Main Architecture Types in Myanmar

Main Architecture Types in Myanmar

Located in South East Asia, Myanmar is an unspoiled and stunningly beautiful country. Regarding architecture, the domination is given to the numerous number of Buddhist pilgrimage sites, well presenting aspects of Burmese culture. As Myanmar is filled with constructions of Buddhist pagodas, temples and monasteries, it is given the name “the Land of Pagodas”. Tours Indochina in Myanmar

Religious monuments, palaces and colonial buildings

The theme of renewal looms large in Myanmar culture – as can be seen in the large number of capital cities the country has had over the centuries – so traditional forms of architecture have not always stood the test of time.

A (massive) exception to this are the Buddhist temples and pagodas that can be found in every corner of Myanmar. The sheer number of them – leading Myanmar to be called ‘the land of a million pagodas’ – leave visitors in no doubt as to the deep religious tradition and devotion of Myanmar’s people. Tours in Myanmar

The gigantic golden monument to Buddhism, the Shwedagon Pagoda, and the thousands of temples on the plains of Bagan are perhaps the most breathtaking and famous examples, but they can be found in almost every village, and on every street corner, road or riverbank throughout most of central Myanmar (less so in the mountainous and predominantly Christian regions, such as Chin and Kachin states).

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The bigger pagodas are usually free to be explored, although you may sometimes have to find a local with a key to unlock the door – remember to always take off your shoes when entering. Pagodas also are often referred to as zedis, payas or stupas but whatever word is used, they are all mound-like structures that are used as places of worship and contain Buddhist relics.

Buddhist related sites

In Burmese language, the word ‘pagoda’ can be expressed in many ways: stupa, paya, or zedi. The most commonly used is “paya”, or “hpaya” – the synonymous expression of “Buddha”; “zedi” derives from Pali language; and “stupa” refers to pagoda enshrined Buddhist relics such as Buddha’s hair or teeth. Myanmar is among the South East Asian countries where stupas are in semi hemispherical designs topped with sharp peaks, representing Buddhists’ alms bowls and their sticks. On the other hand, monasteries are referred to as “hpongyi kyaung”. In addition, monasteries and pagodas are the meditation places for Buddhist monks, known as “hpongyi” in Burmese language.

In Myanmar, most pagodas are gold-gilded and bejeweled, creating spectacular constructions. The four most important Buddhist related sites of the country are Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, Mandalay’s Mahamuni Buddha Temple, Mon State’s Kyaikhtiyo Paya, and Bagan’s thousands of temples and stupas. In addition, the oldest pagoda in Myanmar is 2500-year-old Sule Zedi, located in Yangon.

Colonial buildings

Apart from Buddhist sites, as Myanmar used to be under the government of British colonization, some parts of the country are graced with marvelous colonial buildings from this time period. Typical examples are Ministers’ Building, an impressive edifice aided with monumental wings, and The Strand, a Victorian style hotel built in 1901 – both of those are located in Yangon.

People in Mekong delta Vietnam

People in Mekong delta Vietnam

LIFESTYLE OF PEOPLE IN MEKONG DELTA

Mekong Delta not only owns beautiful scenery of bright sunshine, blue sky and fresh air but also frenetic and exciting lifestyle of people here. Highlighted by the livelihood supported by the waterways of Mekong River, the lifestyle in Mekong Delta owns rustic appeal but dynamic and exotic beauty. Indochina tours Vietnam

People in Mekong Delta have various ways of living. Most of population live in the flat plains near the river and the other part live their floating lives. People living on land earn livings by farming and feeding. They gather to form villages or hamlets and keep close-connection between people in the same hamlet and among hamlets. These people live on planting wet rice, fruits or other agricultural products and feed the castles or making handicraft. Each province is famous for a particular product, for example, Ben Tre fames for its coconut candies and a variety made from coconut, Vinh Long becomes well-known with the making of conical leaf hats. Another traditional and unique way of living in Mekong Delta is floating lives. It has been clearly and vividly described in the famous movie “Floating lives”. These people accommodate on houseboats, moving their boats between fields to fish or feed castles in flood season of Mekong River.

