When I went to Myanmar earlier in February to set up a service project for this summer, it felt a bit like I was spying on my daughter A. She has taught English and travelled widely in Myanmar in the last two years, knows the country well, and even speaks Burmese. Everywhere I went, I wondered whether she has been there before.
Myanmar/Burma is opening up and changing fast. But it still has a lot of distinctive features. I had known before that the Burmese wear the longyi. It was still quite a shock to see a wall of men wearing it at the airport, welcoming the arrivals. So much so that I forgot to take a picture.
Longyi are indeed everywhere, worn by men and women, so I got used to seeing it soon enough. But I haven’t seen it again in the form of a human wall.
Chewing the betel nut is something else that I have heard of, but have never seen before.
The Burmese people are certainly very polite and friendly. I took a stroll along a highway, and watched the people got off work, picked up their children from school, took the bus, gambled on games, bought fruit, bought flowers, collected donations, chewed the betel nut, cock fighting, …, with many of them smiling at me.