Myanmar ( Burma)- People and culture
People in Myanmar are very simple and modest and still stay in a distance form the modern wester or pop culture. What it makes the country more interesting to visit. Therefore, what might be surprise for you, men don’t t wear trousers but only a kind of sorghum and women often have something on the heads like a turban with a headscarf or towel. A big percentage of man in Burma chews betel, making their wide smiles very red and their teeth brown. People are definitely one of Burma’s greatest attractions. In a country side they very often help each other in farming, repairing or building a house, preparing family celebrations or nursing during illness. One of the best known customs is the so-called hand-lending, based on mutual help between villagers or settlements.
Knowledge of English by the people of Myanmar is basically limited to people working in tourism, so sometimes it’s difficult to communicate. Burmese are very open and friendly and despite the language barrier, people are very helpful. A foreigner is always greeted with great curiosity and a smile on his face.
Buddhists dominate in most of the country. There are also some Hindus, Muslim temples and also Catholic churches. Please remember about very important customs when you in religious places. Shoes should be taken off and barefoot. You should avoid loud behavior, laughter and screams. When taking pictures, do not take mocking or ambiguous poses. Near the places where monks are staying, music is not allowed. Try to avoid touching religious objects. Treat monks with respect. If you are women do not reach out to them first. Pay special attention to images and statues of Buddha, do not put them on the floor.
Unfortunately, the kitchen is not special (not very diverse). The basis is rice and pasta. Meat dishes are expensive. There are also many Indian restaurants in Mandalay and Yangon. the mixture of food can be different and depend if you near the Indian, Chinese or Thai border you might have different influence of neighboring countries in the choice of food. Few dishes such as noodle served fired or as a soup and kind of Indian oily curry will be served almost every corner of the country.
What to bring as a souvenir.
The largest selection is at the market on Lake Inle and in front of the temples in Bagan. In Bagan you can buy pictures on canvas painted on a sand foundation. On the Inle lake wooden Buddha’s head, pictures with scenes from his life, bronze objects. In several places you can also buy great hand-made puppets depicting.