MekongRiverattaches with many daily activities of people in Mekong Delta. The most beautiful and outstanding image of this lifestyle is floating market. Hundreds of boats gathering on the water surface, each sells a particular product: watermelon, pineapple, avocado, durian or plum, making the crowded and frenetic scenery. Mekong delta tours Vietnam

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Under the influence of reclamation, people of Mekong Delta have some common and typical characteristics. First of all, people in Mekong Delta are very strong-determined and hard-working. In the process of improving the soil and forming fields or orchards, people have to fight against the harsh nature which made people here not only strong-determined but also creative and sensible. In addition, the wealth of this land produced generous and hospitable people who are always welcome guests with their all sincere heart. One of the evidences is that houses in Mekong Delta are often higher, wider and more open to the outside world as compared to ones in the North and the Central. Moreover, they are quite flexible in many fields of daily life. For example, people in Mekong Delta prefer wearing simple clothes which are convenient and comfortable.

People in Mekong Delta live friendly with the environment. In the early days of settling, natural conditions had strong influence on their lives. For survival, people had to learn the way to adapt and get on well with the new environment. As a result, they got experience to exploit properly and treat friendly with environment. The precious experience has been inherited from generations to generations.

COMMON AND OUTSTANDING CHARACTERISTICS OF PEOPLE IN MEKONG DELTA

Mekong Delta – the meeting point of favorable natural conditions, international waterways and different cultures has built up a common and outstanding characteristic of people here – FORGIVENESS. This characteristic has lead to three main results that directly affect the culture, belief and values of people in Mekong Delta.

1. Forgiveness

First of all, forgiveness has lead to the multi-culture of Mekong Delta. During the reclaiming time, different ethnics with different culture and customs co-inhabit in a land; therefore, they had to accept and respect the others’ difference. Nowadays, ethnics live together in harmony; each has its own culture and lifestyle.

Secondly, different religions co-exist in the highest density in the country in Mekong Delta. There are at least four religions of Buddhism, Muslim, Christianity and Hindu in this land. Especially, there has been the interaction among different religions.

Thirdly, characteristic of people in Mekong Delta is the unity of extremely opposite characters. For example, people in Mekong Delta work extremely hard and then play excessively hard. Interestingly, when they love someone, they will show all their hearts and souls for the other; however, if they hate someone, they even do not want to look at or talk with that one. This characteristic of people in Mekong Delta conflicts with people in the north who favored harmony and equivocacy.

2. Dynamic

The dynamic in characteristic of people in Mekong Delta is a result of many factors.

First of all, Mekong Delta is a multi-cultural land, and the interaction between cultures is quite strong. Moreover, Mekong Delta has a long time under the governance of French colony and then the influence of American culture (in the 19th and 20th century). Secondly, the first immigrants into Mekong Delta are almost the unlucky ones (poor and low social status). Therefore, they had to struggle to survive: fight with harsh nature, find new ways to fish and farm. Due to the above reasons, almost people in Mekong Delta are dynamic which is reflected in their lifestyle.

Firstly, people in Mekong Delta are easily to change their places of living. They do not attach their whole life with a particular village like people in the north. If their current living place is not favorable, they will move to more fertile land to live and farm. It is also easy for people in Mekong Delta to change their jobs.

The dynamic in characteristic of people in Mekong Delta leads to many results. First of all, they are easily to adapt the new things (cuisine, costume, custom). The second result of the dynamic is the creativity. Their creativity is represented in innovations in fishing and farming as well as producing. Moreover, the dynamic is also the encouragement for the development of commerce and trading. While people in the north consider commerce as something bad, people in Mekong Delta. Last but not least, people in Mekong Delta have risk-taking spirit in doing business.

