Few places are as captivating and mysterious as Myanmar. As the travel community continues to hear more of what fascinates about Burmese culture, the “Golden Land” remains somewhat of a treasure waiting to be discovered. So if you plan on heading out there, these are 12 things you should know before you do.
Burmese street vendors entice with melodious shouts
Aside from offering birds to set free, many vendors in Myanmar take to the streets to sell a wide variety of goods ranging from rice cakes to broomsticks and fresh produce to toys. Each seller has a distinct call or even a tune they chant as they meander. This piece of Myanmar’s culture is charming at times that aren’t early in the morning.
Traditional tea shops are the best part of waking up in Myanmar
Move over Egg McMuffins, the traditional teashop still reigns as the place to go for a quick breakfast in Myanmar. In fact, McDonald’s isn’t even a thing, yet. Ordering a steamy bowl of mohingya or a few pieces of fried dough served alongside sweet, milky coffee or tea is the local way to go.
Tea leaves are for eating as well as drinking in Myanmar
Knowledge of Myanmar’s fermented tea leaves (laphet) is on the rise as this extremely popular local dish continues to gain international culinary attention. Pickled tea leaves are most often consumed in the form of a salad mixed with fried nuts and garlic, small shrimp, and a few chilies for an added kick.
The internet will be slow or non-existent in Myanmar
The internet arrived in Myanmar in 2000. However, with extremely slow connection and specific websites such as Youtube and Gmail being blocked, it is still not widely used. Although the restrictions have been lifted since, the network is still very underdeveloped. There will be times where you stumble upon an “internet café,” but don’t trust the signs until you try the connection. Long story short, don’t expect to have any connection and then you won’t be disappointed! We think part of Myanmar’s charm is being able to getaway from it all. So when in Myanmar, drop your phone, enjoy the views…you can worry about that instagram photo later on.
It’s all about the salad in Burmese cuisine
Burmese food is a unique blend of its own ethnic diverseness and influences from neighboring countries. Hints of India, Thailand and China can all be found in each bite. Traditional Myanmar meals tend to include a strong mix of sour and savory tastes found in a smattering of salads (thoke) served as main courses or on the side. These aren’t your lettuce and dressing kind of salads either.
It’s not blood – it’s red-colored spit
Chewing betel nut as a mild stimulant is still very much a thing in Myanmar. Look no further than a nearby street corner to find beautifully stacked betel leaves waiting to be lathered with slacked lime before being wrapped around bits of nut, various flavorings and often tobacco. This combination turns saliva a very distinct red, which is easily spotted on sidewalks, walls, or even the sides of cars.
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