Five Interesting Things in Myanmar

Mingalaba MYANMAR!
Myanmar (Burma) is absolutely one of the most must-visit and undiscovered countries in the world. I strongly recommend you should travel to Myanmar if you ever have a chance to set foot on Asia. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or any other countries that have been already affected by the booming of the globalization in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is truly a local destination full of mysteries unexplored. Having just connected to the outside world after 50 years isolated, this golden land is like a charming princess moving out from the castle for the first time.
This article covers the most fascinating things that I have ever seen during my adventure in this beautiful country - Myanmar. 

#1 People are deadly addicted to betel nuts
When you arrive in Myanmar, I'm pretty sure that you will be first impressed by the Burmese spitting out red saliva with their teeth stained black. Don't be shocked at it! If you drink tea or coffee, people here chew betel nuts. Betel nuts are actually betel quids which are the combination of areca nuts, lime, cinnamon and sometimes tobacco all wrapped in a betel leaf. Betel nuts are sold in almost every vendor along the sidewalks in Myanmar, so why don't you try integrating into the local culture by dying your teeth red and painting the ground red with betel stains? 

Betel chewing and mosquito hunting
Burmese monk chewing on betel nuts. Photo by Rico Schiekel via flickr.com

#2 People put an exotic paste on face 
Whenever I was asked to unfold my Myanmar travel story, I always kicked off with a wonderful Burmese cosmetic named Thanakha and never felt frustrated with digging into it millions of times. It killed me when I first saw Burmese men and women having such yellow paste on their cheeks and foreheads. An outburst of curiosity inside me was all of a sudden transformed into action. I approached the locals and finally got taken to a small house where the Burmese were continually grinding the bark of a Thanakha tree on a huge, flat and thick piece of stone called Kyauk pyin. Thanakha cream is used not only for beauty purpose but also as a perfect sun protector. It is truly a great souvenir that you can bring home.

The little girl I met in Burma. Photo by me

#3 Traffic in Myanmar is strange
To be honest, traffic in some countries in Southeast Asia is really exciting to see. If Vietnam makes you feel overwhelmed with their tons of scooters sticking around pedestrians, Myanmar will definitely get you astonished by their rule of the traffic game! Burmese people have right-hand steering since their country used to be a British colony, and they used to drive on the left side of the road; However, in these days they drive on the right side! I heard from the locals that the Prime Minister of Burma made that change because he had a dream the country could be developed after switching the directions. If it was true, it would not be so reasonable. All in all, you should be very careful if you ever have thought of joining in this confusing traffic.

Yangon city from our Millenium hotel
Yangon city. Photo by Ben via flickr.com

#4 Burmese men wear skirts
As soon as I landed at Yangon International Airport, I was exceedingly surprised at Myanmarese men wearing skirts. I could not help but stick my eyes on their amazing national costume. I loved it, trying to find out what it is, and eventually, I got the answer which is Longyi. When the men's longyi(es) were loose, I saw they quickly wrap the sheet again and bundle the knot in front tight. If Scottish men wear kilts, and Sri Lankan men tie sarongs, then men in Burma put on Longyi. Longyi is common that way. Longyi is a sheet of fabric wrapped around the waist, running to the feet. While women often have colorful Longyi(es), men choose plaid patterns. 

the longyi of burma
Burmese men wearing Longyi. Photo by David Pham via flickr.com

#5 There are giraffe women in Eastern Burma
It is exactly what Daily Mail (Dailymail.co.uk) called Kayan women in Kayah State. If you ever drop by Mae Hong Song province in Thailand - the border area with Myanmar, you could hardly forget the image of women wearing a lot of heavy brass neck bands. They are Kayan residents moving to Thailand and spreading some Myanmarese scent with a long-standing traditional beauty of the brass neck coils. There are some interesting myths I was told about this culture: Kayan girls started to wear one band at age 5 and they continued to put another one on when a year passed by. The more rings they put on, the longer their necks become. Besides regarded as a sign of jewelry, the bands are used to keep the women away from dangerous animals and men coming from other tribes. Any woman who betrayed their husband had to remove the neck rings, which is seriously a harsh punishment. I don't know whether it is true when people told me that women's neck loaded with these rings will break off once they remove them away. Sounds so scary, doesn't it?

