Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mingalabar Myanmar!

We're back, and have just been catching our breath after an amazing trip.  I'll try to organise my thoughts more on the matter over the coming days (I'm definitely planning a blog post about the food for example) but I'll start with my overwhelming impression of the place - that of smiling faces.

At first I was a bit nervous - everyone in Yangon seemed to be staring at us.  However, I soon realised that if I simply smiled everyone would break into beaming grins!  The staring was simply curiosity; Myanmar gets so few tourists that they were just fascinated to see us.

Our one word of Burmese - "Mingalabar" (hello) - served us well as we could greet people and prepare for the inevitable follow-up question "Where you from?"  Most Burmese speak a smattering of English as it is taught in schools, but the words that followed our answer ("England") were inevitably "Football!", "Premier League!" or "Rooney!"  Sigh...   They did love to chat though.  And smile!

The 'face-paint' is a kind of sunblock/cosmetic made from tree bark.  Most people wear it, sometimes painted on in patterns.

For a country with not much to smile about - grinding poverty, a dictatorial military government, many people struggling to earn $1 a day - it was beautiful to see such an attitude of positivity and happiness.  I have never felt so welcomed in any other country.


At Anna's kitchen table said...

What beautiful, smiling faces!

julie said...

Lovely pictures, Kate! People look so genuinely friendly.