Asia, Myanmar

Photo essay: People of Myanmar in pictures

April 24, 2016
people of myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) is a country that attracts the visitors in many unique ways. From the incredible number of temples and stupas to the unique rowing technique on Inle Lake or from the lush mountain forests to the pristine beaches. Unique are also the people of Myanmar:  women put a thick layer of yellow paint on their faces, men dressed in skirts are throwing red spit everywhere (from chewing a combination of betel nut and tobacco). Where else have you seen that in the world?

In Myanmar, you have a feeling like stepping back in time maybe because it was disconnected from the world for so long. The country was ruled by a military force, a dictatorship that silenced the voice of the people. Following the advice of the international leader, tourists refrained from visiting Myanmar for decades.

Everything changed after 2010 elections. Democracy is slowly starting to set in and the economic sanctions against Myanmar were lifted. In 2011, Hillary Clinton visited the country followed by Obama in 2014. You can imagine that the number of visitors is starting to pick up now, but is nowhere near what you see in other countries in SE Asia. That is why my advice is to visit now before the country starts to experience massive scale tourism.

People are kind, friendly and shy (probably because very few people speak English). Both men and women are very traditional, at least in their appearance. All men wear long wrap-around skirts, called longyi and women have their faces painted with thanaka. The yellow paste is produced by grinding the bark of a thanaka tree on a flat stone, with water. It is widely used by women and children as a natural sunscreen or to prevent skin diseases like acne, measles, fungus, etc.

These are some of my favorite pictures of the wonderful people of Myanmar:

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