Archive for May, 2013

Hello Hanoi!

May 9, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well! I arrived in Hanoi last night. The flight and immigrations process was easy and then driving to the hotel was very tense. I didn’t feel unsafe but it was just very chaotic. 20130509_110705There are some lanes but it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. There are a few stop lights but I’m not sure people really care about those either.

Today was an interesting and productive day. I got up early for a meeting. I think the best part of the day was breakfast after the meeting, pictured here. I just said please bring me something delicious and this is what I got. Absolutely it was delicious. After some research it looks like I’m eating Bánh cuốn, a rolled rice “pancake” that is popular for breakfast in northern Vietnam. The ladies working at the restaurant laughed at me when I asked to have this picture taken. 20130509_110220Then they laughed at me again when I squeezed some lime over the pancakes. I quickly learned you are supposed to squeeze the lime into the dipping soup and not onto the pancakes.

I worked for the rest of the day. One stop was to one of the dinkiest smallest supermarkets i’ve ever been in… ever. Some foreigners even came up to me in the store and asked me if I knew of a better supermarket. Nope!

Not yet at least. 20130509_172308It started to rain in the late afternoon and I went back to the hotel and had a work out. The gym is pretty gross. To be honest I expected better facilities from a reputable hotel chain. Now I’m eating spring rolls for dinner and drinking green tea. I’m pretty lonely but still content. I’m looking forward to watching Nashville on my computer tonight. I know it’s really stupid but one of the leads is the mom from Friday Night Lights and she’s so awesome. It’s replaced Gossip Girl as my guilty pleasure. Also looking forward to more work and adventures tomorrow.

Love, Annie


Adios Yangon!

May 7, 2013

Hi Family and Friends,

It’s my last night in Yangon, and I’m pretty excited to get going. 20130507_175719The flight to Hanoi is tomorrow night. It’s pretty hot here, and there is a lot of traffic, and too many people in the gym talking on their cell phones (so annoying!) Tonight it is raining so hard. The end of May is the start of the rainy season here. Yesterday I worked, and today more work.

20130507_155608While this city isn’t a favorite, being here has certainly been an interesting experience. I forgot to mention that at the Pagoda on Sunday, a little girl ran up and just touched my arm. I think she probably hadn’t seen too many white women in her life. In just a few years, Yangon is going to be very different – it’s developing very quickly.

See you from Vietnam!

Love, Annie

Great weekend in Yangon

May 5, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

20130505_125523Saturday and Sunday here in Yangon were great. Yesterday I had a lazy morning and then worked for the rest of the day. I had a meeting and went to an awesome supermarket. The supermarket the day before was pretty dinky so it was a nice surprise. Today, my day off, was a day for exploring.


I walked around the downtown area near my hotel. The first stop was the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue! It was neat to be in a Synagogue in this city. There is still a small Jewish community that goes there! It’s the third coolest thing to visit here according to Trip Advisor.

The synagogue was on the way to Chinatown so I walked around there next. 20130505_132342To be honest I didn’t notice a difference between the areas except that Chinatown was a bit cleaner and less chaotic and there were more signs with Chinese writing than in the surrounding areas. Maybe I was in the wrong place? After that I walked around the river area.

20130505_153703It was actually cloudy today, which was good because it was a bit cooler. After taking a quick break at the hotel to get another bottle of water, I headed out to the Schwegadon Pagoda, the iconic pagoda here in Yangon. Normally it is not recommended to 20130505_150324go to the Schwedagon Pagoda when it’s the middle of the day because you have to be barefoot and the marble floors get Extremely hot, but I went earlier than I had planned due to the cloudy conditions. It was awesome there. I really like these big religious areas.


I walked around for a while and then met a guy that worked in the Pagoda who studied psychology and taught english and also taught people about the Pagoda. He’s from Myanmar countryside. He said that it’s not legal for foreigners to go there. We walked around together and he taught me all sorts of things about the Pagoda and Buddhism in Myanmar.

20130505_154521We figured out that I was born on a Monday, so I made offerings to the Monday Buddha, the moon, and the Tiger, which are all important for people born on a Monday. Additionally, 15 is a good / lucky number for people born on Mondays. The way that you make some offerings is by pouring water a certain amount of times over the Buddha, the lion, the nearby flowers, etc. The offerings are made to bring luck and happiness to all living things. Not bad!