3. Emotional and righteous

The long history of reclamation has also formed the characteristics of emotional and righteous of people in Mekong Delta. People from difference lands came here, living and helping each other. As a result, people here respect relationship between them. They can make friend easily and promise to share happiness as well as sorrow. People in Mekong Delta are quite reckless but righteous. They are not afraid of the death; they are ready die for their brothers and friends. Especially, the way people here express their love is very drastic and direct which is reflected in folk-song: “Even if I die, I will never leave you behind” or “As this night is so nice, could you let me sleep beside?”

Emotional and righteous, people in Mekong Delta disregard for money because for them, strings attached people are the most important. They can give everything they have to others who are in need because they believe that property is easy come and easy go.

Emotional and righteous, people in Mekong Delta are amazingly hospitable. Any comes are also considered friend and warmly welcomed. People here will serve guests the best things they have because making guests happy and satisfied is their happiness.

Emotional and righteous, people in Mekong Delta are straightforward and blunt. They say what they think without considering about losing other’s face. For them, love or hate should be clearly expressed; there is no place for neutral attitude.

Cool things to do in Laos

Cool things to do in Laos

Watch the sun set over the Mekong

Head up to Phu Si Hill in the centre of town in Luang Prabang – you can’t miss it as it has a temple on top that can be seen from every angle. From here you get views of the mountains surrounding Luang Prabang and the point where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. Stunning. Mekong river cruise in Laos

See one of the nicest waterfalls in Asia

I spent 9 months travelling all over Southeast Asia and I must say that the Kuang Si Waterfall near Luang Prabang is the prettiest I saw. It features a large cascade from which you can jump down into pools below. A series of smaller azure-coloured falls and pools make for excellent swimming holes. (I hope you’re not ticklish, as little fish will be giving you a free pedicure…)

Take a hot air balloon ride in Vang Vieng

Take the chance to fly above Vang Vieng, Laos in a world-class hot air balloon, operated under strict international standards. Your pilot is an internationally trained hot air balloon pilot with years of experience, so there’s nothing to fear. Hot air ballooning is notoriously expensive but in Vang Vieng it is considered to be one of the cheapest places in the world to experience the andrenaline of floating over 900 metres in the air in nothing but a basket attached to a massive balloon. Tours in Laos

Thanks to Alex In Wanderland, we have some great pictures to show with you that she captured on her very own flight over Vang Vieng:

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This is one of the only ways in which to truly experience and see the beauty of the limestone mountains & forestry that Laos is famous for.

There are several launch sites around Vang Vieng that you will begin your journey from. Once in the air, you’ll have the chance to float over the Nam Song River, the beautiful mountains and the town of Vang Vieng itself.

After 40 minutes in the air, you’ll make your way back towards ground-level, where a truck will be waiting to take you back into town for a meal or some rest.

Learn to cook Laotian food

Tamarind restaurant in Luang Prabang does a great cooking course, but there are others around the country. There’s a great minced-meat stir fry dish in Laos called Laap, which I highly recommend eating, but I also recommend learning how to cook it!

Of the Lao menu, my personal favourites are the pumpkin curry, the stirfry pork & aubergine, chicken laap and the mok paa (fish steamed in banana leaf). Take note though – on busy nights you should be prepared to bring some patience with you. As each dish is cooked fresh from scratch, service can be slow; but if you have the time it’s worth the wait.

I felt it was high time I learned to cook some Lao food, which is not a hugely well known cuisine globally – unlike the dishes of neighbouring Thailand, China and Vietnam – but really deserves to be so. Lao food tends to be much lighter than Thai food and uses numerous flavorful fresh herbs and plants. Almost every meal is served up with a bamboo basket of glutenous sticky rice (known in Lao as kao niao) on the side. More information of Lao cuisine and its origins can be found here, or in one of the books listed at the end of this post.

