Opening itself to the West relatively recently, Burma (also known as Myanmar) is a country still very much untouched by globalisation. This varied destination boasts culture and traditions which have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. From bustling local teahouses to the tranquil shores of Lake Inle, Burma is alive with colour and diversity.
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The sun rises over Lake Inle, colouring the sky and water a warm orange hue. These quiet hours are the perfect time to witness a Burmese practice that is centuries old. Taking to the still waters on narrow boats, armed with long oars and conical nets, the fishermen of Lake Inle take up a precarious one-legged stance upon the end of their boats. There are several reasons for this odd stance, not only does it allow for a better vantage point to spot fish and navigate the dense patches of weeds, but also allows their free leg to push the oar and drive the boat forward.
Although it may sound comical, there is an elegance and grace to which these fishermen navigate the waters of the lake. A trip to Inle at sunrise boasts stunning views of the lake and the fishermen at work, but also guarantees fewer tourists.
Early morning and time to grab something to eat. To have an authentic breakfast in Burma, all you need do is follow the locals to one of the thousands of teahouses that line streets across the country. With their seating spilling out into the streets, it can be hard to tell where one teahouse ends and another begins, but these venues are the lifeblood of the Burmese people.
You can expect to enjoy a range of snacks and drinks at a Burmese teahouse including deep fried buns filled with fresh coconut; Burmese breadsticks known as ‘Char Kway; and Mohinga, a delicious fish soup served with rice noodles. There is one drink, however, for which the teahouses are best known, sweet milky teas made with condensed and evaporated milks.
These sweet teas are beloved by the people of Burma, so be sure to sample this warm and comforting drink to get an authentic taste of the country’s cuisine.
Taking a break from the afternoon heat is not uncommon in Burma. If you find yourself in the Irrawaddy Delta, head inside an open-air hut with a palm thatched roof to enjoy a refreshing remedy to the heat of the day.
Introducing Burma’s signature alcoholic drink, Palm Wine. Local farmers -or ‘Tappers’- will go to dangerous lengths to produce this delicious beverage. Scaling small rope ladders attached to the trunks of palm trees, the tappers will attach jars to collect sap from the palm leaves and allow it to ferment. Batches collected in the morning won’t be quite as strong as those from the afternoon harvest, but both provide a refreshing nutty taste.
If you’re wanting to sit back, relax and while away the hours in a beautiful and verdant landscape, this beverage is the perfect accompaniment.
During the dying hours of the day, the sky above Burma comes alive. Ablaze with a hundred shades of red, orange and yellow, there aren’t many better sunset spots than the islands of the Mergui Archipelago.
The crystal clear waters around the islands are some of the best in the world for divers, home to a wide array of marine wildlife including Dusky Langur Monkeys, Dugongs, and Manta Rays. There is, however, another that calls the archipelago their home; the Moken People. Also known as ‘Sea Gypsies’, the Moken live a nomadic life almost entirely on the water. Sat upon a shoreline, keep an eye out for these indigenous people navigating their house boats around the islands.
Stunning scenery, rich wildlife, and unique ways of life make the Mergui Archipelago one of the best spots to experience the variety of Burma.