Friday, January 13, 2012

Impressions of Burma

Burma (aka Myanmar) is changing quickly. Political prisoners are being released, draconian rules are being relaxed, and if this continues I expect tourism will explode from tens of thousands to tens of millions in a few years. Here are a few random observations over my week and a half visit over New Years 2012 :

Like many underdeveloped countries, the place is a garbage heap. Plastic bags and used bottles are everywhere, except in the trash can.

Mess at a Pagoda

The domestic airlines – Air Bagan, KBZ, Mandalay, Asian Wings—are almost always late for both departure and arrival.

Here are a few books about Burma that you may want to read: George Orwell (who spent a lot of time here), and The White Umbrella.

Economic sanctions means you see relatively few foreign brands. Sure, you can find Coke here but it’s imported from Singapore. Try Star Cola or the various local coffee mixes instead of the real thing.


Ubiquitous sunscreen. The local women cover their faces in a yellow protective paint ground from the bark of a tree, apparently to prevent sunburn.

Women of Burma

I didn’t find the food especially appealing: the mohinga noodles are great for breakfast, but the curries (and most everything else) are too oily, without anything special in taste.


You spend a lot of time barefoot if you visit temples or pagodas, where the rule is “no footwear”.