The Morning Procession of Monks
Every morning, no later than 11 a.m. you can see the great procession of monks (Sangha) on streets. The reason why you have to donate before 11a.m. is because the monks cannot eat after 12 p.m. They walk on barefoot and have a bowl (Dha Bei’) in their hands asking for donations, usually homemade food. Although, you can donate whatever ranging from money, tooth brushes to monk’s robe as offerings.
- If you are donating money, make sure to pack it in an envelope. It is ideal for monks not to touch money.
- If you are donating food, take off your shoes as it is rude for one to be wearing shoes whilst donating when the monks are only in their barefoot.
- During the offering, the monks will touch your donation and bless you with good health, wealth and merit.
- You will hear the sound of the gong many times before the procession to alert you that the monks will arrive soon.
In Myanmar, it is not odd to have bell strings hanging from buildings, and no, this is not a decoration! Bell strings are convenient tools used to send/receive things when one doesn’t want to go down. If you pull the string, you can hear the sound of the bell which alerts the people in their home for attention.
Trishaw (Side-car) Transportation
You can see rickshaws in India and Pakistan, Tuk Tuk in Thailand and Cambodia, and Side-car in Myanmar.
If you are riding a Trishaw, you get to enjoy the 360 degrees view of the sky (because there’s no roof!). For a lot of people, it is unimaginable to see a man in a skirt (long gyi) pedaling a Trishaw, but in Myanmar, it’s just normal.
Moreover, riding a Trishaw is very cheap, if you don’t feel like walking to a bus stop, it is a good idea to get on a Trishaw and enjoy the breezy ride!
Facts about Burmese Side-Car:
- Trishaws are used as major public transport in the sub-urban or rural areas where there is no public transport such as buses and cars.
- It was introduced in Mandalay (the old capital city) around 1930.
- Passenger seat is beside the peddler, not behind.
- It is not big; therefore,it can travel through small streets very easily.
- There is only a two-passenger compartment: passengers sits back to back.
- For short distance rides, it costs about 700 Kyats ($0.50 USD).
Kissing For Service
If you hear smooching sounds in a tea shop, don’t fret, it is not for you! In Myanmar, it is not consider rude as this is part of the culture to make kissing sounds to get the servers’ attention. Next time you order food, drinks, or beer in a Burmese tea shop, just make two or three short kissing sounds and the waiter will come to you!
Oarsman Rows Their Boats With One Leg
In the North-east of Myanmar, Inle Lake is located in Shan State. This second largest lake’s major transportation is traditionally by small boats. The oarsman stands at the stern with one leg and rows the boat with the other leg which is wrapped around the oar. This distinct rowing style was developed because in the past, fishermen could not see the floating plants and these plants could cause congestion during travelling. Thus, this is a convenient way for fisherman to navigate through the lake.
Fact about leg rowers:
- Inle Lake Boat Festival is an event held in October. During the festival, leg rowers dressed in festive attire compete to achieve the title of the fastest leg rower. While you are there, you can also enjoy the music, dances, and the full moon ceremony.
Women Carrying Things On The Head
It is a tradition for women to carry heavy things such as clay pots filled with water, food trays, and any kind of heavy miscellaneous goods on their head, even bricks! In fact, a woman carrying the clay pots filled with water is usually viewed with elegance and beauty.
You can mostly see this in Bagan area of Myanmar where women carry their purchases on their head with the assist of a flat circular roll of cloth. This tradition started as an alternative to carrying things in hands where there was no transportation. You can also see a few women with trays on their head in Yangon; they usually sell traditional Burmese snacks. Although, it would be wise to be careful when eating any street food as they could give you a bad stomach.
In the east of Myanmar, women from the Kayan tribe wear brass rings around their neck. It is also one of the popular tourist attractions in Myanmar.
Facts about Giraffe Women:
- It was speculated to have initiated as a way for women to protect themselves from other tribes as these brass rings make them look less attractive.
- Their necks are not actually long; the heavy brass rings compressed their shoulders and ribcage which gives an impression that they have long necks.
- A set of neck rings weight as much as 10 kilos.
- Kayan can start wearing these rings at the age of five and add more layers later on.
Drivers On The Right
Formerly a British Colony, drivers drove on the left side of the road and steer on the right. However, during General Nay Win era, it was decided that the drivers drive on the right instead of the left. Thus, when in Myanmar, you will see people driving on the right side of the road with the steering also on the right.
Chinlone: Myanmar’s National Sport
Nothing could get any more authentic than the Burmese Chinlone Sport. This is not a competitive game. In fact, it is a game of team work, trust and arts. Players pass the Chinlone (cane-ball) to one another creatively in the circle with the aim of keeping the ball from hitting the ground, all the while trying to be as fluid as possible. Beware! This game will get you mesmerized!
Portable Street Food Vendors
If you’ve been to Myanmar, you would’ve seen at least one portable street food vendor on a street. What makes it unique, however, is that the seller usually shouts what he is selling, regurgitating the same phrase over and over again, until, you just have to buy it because it had make you hungry. There are myriads of options from different vendors. To name a few, you can get fruits such as mango and pineapple (when in season), Coconut drinks (when in season), flavored shaved ice, and all kinds of Burmese salads (including the ubiquitous Pickled Tea Salad). These food are also very cheap, so it is recommended that you try these delicacies at least once!