Today’s breakfast was a nice break from the usual toast and jam. They gave us a couple samosas (plus some bread and fruit).
I went to the same electronic store as yesterday to help Hannah get a new phone. She had dropped her phone in the water-filled boat a couple days before and totally destroyed it. There were SO many employees helping us out. It started with one girl, and then quickly grew to five. This always seems to happen in Myanmar; you go into a shop or restaurant, ask for help, and soon the entire staff is helping you. These girls were really nice, though— Hannah got a free screen protector, case, and SIM card top-up.
Fancy new $60 smart phone in hand, we went to Mingalar Market, a huge market selling fruits & vegetables, snacks, and souvenirs. It was cool to see all the products that we had seen yesterday at Tofu Palace on sale from various vendors.
I went to get a massage while Hannah went back to the hostel to set up her phone. I was greeted by a really nice lady who PILED about 7 cookies on a plate and handed them to me, along with tea and chickpea chips. I didn’t eat the cookies since I was 99.9% sure they were not vegan, but she kept pointing them out to me and telling me to eat them. I politely declined and ate the chickpea chips instead.
Eventually the masseuse was ready so I went inside the room for the massage. I got a traditional Burmese massage. It was my first one using oil— I thought my skin would react badly to it so I was worried, but I was fine and it actually felt really nice.
After the massage, I came back out and was promptly handed another round of tea and snacks. The same lady kept pointing at the cookies and telling me to eat, and I continued to politely decline. I felt a bit bad, but I also told myself that I shouldn’t be forced into eating anything I don’t want to, vegan or not.
She eventually lifted the plate, picked up a cookie, and personally handed it to me. At that point, it would have been really rude to not accept so I took it and ate a bite. Satisfied, she walked back to the other table. I set the cookie down, paid for the massage, and left to meet Hannah for lunch.
We went to an Indian place called Innlay Hut, aka Stan’s Place. It is INFAMOUS in Inle Lake. It’s owned by this crazy Eminem fan who decorated the restaurant with Eminem mementos and quotes, and plays only Eminem music. He even tries to emulate the same mannerisms as Eminem (or at least what he imagines Eminem would do, like walking with a limp & sticking out his chest and hitting it whenever he spoke).
I ordered banana juice, saag aloo, and rice, and asked for no butter. He then asked me if I was veGUUUN. Like, he doesn’t say vegan. He says veeGUUUUN. Really loud. So the whole restaurant can hear.
I have to give him some credit though. He was really nice about it and told me he’d make me something veGUUN since he uses a lot of cream and butter. He also scolded me for not telling him sooner, and I couldn’t if he was angry or happy to accommodate me because he talks so aggressively no matter what he is saying (because, you know, he’s Eminem).
A few minutes after ordering, he asked if I’m allergic to cashews. I told him yes, and then he said I’d have to order something else cause saag aloo without cashews isn’t good. I got Chana masala instead, and he told me he’d put some potatoes in there for me (saag aloo has a lot of potatoes). I really appreciated how flexible and accommodating he was being for me. I was also amazed that he cooks all the food himself.
The food came and it was actually really good. There was so much of it though— I ate about half and asked him to box the rest plus more rice so I could eat on the bus.
He didn’t charge me for the extra rice, which was super nice. So the total came out to 3500 kyat ($2.60), which is just about the cheapest lunch and dinner combo ever.
We chilled back at the hostel for a few hours, and around 4 pm I went with Hannah to find a coconut. I had been craving one all day.
We went back to Mingalar Market. All the vendors were closing up, but we luckily found one selling coconuts. This lady’s coconuts were HUUUUUGEEE!! Like, 2 times the size of my head huge. It took her about 20 minutes to open the coconuts with her machete.
We walked back to the hostel with the obnoxiously big coconuts and got a lot of stares.
Satisfied with my fill of delicious nut of the coco, I got ready to catch the bus. I would be leaving for Yangon tonight.
I said bye to Barak, and then bye to Hannah. I was so sad saying bye to Hannah. We had been traveling together for 3 weeks, and it had been a really amazing 3 weeks. We never once argued; we got along so well, it was pretty incredible. Now I was going to be alone again for the first time in about a month. Ah!
It also sucks because I don’t know when or if I’ll ever see her again. That’s what’s really hard about solo travel and backpacking in general. You make all these great, real friendships, but you never know if you’ll see each other again beyond those short few days or weeks.
I got on the bus around 6 pm and we drove for about an hour before we came to a rest stop. This place was HUGE and absolutely packed with people. I didn’t buy anything because the food didn’t look too appetizing, plus I had Eminem’s curry to eat.
We got back on the bus and I basically slept the rest of the way. The seats didn’t really recline that much and the foot rest didn’t work, so it wasn’t the most comfortable, but we at least got blankets. And the bus was mostly occupied by tourists so there were no betel nut spitters on this trip, thank GOD.