So how do I get around?
Most people take taxis. Taxi rides within the city usually cost between $3 and $6 USD. Some teachers also choose to ride bicycles.
What do people do for fun?
It seems like there are always plenty of things to do in Yangon. Just walking down the street is an adventure. You will constantly see things that surprise and amaze you--even after you've lived here for a while.
If you are interested in sports, there are softball and volleyball leagues and regular bowling, touch rugby, soccer, badminton, basketball, and ultimate Frisbee games. There are also rowing or crew opportunities available, tennis, a mountain bike group, and the Hash. Golf is quite cheap and for about $2 you can even get a caddy at the driving range! Many hotels also offer dance, aerobics, yoga, or pilates classes.
Guide books say that there is no nightlife here but there is definitely a part of the ex pat community who enjoy socializing. There are very nice high end places to go and there are also dance clubs, pubs or places where more locals hang out. There is plenty of karaoke available!
There are a few smaller art galleries and many places to shop for locally made crafts. Many teachers take Burmese/Myanmar language lessons and there are many opportunities to engage in community service.
What are the travel opportunities within Myanmar like?
Travel within Myanmar is a wonderful experience. You can fly to many places or choose to take a car, bus, or train. Some places are accessible by boat. The main tourist places (Inle Lake, Bagan, Mandalay, beaches) are reasonably easy to get to, while locations such as Putao (up north in the Himalayan foothills) or the Myeik archipelago can be more difficult to reach and may require permits. Any places that might be dangerous will be off limits although at this point, much of the country is open to travel.
What are some of the problems I can expect to face?
There are no McDonald's or Starbucks here which may sound great but be aware that around November you may be getting very tired of Myanmar products. There are a number of very good western restaurants and supermarkets are offering a growing selection of products.
The school will help you obtain a work visa but you need to leave the country to get a new visa every 10 weeks. Unless you have a multiple entry visa, you will need to visit a Myanmar embassy for a new visa every time you leave the country.
Both the country and the school have seen rapid change over the past few years. There are still occasional issues with internet connectivity. Teaching tools (data projectors, document cameras, etc.) and resources are increasingly available at the school but we do not yet have everything.
Will I be able to save money?
Most people do not have trouble saving money here.Taxis around town cost between $3 and $6 and it's less if you share with others. Dinners out tend to cost anywhere from $3-$10. There are other restaurants which offer more expensive food but at a good value, such as a Sunday champagne brunch for $25. Groceries can be very cheap if you buy fresh products at the markets or more expensive if you are buying more western goods like peanut butter or cereal. Obviously, the amount of money you save depends on the amount of energy you spend saving, but many teachers report saving around 30-40% of their salary while eating out regularly and going on vacations during the breaks.
What are some things I should know about adjusting to life in Yangon?
Some people love Myanmar food, others don't. There are many curries and noodle dishes. Some people say it is like Thai food with less spice and Indian food with a lot more oil. There are a number of good Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Japanese restaurants in Yangon. There are also a number of western restaurants here. Chances are good that you will not go hungry. Chicken and mutton is more common than beef, and there is plenty of tasty seafood available. For a country that is supposed to be mostly vegetarian, some vegetarians find it harder to get by in restaurants than they expected. Because eating out is so cheap, many people eat out much more than they eat at home.
While it is possible to find most things that you may need in Yangon, it may be very challenging. You can expect to spend a few hours doing nearly any errand. Things do not happen quickly or easily in Yangon. If you have patience and enjoy a challenge, you will love shopping in Yangon.
The people of Yangon are incredibly friendly and are optimistic about the future of the country. There is virtually no crime against foreigners, and it is rare to have anyone hassle you. There is a saying that if someone is chasing you down the street in Myanmar for money it's probably because they are trying to return some that you dropped.