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You’ve been stuck for quite some time in Rangoon when you..

November 8, 2008
  • Start looking for names of shops and streets, meals that you want to oder and checking your bills by actually reading them (which are always in Burmese characters)
  • Can memorize the important three different government objectives
  • Stop caring about the impact of local national politics on your daily life as long as your business is making good profits
  • Can correctly match, memorize, pronounce, spell and write the names of your Burmese friends at least in Latin character
  • Are an alien, you get as paranoid as James Jesus Angleton back in 1960s
  • Know the word “Nai-ngan-char-thar” means you, the person who comes from foreign land
  • Can correct English subtitling and/or translation from a Burmese-speaking speech and/or document
  • Lug around a hefty amount of 1,000 Kyat bills for the equivalent of US$ 20 (and I don’t want to start with Euro or Pound equivalent, it does get heftier)
  • Get used to “cash-only-transaction-system” for any transaction deal, from paying your bottle of beer down to annual school fee of your kids
  • Are a man, you taught yourself to properly tie your “longyi” around your waist, though you might put on shorts underneath, while as a woman you start wearing a ready-made “longyi” or a two-piece set
  • As a woman, you start applying “thanakha”, a powder made from the bark of a tree, on both sides of your cheeks to avoid sunburns
  • Get used to the tonal Burminglish accent and notice that they do mix English and Burmese the way Malaysians and Indians do
  • Get used to naked feet at the office
  • Voluntarily report yourself to the nearest “Authority” when you sleep over at a friend’s house, simply because you understand the consequences
  • Visit the “Bogyoke Market” aka “The Scotch Market” for at least once during the weekend to get your gift list done on longyi/jewellery/t-shirt/stone and whatsnots
  • Had at least a bowl of “Mohinga” for breakfast
  • Had a cup of “Burmese Tea” in a local tea shop, make your way to your regular shop and are being picky about the best time to go
  • By pass banned web sites using one of those state-of-the-art softwares
  • Had either or both lunch and dinner at the top floor of “Sakura Tower” downtown
This is the daytime view from "Sky Bistro" at Sakura Tower.

This is the daytime view from “Sky Bistro” at Sakura Tower.

  • Automatically take off your footwear before entering any place with roofs on top
  • Know that there is a scheduled party at the British Club every first Friday of the month
  • Walk at night, you don’t need flashlight anymore because you know exactly where the potholes are
  • Realized that Yangonites don’t really prowl the street at night due to you-know-what and you-know-who
  • Stuff your lunch in a “tiffin carrier” made of stainless steel
  • Love your pair of black/brown/maroon velvet sandals the size of Liliput feet
  • Found your way between the 29th and 30th street under the direction of English-speaking Burmese through your cellular phone
  • Choose “City Mart” instead of “Blazon” and bought the green plastic-woven bag in place of the plastic bag
  • Find “Sharky’s” as your safe bet when it comes to bread, yoghurt, cheese and wine
  • Have visited “Shwedagon Pagoda” at two different times of the day
Shwedagon Paya (pagoda) is the largest Buddhist pagoda complex in Myanmar (Burma).

Shwedagon Paya (pagoda) is the largest Buddhist pagoda complex in Myanmar (Burma).

  • Have stayed at “Trader’s Hotel” for a night or two
  • Know what “FEC” means and find yourself using it
  • Set your goal to buy ruby, jade and gold in certified jewelery stores
  • Paid US$ 1,500 to personally own a GSM SIM card for your cellular phone
  • Resort to “Skype” when any other means of communications failed
  • Your steering wheel is on the right, yet you’re driving on a left-hand traffic (if you actually drive, go figure)
  • Know the meaning of “The Lady”
  • Have been to Bagan and Mandalay at least once
  • Tolerate and even subscribe yourself to “Myanmar Times” and read “The New Light of Myanmar” every now and then
  • Start smoking or at least tried “London” cigarettes
  • Pay 2,000 Kyats to any direction using the worn-out taxi
  • Believe that “Myanmar Beer” is the best beer in the world
  • Have a gasoline ration book to claim your 2 gallons of gasoline ration at appointed gas station
  • Don’t have to queue for at least an hour at the appointed gas station, that means the gasoline price in black market is lower than the legal market (for that day)
  • Become used to random checkpoints after 11 PM in some main roads
  • Know that each day is represented by one specific animal and you know what is yours in English
  • Know that Burmese calendar has horoscope prediction
  • Enjoy canoeing despite the light drizzle on weekend morning in Inya Lake
  • Can live with the strong stench of sewer in the downtown area
  • Savored a bit of real Burmese food at “Feel” restaurant near the French and Indonesian embassy
  • Gathered enough guts to actually chew betel nut and spit like a native 😉
  • Collect those ugly-ready-to-crumble Kyats bills as a donation to beggars
  • Know the perfect Internet cafe with friendly rates for public “Skype-to-Phone Call”
  • Have paid at least a visit to the Delta of Irrawaddy
  • Know the meaning of “Myanmar One”
  • Have taken a ferry trip to go across Rangoon River
  • Have been on board a boat to reach different townships outside Rangoon
  • Know what Irrawaddy Dolphin is and have most probably seen one down the river
  • Have read Orwell’s “Burmese Days” before arriving to the country
  • Know the meaning of “Kandawgyi”
  • Know that there is a lovely bar down at 50th Street
  • Know where and what the center of Rangoon is and its relation with the city grid system
The British Administration decided to rearrange Rangoon using a "grid system" and use Sule Paya (pagoda) as the center of the axis. To the left is the "National Monument".

The British Administration decided to rearrange Rangoon using a “grid system” and use Sule Paya (pagoda) as the center of the axis. To the left is the “National Monument”.

  • Know why Burma is called “The Golden Land”
  • Sneer at the shopkeeper in Bogyoke Market who assured you that the home decor accessories they are selling are covered in real gold
  • Know that there is such thing as “The Air Force Museum” that only opens for public on “Army Day” in March
  • Start calling yourself a “Yangonite”
  • Realize that when you see a murder of crows, you are not in the “Tower of London”
  • Know the color difference of local license plates: black, black with a star, red and yellow
  • Know that “Dagon”, “Rangoon” and “Yangon” are all the same thing
  • Survived the Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and decided to stay
  • Relocate your whole family over here and try to talk your friends into joining you..

And I’ve been mistakenly thought as a Scottish/Italian/Filipino/Iranian/Spanish, but didn’t even pass to enter Shwedagon Pagoda for free as locals do 😉

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