So, my month in Yangon have been fruitful and I by going to random events I’m slowly forming a steady circle of friends – as I’ve been putting myself out there again. I also met people who share the same opinion that it is not particularly easy to find and stay in touch with people one likes in Yangon.
Weird expat community
I am still convinced that expats who are living here must have similar mindset, if they chose to come and stay in Myanmar. It’s not the most comfortable place to live. Simple situations could be challenging. It is certainly not a part of a normal career path. So that’s why I think all expats are here for a reason – to help the country develop, to contribute building businesses, bring technology, establish tourism (I’d like to see it all done in a sustainable way, but unfortunately there are people who are here to exploit all these options for profit only). Everyone must be enchanted by the country, by its people, by its weirdness, no? So why, when there are so many like-minded people, is it so difficult to find them?
Here are few of my suggestions:
- We are scattered around the city, living in different townships, so we necessarily don’t come across one another, which is also difficult to set a meeting point – transport could be horrific
- Social scene is undeniably weak: as an example, there was this Yacht party the other Saturday and when coming to the venue we had to ask: is it here where the party is happening?! It was sadly super empty and the music, although it was live and nice, was not something one would dance to (James Blunt is good for romantic dates, but not for a girls’ night out!)
- Ad point above: there are only handful places one can go out and sometimes you know what it is going to be all about. 7th Joint, The Penthouse, just to name few of them.
- Finally, not everyone is here for a noble reason, so there is this big gap between good-doers, NGO runners, diplomats, wife of diplomats, businessmen and tourists passing by. So find two individuals who are sharing similar values, want to do similar things and live close by could be a challenge.
However, there is quite a few interesting things going on! And I believe it will pick up when the rainy season is over. Below is the list of events and groups through which I have reached to meet new friends, to find information about life in Yangon or to get inspired for travelling.
Organised regular meet-ups in Yangon
Through Yangon Internations and Yangon Expat Connection Google Group (there one needs to write to request the access) one can find events, ideas, help with moving, etc.
Yangon Toastmasters – for improving your public speaking skills. I’ve been to only one of their events and it seems worth checking out. Unfortunately, they meet every second Wednesday and I have my Burmese class.
Bike World Myanmar – they organise Sundays’ bike trips to the neighbouring areas of Yangon and beyond and they also sell TREK mountain bikes and run a little B&B
Yangon Hash House Harriers – they similarly organise regular sport meetings: running on Friday or Saturday in random locations in and around Yangon
Free Yangon Walks – free/tip-based walking tours in downtown Yangon every Wednesday and Sunday (I like being a tourist in my city, don’t you?!)
Couchsurfing meet-up events – even for people who are not part of the CS community, there is a regular meet-up downtown in B20 Bar & Bistro on the 20th street every Saturday
Monday Latino film nights on Mondays at the French Institute
Local artists’ exhibitions at Myanm/art
I think at this point everyone coming to Myanmar could contribute a little to sustainable development of the country. There are few social enterprises around trying to employ socially disadvantaged people, grow local businesses or create a pleasant environment, where everyone is benefiting.
Mya Chemical Free – a chemical-free grown veggies&fruits with delivery to Yangon
Linkage restaurant – a restaurant that employs homeless children and trains them in the business
Uncharted Horizons – tour operator, organising bike and trekking trips to unusual parts of the country and supporting the local communities
Proximity Designs – a social enterprise, supporting technological development in rural areas of Myanmar
Pomelo for Myanmar – a fair-trade shop with hand-made stuff from all over Myanmar. A bit pricey, but worth a look!
Yangon Yoga House – does this an explanation why it is on the list? 🙂
Exploring the café and restaurant scene
My favourites so far (all offer vegetarian food!):