One-legged rowers in Myanmar on Inle Lake
Inle Lake is the most famous lake in Myanmar. The lake is an important source of food for the residents. In the surrounding villages, many live from fishing. The way people fish on Inle Lake, however, is a little different from what you may know. The fishermen hold the oar in one hand and support it with one leg so that they can hold the fishing nets with the other hand. Here they often endure many hours of the day. This is not so easy. You can try it, maybe first as a “dry run” on the floor.
Myanmar’s special umbrellas
The favorite souvenirs of all tourists from Myanmar are umbrellas, which are still handmade there and passed on from generation to generation. Especially in the Ayeyarwady Delta (the Ayeyarwady is the great river that flows through Myanmar), umbrellas are traditionally made from bamboo. This tradition is still maintained there today.
Everyone helps here, the whole family is involved in the production of the umbrella. Each hand-painted umbrella is unique, i.e. a unique piece that is not exactly like any other. That is what makes the umbrellas so special. Each artist also has his own pattern.
Not a rain umbrella, but a parasol
Braiding the umbrella is not that easy, because the bamboo that is processed must neither be too flexible nor too hard. The bamboo plant should actually be grown for a longer period of time and, above all, allowed to dry out, but due to the high demand, the bamboo is often harvested too early. The quality of the umbrellas naturally suffers as a result. Because tourists love to buy them, cheap plastic umbrellas are now also being sold. But the beautiful and traditional ones are still made by hand. If you take one with you, you should consider that these umbrellas are only suitable as umbrellas to a very limited extent, they would not last long. As parasols, they are very practical and a nice souvenir.
Manufacture of the umbrellas
The frame of an umbrella is woven from bamboo and covered with a cotton cloth or paper. You paint them with different colors and patterns. At the end the shades are sealed with a lacquer. It consists of the juice of the date plums and makes the umbrellas shine so nicely.
Celebrate in Myanmar
Anyone visiting Myanmar and suddenly standing in the middle of a happy water party and being sprayed with water pistols, is probably in the middle of the most important festival in Myanmar. This is the New Year festival, also – quite appropriately – called the water festival.
It takes place on three days in April. April is one of the hottest months, so cooling off like that might not be that bad. There are many parades, people are happy and dance a lot.
Food in Myanmar
The country’s cuisine is strongly influenced by the cuisine of neighboring countries such as China, India, Bangladesh and Thailand. This often creates a mixture of Indian dishes, which are usually very spicy, and Chinese dishes, which do not have to be heavily spiced. In restaurants it is not that easy to find THE typical Myanmar dishes.
The Burmese like to have breakfast with tea or coffee and eat a soup with noodles or rice. There is also a spicy sauce, often a fish sauce.
Tradition and modernity
Myanmar has long been isolated from the rest of the world. This has only changed since 2011, when the ruling military dictatorship introduced reforms. On the one hand, old traditions have been preserved, even if modernity is breaking its path at the same time. We can now find modern cars, even luxury cars, in the major cities of the country. Many companies have set up shop and earn a lot of money, so that part of the population can also afford a certain luxury.
Despite the modern age, many people remain very poor
According to a2zdirectory, many residents of Myanmar now have cell phones. Children play with tablets or pads. That too is part of the image of modern Myanmar. But many people can no longer find affordable housing because prices have risen.
But if you live in one of these big cities and have no money, you live just as poorly as before. It was not without reason that people spoke of the “poor house of Asia” for a long time, meaning Myanmar. And there are still many areas where people are very poor.
Discrimination against Muslims
The Buddhism is considered a particularly peaceful religion. For example, one of the five silas, Buddhists’ obligations not to kill or harm any living being. Like many other religions, Buddhism teaches charity and good nature. And as unfortunately with all other religions, there are followers who forget the original teachings of their religion and become violent, for example towards people of different faiths.
In Myanmar, this was also the case at times with Buddhist monks who violently attacked the Muslim minority in Myanmar. The Muslim minority in Myanmar has long faced discrimination. Again and again there were massacres, looting and displacement. It is particularly difficult for Muslims on the border with Bangladesh. Citizenship is denied to a small Muslim ethnic group of around 800,000 people. They are also repeatedly terrorized by extremist Buddhists.
Even today there are still in Myanmar, a group of monks, the discrimination of Muslims has made literally to the task. Unfortunately, they are often supported by government officials and community members. A certain group is led by the monk Ashin Wirathu. He was even already in prison for cracking down on Muslims.
But there was an amnesty a few years ago. This is an action in which political prisoners are released from prison. Many innocent people were able to leave the prison, but also a few criminals like the monk Ashin Wirathu. He publicly calls for the exclusion of Muslims and sees them as a threat to Myanmar. Unfortunately, despite all these dire deeds, he finds some approval in society.
This boy had to flee his home. He belonged to the Muslim minority in Myanmar and was expelled by extremist Buddhists. Now he lives on the street in the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The extremists have stolen his old life from him because he has a different skin color and belongs to a different religion. In Myanmar, many do not see the problem of discrimination against Muslims. Politicians, in particular, keep it out of the way because they fear losing voters. There is also fear that the military might intervene again in the end.