Myanmar vol.1

There's a strong Indian influence here.  Just one example: tea (or coffee in my case) is poured first into the saucer to cool it down and then sipped.
There’s a strong Indian influence here. Just one example: tea (or  this alleged coffee in my case) is poured first into a saucer to cool it down and then sipped.

The internet connection isn’t the greatest, I can’t seem to find ‘real’ coffee anywhere, and my translator will be arriving soon to pick me up and take me to the wood warehouse and distillery. For all these reasons, I’ll have to keep this post short.

Outside the hotel in Lanmadaw township.
Outside the hotel in Lanmadaw township.

Yangon is an extremely congested city. Honking car horns must mean “hello”, because everyone seems to be punching their horns for no apparent reason. Food stalls and fruit carts are scattered all along the streets and if you look closely, you’ll notice that the street dogs and cats are plump and happy, often resting under the carts.

$0.60 breakfast. It was pretty good!
$0.60 breakfast. It was pretty good!

Breakfast consisted of a collection of indiscernible substances thrown together, mixed by hand, and then plopped into a bowl that was washed in a bucket of water of questionable hygiene. I could make out the noodles and boiled eggs, but I gave up trying to guess the remaining ingredients. The food turned out to be pretty delicious. I washed it down with a bowl of herbal soup.

As I walk around town, I can see the strong Indian influence in the architecture, the incense, and the food. I even got to eat 3 custard apples of the Indian variety (which grow here natively as well); something I have been wanting for over 15 years!

The chairs at the cafe were actually small. I mean the size you'd find in primary school. I suppose they didn't have folks over 6 feet in mind..
The chairs at the cafe were extra small. I mean literally the size you’d find in a primary school, I kid you not. I suppose they don’t have folks over 6 feet coming too often..

What’s perhaps the most unusual thing I see here is women and children walking around with a pale ochre coloured paste smeared over their faces. Its one of the first things that caught my attention when I first arrived at the airport, and its something I still wonder about as I walk through the streets and find almost all women and children with their faces displaying it. Is it sandalwood? Perhaps they use it due to the cooling effects of sandalwood. Or maybe it has a religious purpose. Or perhaps cosmetic?

My translator will be arriving very soon. I know this face paint is one of the first things I’ll ask about.

Oh yes, and of course, let’s not forget about oud. I’ll keep you posted about that too.

Thwa dau mal!

4 Comments Add yours
  1. It’s called Thanaka. It helps with cooling and sun protection. Be careful as you wander into the jungle.

  2. Hi, Please call me on monday the 6th. We should have a long talk about agar wood in Myanmar. Bob Walsh, 09450021231

    I am just coming down from an agar wood organization meeting in Putao, will be back in Yangon at 8:00 PM tonight

  3. Thanaka is usually made from the bark from Hesperethusa crenulata tree Aka Limonia and contains active ingredients; coumarin and marmesin. Sometimes called Wood apple in English. Peace for your travels.

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