Six years ago, I had never heard of Burma. It wasn’t until a friend told me she was part Burmese that my world opened. She spoke of the country with such adoration and longing that I began to long for it. When I arrived in Asia, the first thing I did was apply for a Burma visa. I knew I had to go.
What is Burma/Myanmar like in 2014?
It is a poor country. The people, government officials excluded, have the necessities but not much more. Many have less. Yet, when you see the poverty, you don’t see the despair. Yes, you see it in their living conditions but you don’t see it in them. They don’t become their condition. There is a strength, an acceptance, a completeness about the Burmese people.
Burmese children love foreigners. When locals alert each other of your presence (very common), the kids run outside or to the window screaming “hello” and “bye”. I’ve never been greeted with such raw enthusiasm. And smiles!
Celebrations are a big deal. Thanaka is strategically applied and only the best longyis are worn. The longyi is standard dress for the Burmese. Yes, it’s a “skirt” but it’s gender neutral. The men wear longyis, too.
Burmese people are extremely resourceful. You’d be shocked at what can be carried on a motorbike. On two occasions, I saw a motorbike carrying a motorbike. No lie. Check out this guy coming from the market. There is not an unused space on his bike! And, he is rocking the everyday, I’m running errands, longyi.
All of the men are muscular, even the monks. I saw so many ripped monks, it was overwhelming. Yeah, I feel guilty for the ogling but good lawd!
Burma is an attraction without trying to be. You will see things you’ve never seen. And, you will never forget.
What do you think? Have you been to a place that felt special? Where?
Next week, I’ll share more from my Burma adventures – including a wedding!
[Burma is officially recognized by the U.N as Myanmar. But the Burmese people I met still refer to it as Burma. So I use both names.]