The internet has made the world so much smaller.
I got an email from a charming lady from London recently. She'd been googling Zeygo market because she was coming to Myanmar with a small tour group. She stumbled upon my blog and not only took the time to read it, she emailed me about it.
After a couple of email exchanges, we agreed to meet up when she was in Mandalay. I'm so glad that we did!
We agreed that I'd pick up Dorothy and her friends Diana and Miki at their hotel at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday evening. I must confess, as the day progressed, I was not looking forward to it. My Friday evenings are usually dedicated to being a sloth and relaxing after a tiring week. Having said that, I knew that once we met and got out, I knew we'd have a good time. I was right.
Another teacher and I met the ladies at their hotel and we planned our evening. I was a bit concerned that they had passed on their group tour of U Bein Bridge and dinner to spend the evening with us. Especially since we weren't taking them to the tourist sites, but rather to the places that we go to regularly.
We started at Mingular market, the produce/wet market where I buy most of my food. We wandered around and tasted some of the local fruits. Miki and I agreed that dragon fruit is a big damn disappointment. It is beautiful and has an exotic and misleading name, since it is one of the blandest fruits you can find. Dorothy was impressed, as I am, with the Mandarin oranges, which are relatively cheap and plentiful here.
Our next stop was a quick one at Gandamar market, which is a local grocery store. Dorothy was interested in buying some soap for souvenirs and I've bought thanaka soap there. Less than a dollar, smells like sandalwood and foams up nicely.
Next we headed to our primary goal - Style Star, the salon where I go at least once a week. It was busy on a Friday night but we each got a treatment fairly quickly. Three of us went for the shampoo/shoulder and arm massage and blow dry. Two of us opted for the foot/leg scrubbing and massage. The hotel where the ladies stayed charged $70 for a foot massage. Style Star, which is for locals rather than tourists charges $6.50. The shampoo/massages were $2.50. The ladies seemed quite pleased and seemed to really enjoy the pampering and local experience.
To top off the evening we headed to Joy Garden on 62nd St., near 35 to have a Myanmar dinner. Rather than ordering from the menu, we went for the barbecue. We chose the sticks of stuff we wanted - paneer cheese, okra, spring onions, goat, chicken, pork, spicy fish in banana leaves, a whole fish, lotus root and more, along with a bottle of white wine, some sodas and a beer for $35. Our visitors generously paid for dinner. The food and the conversation were terrific.
I so enjoyed meeting these ladies. We found so many things in common. We had so many common interests. Intelligent conversation. The serendipity of spending time with like-minded strangers. I'm sorry we only had a few hours together. They each generously offered to host me at their homes in London. I hope they realize I was very serious when I said I'd take them up on it. I'm already checking dates and flights. Really, 70 countries and I've never been to England? I have to correct that. Having new friends there will just make it better.