January 19, 2015

there are a couple of things that are striking when you first arrive in Myanmar. 

the first is what the men wear.  about half of the men wear the traditional dress.  it's called the longi.  patterns and styling reflect different ethnic groups and are worn for both formal and casual occasions.  after a while it seems normal because you see this everyday. 

the second thing that pops out at you is the paste the women wear on their faces. thanaka is a yellowish white paste made from grinding the bark of a tree.  the women of Myanmar are as vain as the western women and value a clear complexion.  the thanaka is a natural sunscreen.  it's common to see the young girls wearing it as well as the older women.  i see it everywhere on the streets, markets and shops but not in the office or other professional settings.

the third thing is the betel chewing.  areca nuts are chewed inside a betel leaf and are a mild stimulant like drinking a cup of coffee.  like chewing tobacco the saliva is not ingested.  instead they spit out the red juice from the nuts and the streets are covered with disgusting patches of red spit.
besides being carciongenic the effects on the teeth are also quite brutal.   a lot of places post notices prohibitting it.

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