DSC_0752
Kayan woman. Photo by Valentina Armenise via flickr.com



Comments

  1. So interesting to learn about a new culture. I also love to travel, though it is more stateside. Thank you for sharing what you observed!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) You're right! Traveling is so much fun especially when it comes to getting to know about the new cultures.

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  2. I haven't visited Asia yet, but there are so many amazing countries to see! I have seen the photos of women wearing brass neck coils before, but had no idea that they start to wear them that young.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Asia is full of mysteries tbh. You should put it into the bucket list whenever you plan to travel abroad:)

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  3. My parents went there a few years back and had similar things to say about it! I hope to visit some day :)

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes, visit Myanmar before its getting changed!:)

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  4. I love learning about new customs, the betel nuts are very interesting. At first I thought it was a different spelling for beetle, tho.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Haha yeah the betel nuts are actually very interesting and common in some Asian countries.

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  5. Myanmar is just next to India but I didn't got chance to explore yet. Interesting to know about it. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Traveling to Myanmar is really amazing tbh

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  6. Sounds like you had lots of fun there!I enjoyed reading post of different adventures and cultures. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope to visit Burma someday!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yup! My trip to Myanmar is so memorable. Hope you will get there soon ^^

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  7. I wanna try Bethel nuts when I visit this place, spitting out red saliva with my black stained teeth. lol

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Haha yeah it'd be a really cool experience that you'll ever have in life.

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  8. Definitely seems like an interesting place to visit. I love the Longyi, but I think I'd definitely stay far from the Betel nuts. And the neck rings - I imagine after having worn them so long, having to take them off would be a strong punishment indeed! The muscles in the neck probably lose their purpose with the rings holding up the head in that way. They are beautiful to look at though.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) At first I found the betel nuts pretty scary but they turned out not bad. And yeah you're right about the neck rings! I was really surprised to see the women with these heavy brass bands.

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  9. Love learning about different cultures. I bet the skirts the men wear keep them cooler than pants

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Haha I think so!

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  10. I've been to Hong Kong & Singapore, so maybe I will have a chance to also visit Myanmar some day. At first I was confused about giraffe women but your explanation was perfect, although it must be very uncomfortable.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes! I strongly recommend you visit Myanmar before its unique traits fade away because of the globalization. And yes, you're right. It must be very uncomfortable to wear these coils but I think the women there already got used to those.

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  11. So many unique customs - thank you for sharing your trip with us. It's an amazing country.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes it's one of the most marvelous countries in the world tbh

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  12. This would be so interesting to see. I always enjoy seeing how other people live.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) and yeah me too!!

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  13. Wow this was such an interesting post. I learned a lot. Your description of Myanmar in the beginning was great by the way...It really pulled me in. And so does that mean that people there drive on both sides of the road?? lol.

    Lauren
    WWW.TheZenFashionista.Com

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Haha not both sides. Nowadays, they have right-hand steering but they drive on the right side of the road.

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  14. This is absolutely fascinating. I've always wanted to travel around the globe to see places just like this. I find it interesting that men wear skirts.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes! I was very impressed by that when I was there.

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  15. I love learning about different cultures. I love to travel this place some day. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes Myanmar is definitely a great destination to drop by!

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  16. A friend, who has traveled a lot in that part of the world, just came back from her first trip to Myanmar. She said she was surprised at how different it was from anyplace she had ever been. A must see.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes, your friend is right! Myanmar is a must-see country!

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  17. I cant believe I've never heard of this place. It sounds so different from what I would think I would find in Asia.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Myanmar is really unique among lots of Asian countries I have been to.

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  18. Thanks for this. I've been to Thailand and Japan but would love to visit something a little less mainstream!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) That's cool! I have been to Japan but never to Thailand. Japan is totally different from Myanmar also the rest of Asian countries as it's incredibly developed tbh

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  19. Wow, definitely a culture difference! You've done a great job highlighting some very unusual things here that I normally would have never have even heard of. I've never traveled over that way but will definitely have to do more research if I ever intend to as life is much different than what I'm used to here in the US. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Southeast Asia is far different from USA. It's stunning to explore though.

