Planning a wedding and an international move requires a lot of… planning. For Lisa’s birthday, I was happy to skim from the extensive planning of our friends Nick and Diana (actually, just Diana). for a long weekend in Myanmar. Lucky for us, the plan was better than I could have planned in a whole year.
After a hop from Hong Kong to Yangon and a jump to a little beachside airport, we settled into our temporary paradise in Ngapali Beach for our four day weekend, We celebrated with sunrise beach walks, sunset beachfront dinners, and pure relaxation in between. You can tell this was a Lisa-oriented trip because I won’t be describing any cuts, crashes, or close calls. If you want something besides bike rides and beaching, go here now. Otherwise, crack a Tiger beer, sit back, and relax.
Ngapali beach is the type of place where, for the price of our daily rent in Hong Kong, we could stay at a luxury beach resort. The sky is blue, the streets are clean, and the people are really friendly and nice.
When we arrived, they picked us up in an old bright blue jalopy with a boat for a roof. At the hotel, they sat us down in the thatched roof lobby for a welcome orange juice, and when we got to our room, we found a delicious glutinous cake which I promptly devoured… I mean, surprise birthday decorations for Lisa!
Again, if you want to read about an adventure, go here. For the next few days, we walked the beach at sunrise (taking advantage of a two-hour time difference from Hong Kong), played in the waves, and ate fresh fruit cut up for us by ladies who carried a tropical produce section on their head up and down the beach.
Besides that, we took a couple of bike rides, ate gelato, got a couple of coma-inducing massages, and took a long boat ride to swim around with schools of brightly-colored fish. I will let Lisa’s pictures verify that I wasn’t dreaming.
The most memorable part for both of us was something we have been promising ourselves to do in each of the SE Asian countries that we’ve visited. On one of our bike rides, Lisa spotted a sign promising a local cooking class. This day set a high bar for any culinary exploration in Asia or anywhere else.
We arrived at the family restaurant at 8 am, we were given a basket, and they dropped us at the local market as commerce was in full swing. We were instructed, “choose the food that you want to cook, and we will show you how to prepare it.”
Naturally, I picked one of everything I had never eaten before and Lisa ensured that we actually had something we could eat for lunch.
We ended up back at the restaurant kitchen with a Barracuda, some huge prawns, some lentils- which the lady found completely odd, a bitter gourd- also odd, some flowers that actually weren’t meant to be eaten- my bad, a bunch of vegetables and a few fruits. The head chef, her grill man, and two sidekicks sprung into action.
We tried to keep up as we snapped pictures and tried to write down recipes. I got to play with a knife and a stove and nobody got hurt. After several awesome missed translations, a few teaspoons of sugar in everything- odd to us, and several good laughs, we ended up with an absolute feast.
To say we ate well in Myanmar would be an understatement. Like many SE Asian countries, growing fresh fruit and vegetables is easy and fresh fish is not hard to find. But this meal was fit for a king! What a great way to experience a place- we got to laugh with the locals and learn something about the dishes and the traditions of the place.
The next day we boarded the old blue jalopy and headed back to plan our next big adventure; back to the USA, the long way.