Anyway, rather than join a big group at one of the cooking schools, I asked Toui if he would give me a private cooking lesson and teach me some Lao recipes.

Nung Ethnic in Ha Giang Vietnam

Nung Ethnic in Ha Giang Vietnam

Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with over fifty distinct groups (54 are recognized by the Vietnamese government), each with its own language, lifestyle, and cultural heritage. Many of the local ethnic groups are known collectively in the West as Montagnard or Degar. The largest ethnic groups are: Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Tai Ethnic 1.7%, Mường 1.5%, Khmer Krom (Khơ Me Crộm) 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nùng 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census). The Vietnamese term for ethnic group is literally “minority people”. Travel Indochina Vietnam

The Nùng (pronounced as noong [nuːŋ]) are an ethnic minority in Vietnam whose language belongs to the Central Tai branch of the Tai-Kadai language family. The Nùng sometimes call themselves as Tho (Vietnamese: Thổ, a shared name between the Tày and the Cuối, literally means Natives). In traditional times, they were sometimes referred by the Vietnamese as Thai. The term Thai Nung is also used to distinguish them with the Chinese Nùng who were the majority ethnic group in the Nung Autonomous Territory of Hai Ninh (1947-1954). The Nùng’s ethnic name is often mingled with the Tày as Tày-Nùng.

Nung people mainly distribute in Quan Ba district, they live in valleys nearly rivers, streams or hills and live on farming rice, with high cultivation technique. Their animal husbandry highly developed while other handicraft makings are very diverse such as forging, casting, carpenters, knitting, paper making and especially cloth weaving. North Vietnam tours

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Clothing mainly in an indigo color, the Nung women wear five-panel robes with buttons under the right armpit. Men wear shirts upright collar leaving open at breast and belly but having a row of cloth bottons and four pockets without cover.

According to the Vietnam census, the population of the Nùng numbered about 856,412 by 1999 and 968,800 by 2009. It’s estimated to be more than 1,000,000 in 2014 (based on the 2009 census and 5 years of population growth). In Vietnam, the Nùng are the third largest Tai-speaking group, preceded by the Tày and the Thái (Black Tai, White Tai and Red Tai groups), and sixth overall among national minority groups.
They are closely related to the Tày and the Zhuang. In China, the Nùng, together with the Tày, are classified as Zhuang people. The Nùng are divided into several sub-groups such as: Nùng Xuồng, Nùng Giang, Nùng An, Nùng Phàn Sình, Nùng Lòi, Nùng Cháo, Nùng Quý Rỉn, Nùng Dín, Nùng Inh, Nùng Tùng Slìn, Nùng Hàn Xích, Nùng Sẻng, Nùng Gửi, Nùng Vảng, Nùng Giang Viện, Nùng Si Kết, Nùng Vên (Én) etc.
Many of the Nùng’s sub-group names correspond to the geographic regions of the Nùng homeland. Hoàng Nam (2008:11) lists the following Nùng subgroups.

Clothing mainly in an indigo color, the Nung women wear five-panel robes with buttons under the right armpit. Men wear shirts upright collar leaving open at breast and belly but having a row of cloth bottons and four pockets without cover.

Culture

The Nung language resembles the Tay, and belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Nung have a written language called Nom Nung (Nung scripts) which has prevailed since the 17th century. The Nung have an abundant wealth of folk arts and cultural activities including folksongs and alternative songs (“sli”). The smooth melodies of the “sli” are harmonious with the natural sounds of the forests and mountains. This type of folksong is a combination of verse and music.

The “Lung Tung” (Going to the Fields) Ceremony is very well known and attracts many people of all ages. This ceremony is always organized on the first month of the lunar year.

They live in wide stilt house with the outer compartment reserved for men and ancestor worship and the inner one reserved for women. Nung people do not celebrate death anniversaries, which makes birthday (celebration of life) for those beyond 50 years old and worship for the dead on July 15th, of lunar calender.

