Need a brilliant guide/driver in Mandalay, Myanmar?

As we got off the bus in from Mandalay airport, on our first ever visit to Myanmar, there was a crowd of taxi drivers waiting to greet the arriving bus.

We selected a driver purely on instinct, and boy oh boy did we make an excellent choice.

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Introducing William Thein Soe, a very safe and competent driver, and his absolutely adorable wife Colleen who, for the duration of our stay, travelled with us in the car driven by her husband, dispensing information and conversation and humour and anecdotes, along with wet wipes and snacks and tissues and bottles of water.

We hadn’t requested any of this, but Colleen had an apparently endless supply of treats, and so every time we collapsed back in the car, hot and a bit dusty, there would be water and a wet wipe and food if she felt we looked hungry.

Too fabulous.

They both speak good English – Colleen especially – and they both worked for many years in Singapore.  They make a great team, explaining and informing, but never overloading you with information, and never ever over-stepping any boundaries.

Never once did they suggest we shop, or visit a particular restaurant.  They were both uber-polite, dignified and totally trustworthy.  They added to our enjoyment, honestly and truly.

It was an absolute pleasure being with them, and I would recommend them without hesitation.

Their details are below:

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They don’t have a fixed tariff (well, they didn’t then), so decide each day what you want to do, where you want to go, and fix a rate with them.  We averaged $30-35 a day (one day was even more because we did so much more), and we never begrudged them a penny.  Such charming, helpful, un-pushy, friendly people deserve to be remunerated and encouraged.

I wish them both well, and would definitely call them on a subsequent trip to Mandalay.

Personally recommended.

Rangoon Tea House, Yangon, Myanmar

On an all-too rushed inaugural visit to Myanmar, we managed to squeeze in a visit to this recently opened tea house in Yangon, for a refreshing cold drink and a welcome break from pounding the city streets in the hot February sun.

Hubby stuck to Coke, so nothing new to report there.

I had a truly excellent papaya smoothie, but it was Anjali who won the award for being the most adventurous (& authentic) with her iced tea, Myanmar style – ie with lashings of condensed milk AND evaporated milk.  There was a whole menu of various local iced teas to choose from, with cute drawings illustrating the ratio of condensed milk and evaporated milk to tea.

Anjali declared hers to be delicious.  I had a sip and it was good – strong tea flavour and nice and sweet.

The decor is charming, with a few curios (but not too many) and lots of space between tables, making the tea house feel spacious.

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I realise that the photo (above) might make it look as though the Rangoon Tea house is patronised only by foreigners, but this is far from the truth.  We arrived a little before noon, but within half an hour the place was full, with a mix of local Yangon youngsters and foreigners, both expats and visitors like us.

They have got their classy, elegant merchandising organised right from the start.

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Good service.  Good standard of spoken English from the youngsters working there (not at all a given, we discovered, as we travelled through this gorgeous country).  Clean loo.

Cute place.

Next time (& there will be a next time, and soon, I hope) we will eat there, too.

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At roughly 1000 Kyat to the US$ this cost us $7.

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The address and phone number of the tea house are on the bill, above.

Personally recommended –  for drinks and charm.

And no, I didn’t tell them I write reviews and blog, and yes, of course, we paid our own bill.