Burma Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by AngMimi
  • Girl at Giant Bell
    Girl at Giant Bell
    by AngMimi
  • Tanaka Seller
    Tanaka Seller
    by AngMimi

Burma Local Customs

  • Golden owls and "eggmen".

    The photograph shows a selection of papier mache golden owls and figures which I christened "eggmen" for sale in Rangoon / Yangon. You will see these all over the country and apparently they are supposed to bring good luck .The principle of the "eggmen" is that they are weighted in the bottom so you can knock them over but they always right...

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  • Shan National Day.

    I was lucky enough to be in Myanmar (Burma) on 07/02/2006, which is Shan National Day. Although I was later to visit and greatly enjoy Shan State, I was actually still in Rangoon / Yangon at the time. I was doubly lucky to be invited by some Shan friends to attend a festival held at the monastery situated at 9 1/2 miles on the Pyay Road.When we got...

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  • Giving donations.

    I am certainly no expert on Buddhist culture, but I noticed a great amount of making donations to religious institutions. I believe this is meant to bring you "merit" in the Buddhist way of thinking. Certainly, in all religious buildings, there are donation boxes and the principle seems to extend from individual gifts right up to what amounts...

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  • It all goes up in smoke.

    I realise that in the politically correct days of the 21st century, people like myself who choose to use tobacco are regarded socially somewhat as pariahs. However in Myanmar, where tobacco is a major crop, smoking is absolutely de rigeur especially amongst older people. You will quite often see elderly ladies going about their business and puffing...

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  • VISITING TEMPLES?? DRESS APPROPRIATELY

    BURMA There are just so many Temples and Chedis etc.to visit in Burma...They don't call it the land of a million pagodas for nothing..One thing though that is frowned upon by locals and that is "skimpy" dressing when visiting their temples...Guys make sure that your shorts are below your knees and preferably you are wearing long sleeves. Girls make...

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  • Marionette show.

    Myanmar puppetry is the string type. The stage provides the performance area, as well as the shelter for the marionette masters and musicians and their belongings. The performance area has a bamboo bar at which the marionette masters stand to manipulate the figures. The excellence of a marionette master is judged by his skill in singing and...

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  • Thanaka

    This must be my favorite sunblock of all time. I do have rather sensitive skin and the sun and i have been on rather shaky terms during most of my life. And here in Burma, the sun is something that is quite difficult to ignore. But Thanaka is the Burmese answer to my plight. Whenever i wear Thanaka (and i do so often, almost every day actually), i...

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  • Respect the monks

    I write this tip since i've seen it happen here in Burma once (but also once in Thailand where the same thing goes like in all buddhist countries). Women aren't allowed to touch monks! So you can't go and sit next to them in a bus, train or anywhere else. Also, and this is not only for the women, you can't sit higher than a monk. Monks are revered...

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  • Free maps

    At the MTT office (at least in Yangon) you can get free maps of Myanmar, Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan (that i know of). The website offers more maps but i haven't tried printing them yet (though i had a look at a few of them) . Handy for if you want to get around. Or if you find the maps in your LP not very useful. I use the 2 Yangon maps a lot....

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  • Pickled tea salad

    One of my favorite things in Burma is pickled tea salad. It is the prepared version of what you see on the picture. The salad can usually be ordered as a side-dish in restaurants and such (be careful if you don't like fish and/or fish paste since some places have the habit of putting this into the salad. Order it without then. Many (good) places to...

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  • Burmese Smoke

    Many of the local men and women in Burma like smoking the local cigars. Very common to see old ladies sit and gossip or doing daily job while they smoke those big cigars with a big smile.I took this pohot of smoking ladies in Inle lake. They looked happy. You can find small shops who sell the local cigars and try it your self.

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  • Compliments

    Probably one of the things that is most strange (and usually not so much appreciated) to our western ears is the burmese complement of 'wa-de' ('fat' but it also means 'satisfied'). In Burma if someone tells you you look thin or asks you if you have lost weight it is actually that they try to tell you that you look less good. If someone tells you...

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  • Noodle salads (breakfast)

    There are several types of noodle salads which you can usually order in teashops and at small street vendors. Mondhi and Mishi are the most common ones but sometimes they also have a rice noodle salad which i find is quite nice. According to 'inside information' mishi is better in Mandalay than in Yangon. Me, i prefer Mondhi over Mishi. Mishi has...

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  • Birthdays

    For Burmese it is important to know on which day you were born. Not your birthday as we celebrate it in the west (quite a few Burmese don't even know exactly how old they are) but on which day of the week you were born. Every day of the week has its specific animal. And even though Wednesday is divided in 2 days (morning & afternoon) they share the...

