Mysterious Burma

Mysterious Myanmar.

Mysterious Myanmar. photo No. 1

For more than half a century this country was ruled by a military (socialist) junta, and lived not just behind an iron curtain, but behind an armored curtain. Not even two years later, the first elections took place there. As a result, the military came back to power democratically. But the head of the opposition (forgive me, their names are not easy for me), who had been under house arrest for 18 months, became prime minister. For her own safety, as the government claimed, so that the faithful would not stone her.

That’s how they lived in the “socialist reserve. And suddenly, a coup, openness, Obama and Lavrov visiting. And lots of tourists. Foreigners. With money. Which the Myanmar people have never seen before.

In some ways it reminds me of our country 30 years ago. And us, terrified of sudden permissiveness and frightened of foreign curiosities.

But there are significant differences. And their regime was much stricter than ours. And their religion was never forbidden – on the contrary, Buddhism was flourishing. With all that it implies.

I do not claim to be the absolute truth, I will simply tell you about my impressions of the 20 days I spent in Myanmar in March.

So, every year, on the 8th of March my friends and I go to Vietnam. And this year we decided to discover a new country – Myanmar. It’s kind of close on the map, but very different.

The climate is hotter. That’s for sure. In Yangon, the former capital, and Mandalay, it’s over 40 degrees in the daytime! And the humidity is crazy. April is the rainy season, March is the last hot month. Perhaps because of this, but nature was pretty poor. Five months of heat and no clouds.

Why is Yangon old? Not long ago, the military decided they were uncomfortable living in a capital that was too open and built a new one. And they built a new road there, an expressway, four lanes, with a guardrail. The new capital is the only place in Myanmar where there are no power outages, and all the houses have running water and telephone and even local Internet access. Only government officials and the people who serve them live there. Tourists are not allowed to enter there.

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In general, there are many places in Myanmar where tourists are forbidden to go, so all tourists must take a guide/translator upon arrival to prevent silly white people from straying into the “red” routes, where they can be shot on sight.

Mysterious Myanmar. photo #3

This is our guardian mother: Om Na Si. A.k.a. Oma Si, Omi-san, Diamond. She liked all these names.

And now some pictures of Yangon, the first city on our itinerary, the former capital of 5 million people, with its own Rublevka (right in the city center) and stunning slums – with dirt, rats, ruined houses.

These are the views from our hotel at about 8:00 in the morning.

…To put it in perspective, there’s Sule Pagoda, On the street whose name was our hotel, the center of the old town, lots of colonial style buildings. Almost all of them are abandoned and ruined. Next to the pagoda – a little to the right, across the street is a mosque.


And now I propose to look around the neighborhood of our hotel. At about 8 – 9 am. By half past 10 there is only one wish left – to dive into the pool.

Mysterious Myanmar. photo #10

Mysterious Myanmar. photo #11

The administration buildings are all restored, all shiny.

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There are a lot of little altars like this in the streets.

Mysterious Myanmar. Photo № 15

Mysterious Myanmar. Photo #16

The building is on the same square as the restored ones, but it is completely abandoned, with broken windows, dirty and shabby. Most of them are like that. Although the “breed” the beauty of the building can be seen in such an unpresentable way.

Mysterious Myanmar. Photo №17

Everyone is selling everything, everywhere.


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There are only two renovated buildings on this street. The Rba are condominiums for wealthy Yangonites, with concierges at the entrance. The other buildings, you can see for yourself.

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Right in the middle of the street lives this handsome guy.

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How THIS box got here, even Buddha himself doesn’t know.

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Mysterious Myanmar. photo #26

The fire station is right in front of the hotel – we are not afraid of fires.

Mysterious Myanmar. Photo #28

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Mosque (the one next to the Sule Pagoda).

Mysterious Myanmar. Photo #31

The Methodist church right behind the pagoda Sule.

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…and, well, the Sule Pagoda itself. Entrance for foreigners is 2000 kyat, or about 2.5 U.S. dollars.

… The exact Myanmar time:

Mysterious Myanmar. photo № 33

By the way, here again the Myanmar people have distinguished themselves. Their time differs from ours by exactly TWO HALF HOURS!

17 photo facts about Burma, the mysterious land of the Golden Buddhas

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As a tourist destination, Myanmar is too young, but it is rich in history and culture. After decades of brutal military rule, the country finally opens up like the first spring flower, revealing a myriad of beauties that make you dizzy. The tourist count is rising, exiles are returning from the depths of the wilderness, and a wave of uncensored media is becoming increasingly accessible to a newly optimistic population.

Whether today’s modest political reforms can translate into lasting change is something the world is waiting for with great anticipation, holding its breath. And whatever the case, the signs are positive. After centuries of rule under colonial powers and then a military junta, the Burmese are reclaiming their country, discovering it to the world from new, multifaceted sides, growing into a fascinating exploration of the countless nameless stupas of Bagan, the mythical caves of Pinday, the picturesque mountain trails and the gentle Inle Lake with its floating gardens and many monasteries. Also, the mysterious but incredibly enchanting Burma harbors an incredible amount of facts that tourists should take note of.

1. Fishermen on Inle Lake

Fishermen on Inle Lake use the ancient method of paddling with their feet.| Photo:

The fishermen of Inle Lake in Myanmar are famous for one-leg fishing. The local Inta people have for centuries developed an unusual technique to catch fish and paddle at the same time. This unusual pose allows the fishermen to see through the reeds that lie just below the surface in the shallow waters of the lake. From the outside it looks very funny, as if graceful herons lined up in a row, but in fact – a very effective and efficient way to get what you want.

