Eating ALL THE FOOD in Mandalay

Alright guys, here is a rare food post from us. Rare because Christopher is a human garburator and usually will have eaten half whatever food we’ve ordered before I remember to take a picture of it. However, since the point of this day was to EAT ALL THE FOODS, we managed to get our act together. So here ya go!

Our last morning in Mandalay we decided to go on a rickshaw “Foodies Tour” of the city, mainly because we had heard of a cool tour company called Grasshopper Adventures. They actually specialize in bike tours but since this one consists mainly of eating you get biked around instead. We also got fun bamboo hats to wear, which means I got to take these hilarious pictures of Chris:

Christopher is almost too big for a rickshaw.
Christopher is almost too big for a rickshaw.
Heehee.
Heehee.

Chris got his own rickshaw (I shared with our guide) because he’s obviously larger, especially by Burmese standards I think (we went into a department store and XL shirts were too small around his chest). Anyways, I can’t remember what all the foods were, but here goes. We started the day off with various kinds of fried things, referred to as fritters I think, basically made from different vegetables.

Lotsa fritters.
Lotsa fritters.

We then got some mohinga, which is a kind of rice noodle and fish soup the Burmese eat for breakfast, and largely consider to be their national dish.

Mohinga for breakfast.
Mohinga for breakfast.

After this we went to a local market, where I got my face painted with the yellow thanaka bark paste that all the women and children here wear. Our guide explained that it is worn as a cosmetic, as well as for sun protection. All children sport it, though boys eventually reach their teens and become “too cool”, while girls continue wearing it like we wear makeup (apparently the general opinion is if you leave your house in the morning without thanaka on, you are probably lazy). Guys sometimes wear it at home, but most won’t wear it out in public otherwise people will think they are weak or something.

Getting done up with Thanaka.
Getting done up with Thanaka.
Rockin' it like the locals do.
Rockin’ it like the locals do.

After that we wandered around the market and ate a lot of delicious things that I don’t remember the names of. They were mostly sweet things made with various combinations of rice, coconut, and palm sugar, which was pretty great considering I have a pretty uncontrollable sweet tooth.

Delicious rice coconut palm sugar things.
Delicious rice coconut palm sugar things.
Various cakes.
Various cakes.

We also saw a lot of produce, a kind of scary (by Western standards, i.e. no refrigeration or gloves or anything) meat market, and finally learned how they prepare betel nut here.

City market in Mandalay.
City market in Mandalay.
Tomatoes for sale.
Tomatoes for sale.

Next we went for the famed tea leaf salad. I did not know you could make salad from tea leaves, but apparently you can, and there are various types, and they are very delicious. We sample a few and went with the “regular” i.e. least spicy one.

Tea leaf sampler.
Tea leaf sampler.

We penultimately hit up a bustling tea shop for noodles and super sweet Burmese milk tea, my favourite. All the TVs were playing British Premier League football, which our guide informed us is by far the most popular sport here (unless you also count illegally betting on football matches). Unfortunately the government has a habit of shutting down public parks to put up buildings, so many people play a game called caneball instead. Caneball is a traditional Burmese sport which I think is sort of like hacky sack or juggling a soccer ball with your friends, except with a rattan wiffle ball-like thing instead. Mostly everyone stands in a circle and tries to keep the ball up with their non-arm body parts, although you can also play in teams with a small net in the middle. In return we tried to explain North American football to him, and we all agreed it’s kind of a dumb sport.

Rickshaw ridin' with our guide.
Rickshaw ridin’ with our guide.

Lastly, we stopped at a local juice stand for some fresh dragonfruit + orange and mango + pineapple juice while we just cooled off in the shade and chatted with our guide.

Freshly squeezed fruit juice.
Freshly squeezed fruit juice.

All full from the food, we headed to the mall because we had a couple of hours to kill before our night bus to Inle Lake and Chris insisted we use them to watch a terrible movie (Hitman: Agent 47). At least the movies in Myanmar are super cheap (less that $3.50 for the love seats at the back of the theatre, the most expensive seats), although the etiquette is quite different (everyone stands for the national anthem at the start of the movie, and apparently it’s totally normal to answer your phone or spit an entire bag on sunflower seeds onto the floor during the film). As we were leaving, we saw a talent show that was some kind of product launch for some phones… kinda weird. After that, it was on to Inle Lake!

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