Wedding ceremonies still preserve many ancient customs and the brother of the groom’s mother plays a very important role in representing the groom’s family in mariage proposal and organising all ceremonies related to the wedding. The Nung flokloric culture is very famous with the “Sli”, a love dialogue song of the youth.

Rail journeys in Myanmar

Rail journeys in Myanmar

When we were in our initial planning stage of our trip to Myanmar we read many a horror story of travellers experiences of train travel in Myanmar and many strongly suggested taking overnight buses instead. But I have to disagree. Any traveller who wants to experience real Myanmar needs to take at least one train journey. It is a great opportunity to get a insight into remote village life, see some of the country’s most scenic views and it is a rare opportunity to mix with the local people. Tours indochina Myanmar

We found that most of the travellers we met in Myanmar travelled around the country by bus. While we also used overnight buses, the trains in Myanmar offer upper class and overnight sleeper cabins, which gave us a more enjoyable journey – albeit being a bumpier ride than any other train I have ever been on!

With any mode of transport there are always downsides and benefits to both but this was our experience. I hope this article helps you to decide what is best for you and to point out some of the misconceptions some travellers have with train travel vs buses in Myanmar.

The legacy of British Burma can be found all over modern Myanmar. One notable hangover of colonial times is an extensive – if distinctly unmodernised – rail network. Despite extensive dilapidation many sections are still in full service to this day. We don’t usually recommend taking long-distance train trips in Burma – bumpy is an understatement! – but taking shorter journeys can be fun, adventurous, and – in certain areas of the country – breathtakingly picturesque. Myanmar travel packages

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The most famous stretch of track runs from the hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin across the 115-year old Gokteik Viaduct. This component of this dramatic bridge – spanning some 2,260ft and with a drop of 820ft down to a fast-running ravine – were shipped from Pennsylvania but the construction is a triumph of British-engineering. The section travelled runs from Naungkhio up to Kyaukme, from where you can either return to Pyin Oo Lwin, or head on to the charming Shan village of Hsipaw.

Further south in Shan state, a stunning stretch of track links rural idyll Kalaw with Shwenyaung, from where you can travel the remaining short distance to Inle Lake by road. Slower but more interesting than driving the whole route, but much quicker for those opting out of an overnight trek!

In the capital itself we often recommend spending an hour or two on Yangon’s famous suburban Circle Line. Starting and finishing in Central Station, you can ride the whole 3-hour circuit, or jump on and off at will. While the trains themselves are far from luxurious, the scenery is ever-changing and local life found inside and outside the carriage is never short of fascinating.

Finally, those venturing further south of Yangon can take a pleasant ride through the plains of the Irrawaddy Delta to Thaton. Thaton is the jumping off point for Mawlamyine – once capital of British Burma – which itself marks the former end-point of the infamous Burma-Siam ‘Death Railway’. We recommend a couple of days to take in Mawlamyine’s fading colonial glory, before heading back to the capital – potentially making a stop at the Golden Rock en route.

We have recently overhauled our ‘Temples and Trains’ tour to include all the above, but any individual journey can be built into a bespoke itinerary. Contact us today to find out more!

Y Ty travel guide

Y Ty travel guide

Tourism website thrillist.com has named Y Ty mountainous commune in Bat Xat District of northern Lao Cai Province as one of the best-kept secrets in Asian travel. Tonkin Elegance tour

The website said: “Y Ty sits atop Viet Nam’s highest plateau, offering spectacular views of cloud-reaching mountains and yellow rice patty fields. If you want to experience rural Viet Nam without straying far from the tourist centre of Sa Pa, this is your spot.”

The website also suggests meeting locals at Y Ty’s market where ethnic tribes sell traditional crafts and agricultural goods. Travel to Vietnam

The other destinations on the list are Kep, Cambodia; Vieng Xai, Laos; Gili Meno – Gili Islands in Indonesia; and Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

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Y Ty commune is located west of Bat Xat district, about 100 km from Lao Cai town. Y Ty is dub “foggy land” with gorgeous terraced fields and the most beautiful earth walled houses in Lao Cai.

