Myanmar is slowly developing as a country, striving to enter the 21st century! Parts off the country that have been off-limits to tourists are now open to be explored, making Myanmar hot on the Southeast Asia travel list. Here are 12 extraordinary things you should learn about Myanmar before you go.
Most people in Myanmar will become a monk or a nun at some point in their lives
Since Buddhism is by far the predominant religion in Myanmar, local monasteries and nunneries see a lot of action – especially during major holidays such as Thingyan. Most Myanmar people temporarily become a monk or a nun for a few days at least once in their lifetime. It’s treated as a very important event. Family members and neighbors gather for special ceremonies such as the head shaving.
A religious site with over 2,000 stupas tightly packed into less than a square mile actually exists
Located approximately 30 miles from Taunggyi in Shan State, the stupas (mound like structures containing relics) at Kakku are a marvel of ancient architecture and religious devotion. Narrow passageways invite visitors to get lost amid what appears to be a mirage of elaborately crafted spires.
The unique leg rowers of Inle Lake impress with their balance-defying act
Perhaps the biggest draw to Inle Lake in Shan State is its leg rowers. Members of the Intha (lake people) community make a living by cultivating floating gardens and fishing. Balancing on one leg at the back of a small wooden boat while rowing with the other leg to get around is more than a sight to see. It’s an art form.
Birthdays aren’t so self-centered in Burmese culture
Several cultures adhere to a birthday celebration that revolves around the individual whose birthday it is. This isn’t usually the case in Myanmar. Birthdays are a time for individuals to visit pagodas, offer up donations, and treat friends and family as opposed to being treated.
Irrawaddy river dolphins help people catch fish in Myanmar
Small groups of endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins are found in a few locations around the world, but the ones in Myanmar are truly special. They’re the only pod of Irrawaddy dolphin known to partner with humans in an effort to lure fish into nets. It’s estimated that only 60-70 remain in an ever-shrinking stretch of Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River.
Setting caged birds free is a way to gain merit in Myanmar
Many people in Myanmar believe the more good they do in life, the better their lives or afterlives will be. Setting animals free is one way to attain this. Birds can be purchased for a minimal price from a street seller walking around with a cage full of them.
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