12 things you’ll only see in Myanmar

Sanne van Oosten and Davey Meelker

Because of years of isolation and economic sanctions from the West, Myanmar is a distinctively unique travel destination. For years it was even impossible to travel there as a tourist, making it a country that hasn’t been run down by tourists… yet. At the end of April 2012, the West started to lift the economic sanctions for Myanmar. We visited right before that, during April 2012. Take a look at what we saw here, but nowhere else.

Myanmar is one of the most piously Buddhist countries in the world. It has the most beautiful and unspoiled temple complexes in the world, with Swedagon Paya being the mother of all pagoda’s.

Hey you got something on your face… O, that’s supposed to be there? Thanakha, Myanmar’s tradition of painting faces of mostly children and women. It is yellowish past made ground bark just for aesthetic reasons or to protect themselves from the sun.

Myanmar is opening up, but to what extent? In any way, it is wise not to harm the union, otherwise you will be crushed!

Here monks don’t wear saffron robes, but the much more appealing maroon colored robes adorn the monks. They don’t cover one shoulder. Bare shoulders are prohibited in temples, but monks are exempt from this rule.

The sanctions work both ways. In Myanmar you never see beer from the West (the only imports are from Thailand), but outside Myanmar one would never find this delicious brew.

Myanmar has the highest monk to non-monk ratio we’ve encountered in all of South East Asia.

Due to a lack of trading partners thanks to the economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar, Coca Cola is severely expensive in Myanmar. Better stick with Myanmar made star cola.

Myanmar needs foreign currencies so foreigners often have to pay in dollars. Bring stacks of crispy green papers, because of the sanctions there are foreign banks and no ATM’s. If you want local money there are black market money traders with the best deals in town,but don’t let yourself be cheated!

The only place in the world where the opposition leader’s face is on every street corner, Myanmar. Even a woodcarver painted her face.

Party like it’s… 2012 at the Myanmar water festival Tyngan.

A great way to have a business, tap a phone line and let people use it for money. A common scene throughout the world in long lost times, now only still to be spotted in Myanmar.

And now the desert, delicious tamarind flakes we bought a family size pack of during our stay.

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  1. The diversity of Asian drinking cultures « - August 7, 2012

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