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  • Cheroots

    Cheroots are like betel and burmese tea the backbone of Burmese society. You’ll find cheroots everywhere and even older women like to smoke them (cheroots are very light). In many villages (and probably in the cities too but I never saw it there) you can find women making money by making hand-rolled cheroots. It is amazing how fast they can make...

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  • Fishermen on Inle Lake

    The fishermen of Inle Lake have a very curious way of rowing their boats. They stand on one leg at the back of the boat and use the other leg, wrapped around the oar, to row. Every time i see it i'm amazed that how they do it. They look so balanced. I would for sure fall over just trying to get my leg around the oar. Or probably i would have...

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  • A very popular game

    This game you see many boys and man play. It is almost like a game of pool. The player (or team since you can play it with 4 players as well, each having his own side but teaming up in pairs) either have number 1 to 9 or 10 to 18. Number 19 is the Joker. Like pool, the first player to get a chip in, decides who has what (low or high numbers)....

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  • Monks meal.

    We visit the Mahangandayon Monastery in Amarapura, where sought the silent line of about one thousand monks for their only day meal

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  • Long Necks women

    In the northern parts of Burma live tribe their women have very long necks that supported by several golden rings. Small girls began put on necks metal rings to long it so to their 15-17 years they have wear on neck 6-10 rings, it considered very nice.

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  • National dresses of Burma

    The Union of Burma was united under the legendary king, who defeated various kingdoms: Mon, Rakhine, Shan among others and brought them all under control. so while the Bamar is the majority in the population there are hundred or so other nationalities present in the present day Myanmar

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  • Palm's strong brandy distillery

    In world are exist several hundred kinds of palm's trees. Oil palm's tree, Coconut palms .copra ,and so one. There in Burma we sought sugar palms and distillery where produce strong palms brandy. In morning workers ascend to palm's top ,make a slit and hung there pot for collect juice, then they stored this juice for while to evaporate part of...

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  • Burma's markets.

    I'm sure that best way to explore new country to new people and to learn local customs lay by visit to local markets. That what I do in all country where I visit. In Burma's market you amaze of the mixes of colors smells and peoples. Heho market you see the people of many tribes that live around Inle Lake.

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  • Puppet theatre.

    In Yangon we went to Puppets theatre .It was show that based on several stories from Indian's epic Ramayana, I sought very skilled artists and artistically made Puppets.

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  • Language confusion

    It is very common for Burmese to say something like “the bus leaves at 4 this evening”. I always thought it just a quirk but I’ve finally found the reason for it. The Burmese break their day differently then we do:Morning is from 4 am till 12 amAfternoon is from 12 till 3 pm.Evening follows from 3 till 7 pmNight is between 7 and 4 am.Another thing...

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  • Names

    Most burmese instantly know on what day a person is born as soon as they are introduced. After all, every day has its specific letters to start a name with. It doesn't always count since some parents nowadays give their kids just a name but for anybody above 15 or so the following still holds true: Monday: Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha, Nga Tuesday: Sa, Hsa,...

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  • Being photographed

    Sometimes it happens to be a lot and then for a while it is quiet again. This time we were in Bagan to show some friends of us around and while my boyfriend and our friends were already way up on the pagoda, i was still at the bottom of the stairs. With baby's put in my arms so the parents could take a picture. It took me a full half hour (and a...

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  • A little note on History of Burma

    Thibaw had been 28 years old when the Burma Expeditionary Force of General Sir Harry Prendergast seized Mandalay and extinguished Burma’s thousand year old throne. This was November 1885. Randolph Churchill, then secretary of State for India, had pushed for the intervention in the hope that a short, easy war in Burma would be a good thing for...

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  • Making sesame oil

    the way to make sesame oil is still very very very traditional. You take a bullock and an old-fashioned press and let the pressing begin. To get the last bit of oil though you have to lend a hand by standing on the bar that connects the bullock and the press. Slowly the bucket will fill with rich oil. You can find quite a few of these pressings at...

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  • Wearing longyis

    Many of the men in Myanmar where longyis, which are like sarongs. This is not a fad for tourists. You will see them being worn everwhere, perhaps to a greater degree outside Yangon. You can purchase a longyi quite cheaply and in a variety of colors and designs. You will probably get compliments if you buy one and wear it. One positive is it gives...

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  • Showing affection

    Just like in many asian countries an obvious display in Burma is frowned upon. In Yangon (and less in Mandalay) 'hand-parties', the walking hand-in-hand of men and woman is as far as it goes. So please refrain from kissing in public or even the turning each other on in buses, pickups and other places where i have seen westerners engaged in...

