2/14/18: Valentine’s Day In Mynamar

I woke up super early today for some reason.

I went downstairs to get breakfast, which included this interesting Shan-style coconut noodle soup. It reminded me a lot of Thailand, and I liked it!

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I chatted with my friends from trekking (Phillipp, Rob, Hannah, Barak) for a while at breakfast, and then went to get headphones. I had lost mine at some point during the trek, so I needed to find new ones. I wasn’t very hopeful that I would find bluetooth headphones since I hadn’t really seen a lot of people in Myanmar with them.

On the way to the electronic store recommended to me by the hostel staff, I ran into Barak, who was exploring the town. We went to the store together, which had exactly one pair of bluetooth headphones. So that made the decision-making easy. Sometimes it’s nice to not have a million choices.

After that unexpected success, we decided to rent bicycles and ride around the lake. We invited everyone else from the trekking group to join us, and after about an hour of everyone got their crap together, we got going around 10:30 am.

We decided to follow the typical bike route recommended by every tour/hostel/bike shop. It was so cute and made me so happy to have the whole group together!

We biked about 40 minutes to our first top: the Tofu Palace.

Now, what is a tofu palace, you ask?

It’s essentially a cafe owned by this genius entrepreneur who saw an opportunity for tourism in his village. He charges a very small amount of money (about $2) to take you on a tour of his village, where they make various kinds of tofu, rice, nut, and chickpea-based snacks. He lets you try a bit of everything, and also gives you a big plate of fried tofu at the beginning of the tour.

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Fried tofu

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Our guide

But the tofu isn’t the soy-based kind that everyone thinks of when you say tofu. Tofu in Myanmar is chickpea-based. You can read more about it here.

The tour around the village took about an hour and a half. We tried rice crackers, sticky rice donuts (SO SWEET), roasted rice (TOO SWEET. I couldn’t finish it. It was just a huge ball of sugar basically), a bunch of different nuts/seeds (sunflower seeds, split peas, peanuts, pumpkin seeds), etc.

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Making donuts
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Rice crackers
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Cute piggy!
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Roasted rice (RIDICULOUSLY SWEET)

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Rice pasta type of thing

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Making chickpea chips
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Chickpea chips (my fave)
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Ladies making chickpea tofu

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Stirring the tofu
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SO MUCH TOFU
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More rice crackers
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Roasted nuts

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It was really cool to see how everyone works together & separately in the village.
Once again, the women were doing all the work. I have no idea where the men were, but they were certainly not in the hot, dark huts, stirring, drying, and cooking the products.
Once the tour was over, we got on a boat to go across the lake. The boat driver somehow managed to get all our bikes on the tiny boat— it was fascinating to watch his Tetris abilities.
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Group shot: pt 1
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pt 2
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Crazy balancing skills!

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We got lunch at a restaurant near the dock we were dropped off at. I got a rice & veggie hot pot and juice. It was surprisingly delicious, considering how random the restaurant was. I guess sometimes you don’t need to check Google or Yelp reviews before entering a restaurant…??!?!

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My lunch

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The restaurant was also filled with couples dining out for Valentine’s Day. There were balloons and everything. The Burmese really love V-Day!
We got back on our bikes to head to Red Mountain View Winery. Apparently the area around Inle Lake has a lot of vineyards.
On the way to the vineyard, I was thinking how insane it is that until this month, I didn’t even know the existence of all the people I’ve met in Myanmar. Starting with Hannah, Arno, and Marlijn, and now the people in my trekking group— Rob, Ollie, Barak, Phillipp—  I’ve met so many amazing people. It makes me excited for what’s to come in Vietnam, but also nervous that I won’t have as much fun or meet as cool of people.
The winery was crowded with couples. There was even a huge heart-shaped bush thing.

The wine, unfortunately, was super mediocre. We tried a sample of each of their four wines— none of them made me want to get a full glass. That said, the winery has a lovely view and is really cheap (the wine flight cost about $3.70).

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So cute!

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Such good views

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Being fancy 
We biked back to the hostel and chilled for a little bit before heading across the street to Namaaste Kitchen for dinner. It was just Hannah, Barak, and I since the others had left to catch night buses to other cities. I got baigan bartha— super delicious!
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We went back to the hostel and up to the rooftop bar for v-day drinks. The hostel was throwing a speed dating party, and it was really funny to watch. I wonder if anyone was actually hoping to find someone to date, or if most people were just doing it for a quick hook up? Or maybe it’s just an easy way to meet everyone (of the opposite sex) at the hostel.
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Whatever the reason, everyone got REALLY drunk over the course of the night. While Barak and I were standing by the bathrooms talking, we witnessed one guy (who was one of my roommates, actually) puking as he made his way to the bathroom. It was funny but gross. His friend was directly behind him, but didn’t see him puke, and then went to the bathroom next to him and puked.
The friend came out of the bathroom post-puke, slipped on his friend’s puke, and then proceeded to yell at him, demanding that he clean up the mess. The puker refused to clean it up, and we all stood there laughing about it for a while. Eventually, a poor soul came and slipped on it banana-peel style, like in the movies. I felt really bad for him. The puker didn’t even immediately tell him that it was his puke. He pretended he didn’t know who it was until eventually he confessed and apologized. The slipper took it really well— he said it was karma for the time he puked on his friend’s shoe.
The rest continued to party (I don’t know how), and Barak and I went to bed around midnight.
Valentine’s Day in Myanmar wasn’t bad at all. We barely talked about it and it was nice being around all my friends.
However, I can’t help but think about how I’ve been single for 4 years now… pretty long time. It’s really been a great four years, focusing on myself but still dating around and learning what I want and going after what I want.
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