Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy holidays from Myanmar!

Mingalaba! Hello from Myanmar! I've had an awesome past few weeks travelling around Southeast Asia with my family, but unfortunately haven't gotten around to writing about any of it (we've been up to lots and there hasn't been a whole lot of time to sit around and blog...not to mention the ubiquitously sketchy wifi). I definitely have some catching up to do, but for the time being here are a few interesting things we've seen in Myanmar.

1.  bare feet -- Nothing will toughen up your soles like touring the pagodas and monasteries of Myanmar. Shoes and socks are not permitted in these compounds, which in some cases makes for challenging walking over dusty and crumbling terrain. I think we've spent more time with our shoes off than on in this country (but at least we don't have to worry about sandal tans).
no shoes myanmar
2.  longyis -- Standard attire in Myanmar is the longyi, a piece of fabric similar to a sarong that is worn instead of pants. Men tie them in the front and women at the side. They can be incredibly beautiful and we're on the lookout to buy a couple to take home.
myanmar longyi
3.  crisp USD -- In addition to the Burmese kyat, almost every business accepts (or prefers) US dollars. Not any USD though. Only perfectly crisp ones. We've had an annoying number of perfectly fine bills rejected because they'd been folded once in the centre.
4.  right-hand-drive vehicles -- Unlike other Southeast Asian former British colonies, where vehicles are RHD and people drive on the left side of the road, Myanmar has a mix of RHD and LHD vehicles (RHD still being more common), but people drive on the right side of the road -- pretty impractical for overtaking!
5.  dogs -- I've never seen so many stray dogs as I have in Myanmar. Including some of the cutest puppies!
dogs myanmar
four dogs & a pony
6.  betel nuts -- Don't be surprised if someone flashes a blood red grin while you're walking down the street in Myanmar. They just have a cheekful of betel nut pulp, which everyone seems to chew here. Beware the red gobs on the sidewalks.
betel nut myanmar
betel nut preparation -- nuts and calcium carbonate are wrapped neatly in leaves and the whole thing is chewed for a mild stimulant effect
7.  thanaka -- It's common in Myanmar to see women and occasionally men with a white-yellow paste on their faces. This is made from the bark of the thanaka tree and serves as a cosmetic, sunscreen, and skin care product.
thanaka myanmar
thanaka (source)

Happy holidays! I hope everyone is getting to enjoy a bit of a break. Although my family doesn't really celebrate Christmas, it was fun to see how people celebrate it in this part of the world. I'll leave you with a few unique Christmas trees we came across on Samosir Island in Sumatra, Indonesia:
samosir island christmas tree
indonesian christmas tree
sumatra christmas tree
recycled christmas tree
cd christmas tree


  1. I've never been to Myanmar, so this was an especially interesting read! :] Thank you for sharing, and I hope you had a wonderful holiday! I wonder why they like crisp dollar bills so much? :O

    1. It was wonderful, thanks :) About the crisp bills, I'm not really sure!


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