Cabin Crew adventures in Yangon, Myanmar

By Shirley Naing and Nicoleta Gherman

Formerly known as Burma, the diverse country of Myanmar is also called the Golden Country. One of the largest and most prosperous city in Myanmar is Yangon which was a capital city before 2005. If you have a layover, you might hear great stories told by cabin crew members who were especially requesting this flight. They all considered that 48 hours were more than enough to stroll around the precious and semi-precious stone markets and buy the best pieces at very low prices.

“While I was a cabin crew for Qatar Airways, right across from the airport, across the main road I caught the first glimpse of the capital Yangon: the famous golden Shwedagon Pagoda. Actually, during our stay I saw lots of pagodas, all shiny, covered in glittering décor and painted in the four colors of Buddhism:  yellow, red, white and green. As Myanmar is a well-known Buddhist country, there are a lot of famous pagodas all over the country. One of the most popular and largest Pagoda in Yangon is this Shwedagon Pagoda with the 2500 year history, is covered with real gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with real diamonds. I recommend everyone to note that this is a must-visit place in Yangon. As we wandered through the city buildings, we tasted freshly squeezed juices sold by young girls with smeared cheeks. It was like a yellowish-white cosmetic paste circularly applied on each cheek, sometimes on the nose and forehead too, in order to protect their skin from the sun rays. It is called Thanaka and it is a distinctive feature of their culture. What’s interesting is that I did not hear anyone shouting or see angry persons during our stay. All locals seemed like inspiring sentiments of calmness and serenity, maybe due to their Buddhist way of life. If you are in love with sightseeing, I recommend everyone a tour guide to the outskirts of the city, maybe even a trip to the World War II Cemetery in the village of Taukkyan. For sure you will enjoy the one day trip, as you will discover a calm, beautiful corner of Asia.” (Nicoleta Gherman, former Qatar Airways cabin crew)

Shirley Naing, a cabin crew working for the national carrier, Myanmar Airlines was so kind and shared with us even more places which you should visit. “If you are in downtown, you will be enjoyed in Bogyoke Aung San Market, a major tourist destination, dominated by antique, Burmese handicraft and jewelry shops, art galleries, and cultural clothing stores. There are many special cultural souvenirs to enjoy and shopping. Beside these landmarks, I would like to strongly recommend everyone a few restaurants during your stay, like Karaweik restaurant, Sky bistro, and Le Planteur Restaurant. The Karaweik restaurant is located in Kandawgyi lake where you can have a taste of local traditional foods and wonderful cultural live show. In 20th floor of Sakura tower, there is a very nice sightseeing restaurant, Sky Bistro, with a reasonable price delicious foods and an unforgettable scene of half of the city including famous Shwedagon Pagoda. You can also enjoy a drink together with nice music in Yangon Yangon Bar, just in upstairs of Sky Bistro. And, if you prefer a romantic environment and delicious foods especially beef steak, you must have to try at Le Planteur restaurant which is located on University Avenue road. I believe that you won’t regret to have such a memorial and romantic dinner.

There is also an interesting thing: Myanmar peoples’ names are actually coming from the date of what they were born. For example, if you were born on Monday, you belong to the tiger and you will be also named by one of the five alphabets that represent Monday. And you will be praying in the corner of Monday of the Pagoda and so on. In here, I will suggest you make sure what date you were born before you visit pagoda. Another interesting thing is that in Myanmar, there are 7 days in a week, each being represented by a symbol and place in the pagodas.”