Monday, January 29, 2018

Three to Taungoo

I'm interrupting the chronicle of my USA-New Zealand trip to bring you the story of what I did a week ago today.
It was a cool January morning when two friends and I got on the bus from Yangon to Taungoo. Our goals were two fold: drink palm toddy and eat mice. 

Actually, these goals were Chris's, the silver-haired Englishman you'll see in the video. He was the one who had the hankering for drinking the native potable and munching on vermin. As for Barbara, she's a regular in Taungoo.
Eating mice... or rat.
She worked there before coming to Yangon and knows the place well. Me, it sounded like a fun weekend out of the banality of Yangon, and so off I went. 

If you're really keen on my videos, you'll remember that I've been to Taungoo before. Twice, in fact. I passed through east to west on the first motorcycle journey and again north to south on the second. Taungoo (Taung means mountain; I dunno what oo means) is a small city with a long history. Like many, many other cities in Myanmar, Taungoo is a former capital.

From the 13th to 17th centuries, it was the seat of an empire that had its ups and downs, but at its height was the largest kingdom this part of SE Asia had ever seen. Except for the moat and some buried city walls, not much remains of Taungoo's history.  

After settling in at the hotel, it was off to find some toddy! Now, I am well familiar with alcoholic beverages made from the palm tree. In Indonesia, arak is a popular beverage out in the countryside and it really packs a punch.
When we found our toddy-shack on the side of the highway, I was surprised at the very mild taste of the Myanmar version. No stronger than beer. After a tour showing how the beverage is harvested, I learned why. This toddy was no more than the sap of the palm tree with some water and sugar and fermented from that very morning. Aged 10 hours. The Indonesian arak is actually distilled. Anyways, the Myanmar stuff was sweet, cold and delicious.

Fruit of the palm tree

What to pair with your tree juice? Rodentia! No sauces or overpowering spiciness to get in the way, the mouse/rat (I was never clear on which animal I was eating) was served fried with a bit of oil. I liked it. It's one of the few animals I've eaten with which you also eat the delicate bones. 

Enjoy the video. It begins with a good-bye to Elliot Bruce Castro.



  1. That was a neat weekend! Was that an empty party bus? On day one, you were in a car. Did you have a driver, or did one of your friends drive? Can we go there when we come? I think they were rats, because mice are much smaller.

    1. That was a regular, inter-city bus. It just happened to be half-empty. We hired a car when we got there. Of course we can go there!



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