As I mentioned earlier, you have to be barefoot in the Pagoda, not even socks are allowed, so my feet got pretty dirty.

ellis island fam

When I got back to the hotel area, I went to the local market for a snack of a samosa and sour mango and bought some cool maps and posters with Burmese writing on them for my office. Then I had a work out and went to dinner. I just wanted to share this last photo of my parents and brother sailing into NYC! Pretty awesome. My dad has always wanted to sail past Ellis Island so I’m glad they got to do that!

Love, Annie

Happy Friday from Yangon

May 3, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m hanging out at the restaurant eating tofu again, just can’t get enough! I’m eating slowly because i’m taking the time and savor each bite. Today was a nice working day in Yangon.


I got up and had a phone meeting, and then went to work first at the hotel business center and then at one of supermarket areas. It was a pretty small supermarket but had enough variety. This first picture is of my breakfast at a cafe near the hotel. It’s their special noodle soup, I guess you can call this local Burmese cuisine. To be honest it was only okay. 20130503_144909There was chicken, prawns, tofu, and vegetables inside. I had them hold some of the other kinds of meat. But every time I ate a bite of the chicken, I bit into something hard and had to keep spitting it out so I stopped eating the chicken. The prawns were good and of course the tofu was just as tender and delicious as expected.

20130503_144039After the market, I walked back to the hotel. I had taken a taxi to the market because I didn’t know where it was, but it was actually pretty close to the hotel. It was not recommended I walk because it was too sunny but I did it anyway, and sweat a ton. On the way I found some interesting graffiti (pictured above) and checked out the train station, which is in a beautiful building. 20130503_145703From the hotel, I did some more work and when I was done, went for a work out. It was a good one, I ran very fast and got even more sweaty and did some weights. Now I’m at dinner and when I go back to my room i’m going to watch the latest Mad Men, SUPER exciting. The internet in the hotel is good enough to stream videos! I’m excited for tomorrow, another working day.

Love, Annie

Goodbye Chiang Mai, Hello Yangon!

May 2, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m writing this from the Chinese restaurant at my hotel in Yangon, Myanmar.  20130502_164410This Instead of 11 hours ahead of Boston, the time is 10 and a half hours ahead, which is kind of weird. I’m eating Mapo Doufu, one of my favorite dishes in the world. It’s a good one, but not as delicious as the one I ate the night before leaving for survey 😀

20130502_155436This morning, I had two easy flights over here (first to Bangkok and then to Yangon) and found a taxi to the hotel easily. The Yangon airport was pretty nice!

This morning I was driven to the airport in Chiang Mai by the father and daughter I hung out with Tuesday afternoon so that was really nice.

Once I checked into the hotel, I went for a walk around the hotel neighborhood. I noticed a few things. 20130502_161250This city, at least today, feels really foreign and different – i’m not sure how exactly to explain that yet -, and I stick out big time as I walk around so i’ve been getting quite a few looks.

Some of the main things being sold on the street are school textbooks for every grade, custom-made signs, food (of course – fruits, noodles, and fried things) and betel nut. I first heard about betel nut when one of my colleagues went to Papua New Guinea and told us all about how the streets were covered in red splotches, and it wasn’t blood but rather betel nut spit.

20130502_164639Here, it’s sold in little carts on the side of the road rolled up in leaves with some spices. You put the leaf in your mouth and just chew it, I think. It makes people’s teeth look really crazy if they’ve been chewing it for a long time. Do an image search if you dare. After I walked around a market, I went to see a temple but didn’t go in, and then went back to the room. 20130502_164119I had a nice work out (the gym here is better than expected!) and then went to dinner.

Yesterday, I worked in the morning, and then headed to the trendy area of Chiang Mai called Nimman. They have a ton of coffee shops and some other boutiques. Just a note to the reader: pictures above are from Yangon. The picture below is of Chiang Mai. 20130501_142912After walking around Nimman for a while, I went to the old city area and walked around there too. I ate a dish that was kind of like pad see ew. I did a little more work and then went back out to get another massage and dinner. All in all, Thailand was really awesome but as always I’m excited to be in a new place.

Love, Annie