It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to visit a a contry that I haven’t been in and taste a little of a different culture. A short visit to Myanmar offered just that. Bordered by 5 different countries, Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand and made out of more than 100 ethnic group Myanmar is a hot pot of cultures which unfortunately still bubble together in violent outbursts at certain location.
So many temples
The relative recent downfall of the military dictatorship and opening to the west seem to have brought about some strange phenomenon.
In 1970 all traffic was moved to the right however there are is a lot of import of cars from Japan that are made to drive on the left side. Even some busses have Japanese stickers in them.
worship those LED
The electric sockets seem to have the same split personality and cover a variety of different inputs. Tourism is also a relatively new income and the powers at play are trying to make the most out of it. Many different areas require a tourist permit to just be in the area. For instance in Bagan we payed around 20 $ landing in the airport. Some travelers were telling us it wasn’t too hard to avoid these checkpoints if you use busses and taxis to get around. Also turned out the myth about only excepting new $ bills with absolutely no folding signs is at least partially right. Some places were OK with my folded bills while others offered a worse exchange rate for them and others totally rejected them. I tried to track down the source of this behaviour, some blame Taiwanese banks which were the main exchange at some point in the history, others claim it’s a psychological effect stemming from seeing the foreign bills as an actual resource like gold. If anyone has a better explanation let me know. Another outdated meme was that locals reacted to the fact I came from America as “best contry Obama”.
Building by all genders
The two main things I did in my short trip was visit temples and eat local food. The temple in Yangon had a ticket for foreigners and the main surprise was the LED decorated Buddhas. In Bagan the main attraction was motobike g around the thousands of temples that date from around 800 years ago when the areas was a center in a local kingdom. building temples and releasing captured birds are a way to get good Karma points. I wish education children and studying science would be considered as giving people good karma. Alas, religious memes rarely benefit society as a whole.
As for the food it was way better than I expected. The tea leaf salad, shan nuddles and curries where all great and I have been missing sugar cane juice ever since my time in Vietnam.
On the gender front I enjoyed seeing men wearing skirts but it turns out the type of skirts and how you tie them are gender based. Both men and women were working performing hard labor in the building industry and I saw some Burmese transgender women walking down the street, unfortunately getting a lot if stares and whispers from the men around but in this one un-representing case there were no loud calls or harassment.