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2. Myanmar or Burma?

Burma is a country where Buddhism is the dominant religion.

Myanmar was known as Burma until the end of the 20th century, after which it was renamed by the then military. The main city, Rangoon, became Yangon. A few days of demonstrations followed, but the name remained, taking root, sticking for years to come.

3. the new capital city

Nay Pyi Taw is the unusual capital of Myanmar.

In the early noughties the capital was relocated, rebuilt, and named Nay Pyi Taw. The purpose-built city has a twenty-lane highway, golf courses, fast Wi-Fi, and stable electricity. The only thing it lacks in the newfound city is people: a population of only 924,608 compared to Yangon’s 7,360,703!

4. The “Secrets” and Attractions of Yangon

Shwedagon Paya.

The previous capital, Yangon (formerly Rangoon), is home to the gilded Shwedagon Paya. It is believed to house the eight hairs of Gautama Buddha and is one of the most sacred sites of Buddhism.

5. Abode of Temples.

Bagan and amazing temple architecture.

Myanmar is home to Bagan, the world’s largest and largest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins. Founded in the second century AD, the kingdom once had more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries. Because it is in an active zone, there have been many earthquakes in Bagan over the centuries, the most recent one in 2016 destroying more than four hundred buildings and damaging hundreds more. Today you can still see the remains of “only” two thousand temples and pagodas, many of which are being repaired and restored.

6. Taung Kalat Buddhist Monastery

Taung Kalat Buddhist monastery.

Taung Kalat Buddhist Monastery sits atop a volcanic “plug” that rises 170 m (558 ft) above the slope of Mount Popa, the 1,518 m (4,980 ft) volcano on which it stands. Volcanic “plugs,” such as Taung Kalat, form when magma hardens in the vent of an active volcano. Today Mount Popa and Taung Kalat are considered sacred sites of 37 revered “nats” (spirits).

7. Miracles of “makeup” or what is the “paste” on women’s faces

The legendary Tanaka.| Photo:

Women (and to a lesser extent men) wear a yellowish paste of crushed tree bark that they apply to their cheeks, nose, and neck. Known as tanaka, the paste cools the skin, prevents sun damage, gets rid of acne, and can even reduce fever and headaches when ingested.

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8. National Clothing

National clothes: Sarongs and longhi.| Photo:

In Myanmar, both men and women wear sarongs, known as longhis. The patterns differ markedly for men and women. Women’s designs are called acheik and are tied in different ways.

9. Secrets and features of steel neck rings

Kayan Lahvi women.| Photo:

Women of the Kayan Lahvi tribe in Shan State are known for wearing rings around their necks: the brass coils around their necks seem to lengthen them. But in fact, the coils actually compress the clavicles, not lengthen the neck.

10. Vegetable Paradise at Inle Lake

Drifting among the floating gardens at Inle Lake.

The Inta people of Inle Lake grow vegetables on floating islands, which are a combination of floating weeds and water hyacinth. These floating garden islands can be cut, repositioned and moved by boat, and even sold as a piece of land.

11. shwe Wu Min.

Cave Buddhist temple of Shwe U Min. | Photo:

The Shwe U Min Natural Cave Pagoda in Pinday is a natural cave complex with over 8,000 statues or “images” of Buddha. The most recent count is 8,094. The number continues to grow as Buddhist organizations from around the world still make donations to the already growing collection.

12. historical facts

A military review.| Photo:

Burma has been part of the British Empire since the mid-nineteenth century. It was also occupied by Japan during World War II until independence in 1948.

13. Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and de facto leader of Burma. | Photo:

Aung San Suu Kyi is the politically indicted child of Aung San that is widely known for her service to the fatherland. She spent a total of fifteen years at home between 1989 and 2011. In the early nineties, the girl was awarded the honorary Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to the fight against violence and for democratic freedom. Throughout this time, she and her political force (the National League of Democrats) called for a boycott of tourism, believing that the bulk of tourism dollars went straight into the “pockets” of the generals. Her plea continued until her release in late 2010. Shortly thereafter, the NLD circulated a statement announcing that the boycott had been lifted. Despite the many changes in the country, Suu Kyi and the NLD are still under international criticism for fighting (and quite successfully fighting) the crisis in the Muslim-majority Rakhine region. The region has been accused of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, so there have been frequent calls for Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked.

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14. Writer George Orwell

Writer George Orwell.| Photo:

The writer George Orwell lived in Burma from 1922 to 1927. He served in the Indian imperial police. Orwell became increasingly ashamed of his role as a colonial police officer, and he would later recount his experiences and reactions to imperial rule in his novel, Burma Days, and in two autobiographical stories, The Elephant Shooting and The Hanging.

15. Automobiles and the intricacies of traffic

Transport in Myanmar. ¦ Photo:

For decades, most cars in Myanmar have been imported from Japan, where cars are right-hand drive. However, traffic in Myanmar also moves on the right side, so cars must be left-hand drive. Finally, right-hand drive imports were banned in January 2017.

16. Its own rules.

Rejection of the metric system.

Myanmar is one of three countries that have not adopted the metric system of measurement. Liberia and the United States are the other two countries that have not adopted the International System of Units (SI or metric system) as their official system of weights and measures.

17. Betel is one of the country’s major problems


Burmese chew a lot of bongs, which are considered the equivalent of tea, coffee, or tobacco. Betel stains teeth and gums and causes oral cancer. Needless to say, this is a growing health problem in the region.

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