MYANMAR: PINDAYA FESTIVAL AND CHIN TRIBES
10 DAYS // MAR 16 – 26, 2016
ABOUT Myanmar (burma)
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is located in Southeast Asia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and is the second largest Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Myanmar borders Bangladesh and India to the northwest, China to the northeast, and Laos and Thailand on the east whose coast lies on the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. The tallest mountain in Myanmar is named Khaka Bo Razi, an extension of the Himalayan range. The longest river in Myanmar is the famed Ayarwaddy, which is the lifeblood of the land. The Ayarwaddy begins in the southern Himalayas and is a life source by providing water for irrigation, commercial and personal transport, fishing, and cooking and bathing. The Ayarwaddy flows from the north and winds its way 2,000 kilometers south before emptying into the Andaman Sea.
Myanmar’s population is estimated at about 54 million. The majority of Myanmar’s people are ethnic Burmans. Other ethnic groups (including Shans, Karens, and Kachins) add up to some 30 percent of the population. These ethnic groups can be broken down into over 100 different groups or tribes and are dominant in border and mountainous areas.
The military regime has brutally suppressed ethnic groups wanting rights and autonomy, and many ethnic insurgencies operate against it.
Burmese is the official language. Many different ethnic groups have their own dialect. English is generally widely understood.
87% of the population is Buddhist. It has been said that Myanmar (Burma) is the most profoundly Buddhist country in the world. Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism whose followers pass on the most sacred of Buddha’s teachings from generation to generation.
There are also 4% of Christian, 4% Muslim, 4% Animist, and 1% Hindu. The Animists is comprised mostly of our hill tribes such as the Naga; who much like the United State’s Native Americans, worship and hold in high regard the land and her animals.
Temperatures average between 21-28 degrees Celsius (70-80 degrees Fahrenheit) - a great time to visit since it hardly rains during these months and it is not so hot.
A note about mosquitoes: bring repellent from home since it is hard to come by in Myanmar.
The official currency of Myanmar is the Burmese Kyat.
ATM machines and Credit cards are accepted in the major cities, but not in the smaller villages. Small currency denominations are recommended for purchases in the village markets.
Some hotels, shops and government ferry clerks give change in kyat or with torn US bills that you can’t use elsewhere in Myanmar. Bring lots of small dollar bills - ones, fives and tens - and use them to pay for anything in your hotel. Money changers accept only crisp, clean, unwrinkled bills with the new larger full-frame heads. It’s been said that $100 bills starting with the serial number ‘CB’ have been turned down.
Tipping and Donations
Tipping, as known in the West, is not customary in Myanmar though little extra ‘presents’ are sometimes expected - even if they’re not asked for - in exchange for a service (such as unlocking a locked temple at Bagan, helping move a bag at the airport or showing you around the ‘sights’ of a village).
It’s a good idea to keep some small notes (K50, K100, K200) when visiting a religious temple or monastery, as donations may be asked for. Also, you may wish to leave a donation.