Burma / Myanmar May 16 2013

Burmese ladies and men wear a long cloth sewed in a circle reaching from waste till ankle, called a Longyi. Even-though Burma shares the tradition of wearing the Longyi with India and Sri Lanka amongst other Asian nations, the Burmese ladies in particular look very elegant, tall and sophisticated in the narrow fitting long skirts. 

Both men and woman are creative with the way they wear or use their Longyi. Men, often fold the fabric double between their legs when working in the field. Woman lift the fabric until under their arms when washing their hair at the local water pump or in the sea. Burmese also use similar fabric to protect their head when carrying water in the Bangladeshi silver pots or on with one end of their Longyi on their shoulder to carry heavy material on.The Longyi in Myanmar comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns with the men usually wearing checkered or horizontally striped fabrics and the ladies anything from one colour to flowers or leaves as pattern.

Burmese ladies and kids, and sometimes men, wear Thanaka on their faces, a paste made from ground bark. It is believed to be cooling and protect agains sunburn. Usually a round circle is made on both cheeks but fishermen, working in the heavy sun, are sometimes seen to protect their whole face and arms with the paste.

The country is a great mixture of minority groups (of whom some live in very harsh conditions) with local traditions of face tattoo (Chin people) and neck rings (Kayan people). After visiting so many places in Asia, Burma is still my favourite destination. I travelled their in April 2011 when the Burmese government just started its reforms but with all sanctions still in place. I went back in July 2013 to buy more fabrics and enjoy the great hospitality of the Burmese people.