Monday, February 11, 2013

Burma in a bulleted list (with photos)

Spilled tea and spare cigarettes at a teahouse
Tea and coffee cups are filled to the brim. While they are being taken to the tables the liquid is spilled on the saucer. It happens all the time, as if it was done on purpose.

In the teahouses besides drinking tea you can also eat some food, very good stuff by the way.

Betel nut vendors, teahouses and other shops normally sell spare cigarettes. 

There are mobile phone shops everywhere. They are really a lot, too many maybe. In fact most of them are often empty.

In some teahouses lighters hang from retractable cables connected to the ceiling. They can be pulled down and used by the customers at will.

There is a GSM mobile network and two CDMA ones, 450 and 800 MHz.

Many places in the country have two names, one going back to the British Empire times, or even earlier, the other assigned by some member of the military juntas. Examples: Burma-Myanmar, Rangoon-Yangon, Pagan-Bagan, Maymyo-Pin Oo Lwin, Thibaw-Hsipaw, Moulmein-Mawlammyine, etc.

Ice vendors sell their wares by the spadeful.

Everywhere in Burma food is cooked on wood-fired stoves. In the evening in fact a gray-blue mist hangs over the cities.

Even though this is a right hand side driving country, many cars still have the steering wheel placed on the right side of the dashboard. As a former British colony Burma used to follow the left hand side driving standard. A few years back the current dictator was told by his personal fortune teller that danger was coming from the left (or some such thing). The boss, extremely worried, had the entire system changed overnight.

For similar reasons the same dictator also decided that some of the country's banknote denominations should be in accordance with some of his lucky numbers: 45, 90 and so on. 

Burmese people are probably the most sociable and smiling people in S.E. Asia. For a little longer, at least...

Accommodation in Burma is the one with the worst quality/price ratio in S.E. Asia. Again: For a little longer, at least...

Foreign currencies are exchanged only if the notes are brand new. A folded or crumpled corner or a dent is good enough a reason to have your dollar rejected, with firmness and some spite as well.

Public illumination is very scanty and blackouts are frequent. Lots of buildings are provided with a private electricity generator.

Most of the workers in public roadworks (bridges, roads, etc.) are women.

Most of the local pop songs are copied from the American and British hits. The ones you're not familiar with are most likely clones of Chinese songs. Why striving to create? Copying is way easier. 

Burmese women wear some elegant and colorful long skirts, that they fold and tie around their waist. 

Burmese men, on the other exactly the same.

Burmese men have rotten teeth and ruined gums because they are constantly chewing betel nuts wrapped in lime smeared leaves. When I say lime I don't mean the fruit, I mean the material used in building construction.

Burmese women, on the other hand...have exactly the same habit and problem.

Burmese men who wear the typical long skirt (longyi) appear dignified and at ease. Foreign men who try to imitate them, on the other hand, make me crack with laughter.

Lighter hanging from the ceiling at a teahouse
Ice sold by the spadeful
A lady cooking her dinner on a wood-fired stove
I'm on a little island in the Andaman sea. Internet connections suck here. I'll upload more pictures as soon as I get back to the mainland.

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