9 oddities typical of Myanmar
Myanmar is a strange country , which immediately strikes the imagination and ignites the imagination. Upon arrival, you come face to face with a mix of suggestions from another era, stimulating, explosive, not always simple. People, traditions, monuments, in fact can sometimes be, for the western traveler, very distant from their cultural background and for this difficult to understand even if fascinating . A little 'as initially happened to me and my traveling companion Michela, who in September this year we spent 20 beautiful days exploring Myanmar.
But when, after the first impact, we managed to dig a little deeper under the bizarre surface, this wonderful country has unveiled in all its intensity , leaving space for a unique travel experience that left us with an indelible memory.
To make you understand a little better what we are talking about, we have gathered for you 9 peculiarities of Myanmar .
Travel to Burma - the experiences not to be missed
1. The Tanaka
The Tanaka is a yellow powder that is obtained from the trunk of the homonymous tree, taking advantage of the internal part against a stone to obtain a powder that mixed with a little of water, is then applied to the face. According to the Burmese, Tanaka has more or less any kind of beneficial properties : purifies and brightens the skin, is anti-aging, laxative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and protects from the sun, and there is no woman in Burma (but also, very often, man or child) who does not use it. It is applied on the face creating strips that also act as make-up and embellish. You can find it in any store or market and even a museum has been dedicated to Bagan. We bought it, but we admit we have not tried it yet ...
2. Strange verses ...
If you are walking and you start to hear strange lines that remind you of someone who is calling his cat or who is popping a kiss, do not be too surprised. The Burmese use this sound to call a person and get his attention, in restaurants, bars or on the streets; then the pop will soon become part of the soundtrack of your journey, along with many other "noises" not better identified ...
3. The peculiarities of the traffic
As soon as you leave the airport, you will come to know one of the most absurd features of Burmese traffic: car with the steering wheel on the right (as in England ), with drivers who drive on the left !Traffic, as always in the countries of South East Asia, is chaotic: the battered cars, the old buses and various vans juggle with great inventiveness among the streets full of holes in the metropolis, but two-wheeled vehicles are completely absent. They say they were banned because once a high army officer was hit by a moped ....
4. The betel
What are all those red spots on the walls and floors of streets, houses and hotels? Maybe blood? No, it is simply betel, the favorite pastime of all the Burmese! Betel is a mixture of ground nut and lime hydrate that should give you energy when you are tired. All here chew (and spit), and you can see: the mouths are red and often missing some teeth, and in the air there is often the unmistakable smell of this strange mixture. You will notice the stalls that spread it everywhere and, if your bus continuously makes incomprehensible stops, do not be alarmed, it is only because the driver and the passengers are left without betel!
5. More than perfect dollars
Money, in Myanmar, is a very complicated matter. In the country (for the moment, but I am convinced that the situation will change soon) there are no ATMs and credit cards are completely unusable. You can pay only in cash, but not any type of cash: they must be new US dollars , perfect: not a crumpling, a cut or a writing, otherwise the banknotes will be systematically rejected.
And when it comes to changing your dollars in kyat , the local currency, bring a briefcase or a backpack, because they will give you only 1000 kyat bank, which is about 1 euro and just over a dollar. In this image, only a small part of the $ 500 changed on the first day ...
6. Gonzo sacred places
In Myanmar, pagodas are everywhere, and there are very strange ones; the ubiquitous Buddha manifests to his faithful in many imaginative, gigantic, standing, extended, or with glasses , as in the Shwemyetman Paya ...
But the monument palm more absurd (but fantastic) is undoubtedly the Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo , one of the most sacred places in all of Myanmar. A golden boulder leaning on the edge of a cliff in the state of Mon, in the south-east of the country.Desserts? No thanks, better a soup!
At breakfast do you like eating a nice croissant while sipping a coffee, or enjoying two slices of bread with jam? After lunch can not you give up a piece of chocolate? Hard times for you, because the palates of the Burmese are used to many other flavors. An example? The mohinga , fish soup with noodles, which is eaten for breakfast. The taste a little 'strong could get some doubt at the beginning, but then you'll fall in love!
In Burma, however, you can find a wide variety of food products: fruits and vegetables of all kinds, fish, meat ... in particular, fried and foods full of oil are particularly appreciated, as is the garlic . In this photo, two girls from a village in the Shan State prepare (delicious) potato pancakes with a proven technique ...
While here you can admire the pleasant confusion of a morning market by the Inle Lake, one of the most magical places of the whole country, where the inhabitants of the mountain villages come to sell their products ... the fruit is exceptional and there are so many varieties of vegetables that you can try a different one every day!
8. Delicious larvae
Still about food, if you want to try something new, why not start from larva ? The favorites here are those of bamboo, fat and tasty . You will find them on display, still alive, among the banquets of the markets. We have not been brave enough, but we are curious to know the opinion of those who have tried ...
9. Imaginative translations
Like the one that, at the entrance to a temple, invites you not to enter with a "spaghetti blouse". And who does not have at least one in his wardrobe?
Have you been to Myanmar? What impressed you most?