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  • Buddhist praying and meditation

    When visiting temples you'll most often see people and monks praying and meditating. The sight is very inspiring.I am not buddhist to give you full details on meditation but luckily internet is useful sourse. Read more here for example: http://www.geocities.com/ekchew.geo/bl015.html

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  • Pagoda? Dagoba? Stupa?

    A pagoda, in Myanmar like elsewhere in Southeast Asia, is cone-shaped monumental structure built in memory of Buddha. The pagoda derives from the stupa of ancient India, which was a dome-shaped commemorative monument, usually erected over the remains or relics of a holy man or king. The finial, or decorative crowning ornament of the stupa, became...

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  • Celebrating Xmas in Burma

    I felt surprise to see Xmas decoration in all of the hotels we stayed at in Mynamar. I thought this was mainly to make tourists feel like at home as Mynamar is a Bouddhist country.I was even more surprised to find out that Xmas is an official holiday for Myanmar as well. When I asked why, they said that all religions are treated equally by the...

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  • What day of the week were you born?

    The day of the week a person is born is added in someones name and determines their planetary post, eight in all (Wednesday is split in two, morning/evening). They are marked by animals that represent the day, galon (garuda) for Sunday , tiger for Monday, lion for Tuesday , tusked elephant for Wednesday a.m, tuskless elephant for Wednesday p.m. ,...

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  • Falling in love

    Like elsewhere in SE Asia, couples are very modest in their behaviour towards each other in public. You will never see them embracing each other and kissing. BUT, in some cases young people are always against all odds and they express more and more their feelings to their beloved one

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  • Wedding receptions

    Probably like elsewhere in the world, there is an upper middle class that is able to celebrate their wedding in a more westernised way.Our hotel (Summit Parkview) in Yangon proved to be a popular place to hold wedding receptions. Similarities: the white wedding dress, photographer and videographer. Every guest is bringing a present (or money I...

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  • Padaung women (long neck)

    The Kayan also known as Padaung, is a well famed (and photographed) tribe for the coiling lengths of brass around the necks of the women. They are a tribe with turbulent history: in the 1990s, due to conflict with the military regime in Burma, many fled into neighbouring Thailand where they settled in the border area. In fact there, are more or...

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  • Smoking cigars

    A not so uncommon sight in Myanmar is to see women smoking these localy produced cigars. In fact I tried one myself and bought several ones from Inle lake at local producing factory. Smoke is stripped around a dried leaf and a natural filter is added. No chemicals added.The blend smelled nice there, I can;t say it tastes the same back at home......

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  • Studying Theravada Buddhist at a...

    We had the unique luck to take an idea of daily monk life at a monastery in Bago. Of special interest was the studying lessons:Becoming a Buddhist monk means that someone is joining a community – the sangha – the purpose of which is to study and practice the Buddha’s teachings in order to keep them alive, and whenever possible, to share them with...

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  • Street phone services

    It's quite common to see phone services in the form of 2-3 telephones in the middle of the street. I suspect that telecommunications are ageing in Myanmar and not affordable for the majority of people.

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  • Short-term monks

    A Buddhist monk is not required to make a lifetime commitment. Unlike those who remain in the monkshood for many years or a lifetime, many are those who become short-term monks for only a brief period of time - a few days to . Usually they are very young in age. This is a tradition in Therabada countries (like Mynamar), where a man is “Complete” if...

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  • Take off shoes and socks

    You should always keep in mind that entering a Buddhist pagoda or a temple it is obligatory to remove your shoes and socks as they are considered sacred places. Therefore it's very impractical to wear shoes as in many cases like Bagan and Mandalay you visit one pagoda after the other. Better choose to wear sandals or slippers like the Burmese do...

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  • Burmese beauty cream

    Thanaka is a traditional cosmetic and an inexpensive form of skin care, unique for people in Myanmar. It is a natural yellowish-white cosmetic commonly applied to the face (occasionally other parts of body) by both sexes and all ages in Myanmar but specially for women where it is considered a part of their beauty routine. It has a distinctive mild...

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  • The dreaded betel nut

    Throughout Burma you will see red splotches on the footpath. You will also notice men with their mouths chewing on something which fills their mouths. Every now and then you might even see them spit on the footpath.What you definitely notice is a lot of men with what you might think very bad teeth. In actual fact their teeth have been stained a...

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  • Burmese Transport

    Yes, Myanmar does have cars but they're not affordable for everyone. Other modes of transport include: on foot, bus, train, boat, or on the back of any large animal.Here are a few pictures of the different transport modes I saw.

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Burma Local Customs

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