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  20. Ooooo this is definitely interesting!!!!! It's so neat to see how other people live!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) And yeah I think so!

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  21. Myanmar is a great destination. Thanks for sharing these quaint and quirky things about the wonderful people there.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) "Quaint and quirky" yes you're right about them!

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  22. I think it would be so fun to explore Myanmar! It sounds like a place that is so filled with culture. I love places where the people absolutely love their culture and beliefs!

    Kaitlyn
    www.mypostpartumlife.com

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes it was wonderful to discover their culture!

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  23. Thank you so much for sharing these! I love learning about other cultures - your pictures are fab too!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes it was wonderful to discover their culture!

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  24. Oh my gosh, those neck rings! Beautiful but equally terrifying! What a beautiful place to visit.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes you're right. Tbh I found the neck rings pretty scary.

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  25. Lovely post, Myanmar is most certainly one of my favourite countries in the world, with its almost untouched, natural beauty. Rudyard Kipling was right, even after all these years.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yeah me too! Myanmar is awesome that way - "with its almost untouched, natural beauty" as you said

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  26. It looks like you had fun adventure in Myanmar, It's also my goal to travel and to see and experience different culture in this world.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) And yes it was so much fun there

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  27. What a strange way of showing your age lol them women won't be able to lie about being 21 again will they lol I love learning about other cultures though, its so interesting. Sounds like a great place but also a bit scary

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    1. What do you mean by a strange way of showing my age? lol Well me too in terms of learning about other cultures. Myanmar is not scary though. It's fascinating with unexplored myths and friendly local people.

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    2. And thanks for your reading:)

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  28. It is amazing how much of the world that we still have to discover. I hope that it will stay unspoiled by tourism.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes you're right. Hope that it will remain unchanged.

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  29. I've never been to Myanmar, I've heard a lot about them though. These are pretty interesting indeed, it's nice to see people who are very intact with their culture and traditions.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) And yeah I think so

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  30. I didn't know much about Myanmar before this post, so I found it very interesting! Sounds like there is a lot of rich culture and traditions. The driving sounds a bit confusing and scary, but even that some history to it.

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) I got confused and realized something was wrong when I got exposed to the traffic haha it's pretty cool though.

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  31. I never knew any of this about Myanmar before. This looks like a really interesting place to visit. I think I would have been really scared about their teeth if you didn't tell me this! :P

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Haha the betel nuts are actually cool

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  32. New cultures never cease to amaze me with what all is different. Thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes, it's amazing to see different cultures!

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  33. This is fascinating to read. I didn't know about the betel nuts before. I love learning things like this.

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  34. Great post about interesting facts about Myanmar, we've been there in 2012 and most men are really chewing betel nuts, you'll see red stains everywhere. About the exotic paste was told too that it was for sun protection, was given a small bar of it by a kind lady. What is fascinating, everyone thought I was a local and I have to tell everytime that I am from the Philippines (lol).

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yup! Myanmar is amazing;) all the betel nuts and yellow paste. Haha that sounds fun! Actually I found it pretty hard to tell anyone if they are from Philippines. I used to mistake a Filipino for a Thai. Don't even know why though.

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  35. I would like to visit Myanmar someday and just see what it has to offer. I think these make me more interested in going there! ---Marceline Dementori

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) Yes! Visit there one day! Myanmar will not let you down:)

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  36. I guess I need to add Myanmar to my Asian travel quest. I will be honest before this post it would of never crossed my mind but now I am intrigued. I would love to meet some of the giraffe women there!

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    1. Thanks for your reading and I'm glad to hear that:) Haha yup Myanmar should be in your bucket list ;)

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  37. This is an interesting post for me and I love learning about kind of cultures,

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  38. Asia is the only continent I have yet to visit although my brother had many times and its his favourite with so much culture

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) And yup you should visit Asia :) it has so many things to offer!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words on the article!:)

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  40. It is always interesting to see just how different cultures are. This really gave us a cool look into the Myanmar culture. I remember hearing about the women wearing the rings around their necks but the others are new to me. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for your reading:) I totally agree with you on how interesting it always is to discover different cultures on earth!:)

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