By Amy Nair
As a tourist destination, Myanmar offers everything that a traveller can wish for with stunning natural views and an enriching culture in an abundance of rich history. The country is still young as a tourist destination and as such its breathtaking natural beauty remains unexplored.
A visit to the country is an intense learning experience that will open your eyes to their culture and traditions of the people. Here are some some fun facts that might interest you should you decide to visit this country some day soon!
Myanmar is geographically unique
In Southeast Asia, Myanmar stands as the largest province and ranks as the 40th largest country in the entire world. The country has a literacy rate of 83% with 89% of the population being Buddhists.
Myanmar has its own measurement system
Myanmar is one of the three countries in the world (the other two being the US and Liberia) that does not follow the general metric system of measurement. Instead, they follow a local unit of weight called Peiktha, 1 unit of which measures to 3.6 pounds or 1.63 kilograms.
Pagodas in Myanmar contain bits of Buddha
It is a known fact that when Lord Buddha died, his ashes were distributed among different countries where Buddhism spread. As one of the leading Buddhist countries in the world, Myanmar inherited quite a number of Buddha relics. Eight strands of Buddha’s hair were taken by his first two disciples Bhallika and Tapussa, and are kept in Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Mandalay Hill in Mandalay houses Buddha’s bones and ashes. These relics were found in the infamous Kanishka casket during a British excavation in Pakistan and was gifted to Myanmar for safekeeping. Uppatasanti Pagoda in capital city Nay Pyi Taw also holds a tooth relic from China.
This visual of the golden rock perched precariously on the top of a boulder is familiar to the world, known as the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Mon state. Legends say that the rock is perched on strands of hair of Buddha that was distributed himself during his visit to the Mon State.
You can eat tea in Myanmar
It’s time to explore your love of tea in Myanmar. Prepare to eat it with a one of a kind salad served only in Myanmar—the Tea Leaf Salad. Locally known as lahpet thoke (lahpet meaning green tea and thoke meaning salad), tea leaf salad is one of the most loved dishes in Myanmar. The salad includes pickled tea leaves, crisp and roasted peanuts, crunchy beans, fried garlic and toasted sesame seeds. You can add chopped tomato or dried shrimp for an extra blast of flavour. Traditionally, all the ingredients of the salad are served in separate piles and the guests can pick out whichever combination they prefer. However, if you like surprises you can get a premixed salad. It is literally a burst of flavours in your mouth.
The salad has an interesting history behind it too. It was originally served as a symbol of peace during wars between kingdoms, exchanged and consumed to mark the end of a conflict.
Myanmar is one of the most diverse countries on earth
When it comes to diversity, people seldom consider Myanmar to be a part of the category. But it definitely deserves a place. With roughly 135 ethnic groups, they have been divided into 8 main races separated by region. However, many sub-groups exist within these races that possess their own language, religion and cultural identity. These 8 races include Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Mon, Kayin, Rakhine, Shan and Bamar. More than 100 languages are spoken in the country and dialects from the Tai, Arakanese and Mon-Khmer have evolved to possess their own.
The national sport has no opponent team
This is true. Chinlone is the national sport of Myanmar which combines dance and sport to be played with any number of players. Instead of defeating an opponent player/team, the focus is on how well you play the game. Players form a circle and keep the chinlone (the ball) in the air by kicking it in turn in a football style. Players can use any of their body parts to play except their hands. Men, women, and children can participate in this game. It is a fast, fluid game that requires controlled movements to handle the ball skillfully and is more of a performance than a game.
Fortune reading is taken very seriously
Astrology is a serious affair in Myanmar. Astrologers are consulted during each important event in locals lives such as birth and marriage. They seek the astrologer’s help for daily issues that pop up in their lives as well. Their own zodiac system relies heavily on the number 8, which they believe is a symbol of cosmic balance and equal equilibrium. It comprises of 8 plantary energies and the 8 Burmese animal signs, which correlates to the day you were born on. A blind, deaf and mute astrologer known as E Thi is the most celebrated astrologer in the country whose clientele includes several politicians, businessmen and celebrities.
Now that you know these juicy titbits about this enigmatic country, we hope you will consider it as your future holiday destination. It’s bound to amaze and inspire leave you pleasantly surprised as you take home more fun facts to share with everyone back home