due to the blaring music. Stepping through a pair of Porsches we weaved through the people outside smoking and found the way to the door. I followed closely behind our group past the security and into a nightclub. Who would have known they had a place like this here. All of the lights were off and the foggy air (that must have been created with dry ice) was sliced with flashing neon lights. The music was ear-pounding loud and some sort of techno-dance style. Austin quickly found someone to assist him as he must have asked for a table. They quickly escorted us to a very nice high table in a peak area of the room. Shortly another bottle of whisky arrived, this time it was a Johnny Walker Gold Label. I happily accepted a glass. Unfortunately after drinking the spectacular Glenlivet, this tasted like well whisky in comparison. I later found out that they hold the rest of the bottle (that we didn’t finish) at the bar under Austin’s name for when he returns – The Glenlivet they delivered to his house the following day. The night continued with dancing, munching on crunchy snacks provided by the bar, laughing at the actions of the crowd, trying to hold conversations over the music, and generally fun festivities.
I so wish I had pictures of this whole evening but I didn’t want to look tourist-y so I left all of my cameras at home but hopefully my written description gave you a view into the epic evening that it was. It was a night that felt more like a dream the next day – it was so unexpected, so out of place, and so unbelievable.