Spend about 2-3 days or even a week depending on your time budget, you can even travel by motorbike from Hanoi to Y Ty, or better catch a night train from Hanoi, arriving in Lao Cai station in the early morning, a lot of domestic tourists travel to Lao Cai by sleeping bus which starts at My Dinh station.

Y Ty commune, Sapa, Lao Cai

Y Ty can be reached in 2 ways, which is more than 100 km each, one can start from Lao Cai, through Lung Po via Trinh Tuong where the Red river comes to Vietnam from China, pass through A Mu Sung before arriving in Y Ty, the path cuts through jungles, cardamon forests with sparse population and the villages nestled on the slopes. The road is challenging and not easy for even hardened bikers.

Another way is from Sapa to Muong Hum market, Den Thang to Y Ty, this path is easier, motorbikes and cars can go however just be careful as it is slippery there are many sharp bends.

Travelers can rent a motorbike from Lao Cai or Sapa to go to Y Ty, just choose ones in good conditions, make sure the brakes work and get your mind ready if there is anything wrong during the drive.

Y Ty lands deep in the mountains, surrounded by sheer mountains, all year round covered by dense white clouds, located at the altitude of 2000 metres above the sea level, leaning agains the Nhiu Co San peak of 2700 m high rarely see the sun shine all day, the town is nestled by the mountain, on the winding dirt road. As a peaceful valley, Y Ty is beautiful with clouds, mountains, jungle, terraced rice fields or the dirt walled houses belonging to Ha Nhi ethnic group.

Coming to Y Ty, travelers are amazed at the Saturday market, the weekly market is full of colours with Ha Nhi girls and women wearing big wigs round their heads, Hmong people with their traditional skirts or the colorful peacock scarf on the head of Dzao women. Produce brought to market are agricultural products made at home and handmade brocades, more specifically discover the beauty of earth houses considered the best in Lao Chai communes.

Accommodation:

There are not many options for tourists as all guest houses belong to villagers, the houses are simple and basic with limited electricity and water . Contact prior to coming and remember that foreign visitors need to arrange permit in order to spend the night in the village.

Food:

As un upland and distant place there are not many specialities to enjoy, however in return for such a trip travelers can try their ability as a cook with food brought along. On market days on Saturdays don’t forget to try Thang Co Ngua (soup made from horse)

Other considerations:

Road to Y Ty is pretty bad and slippery it is recommended that you bring along gloves for your hands and legs, that will keep warm and avoid scratches in case you fall off the bike.

Weather is different between day and night, bring with you warm clothes, sleeping bags, hats, blankets…You should bring extra fuel, food and drinks, instant noodle and if possible bring a dry alcoholic, small boilers for cooking along the way . A cup of hot coffee along the way is always an unforgettable experience.

Preparing for Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Preparing for Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year
Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet for short, is considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month in Lunar Calendar, Tet’s celebration is the longest holiday which may last up to seven days. Tours in Vietnam

How Tet is calculated?

Different from the Gregorian calendar, Lunar Calendar has a fix number of twelve months with 30 days each, and a leap-year will have a whole intercalary month instead of the 29th day of February. The new year of Lunar Calendar normally will start in late January or beginning of February according to Gregorian calendar. That explains why Tet days vary from year to year: it is because the leap month may fall shorter or longer which create a smaller or bigger gap between the two calendars.
The traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) is the biggest and oldest festival in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month in Lunar Calendar. Tet’s celebration is the longest holiday which may last up to seven days. Vietnam Cultural Highlights tours

Tet is an occasion when members of a family, no matter where they are and what they do to earn a living, get together and pray in front of the ancestral altar. Their return to home in celebration of Tet is regarded as a journey back to their birthplace. During these days, people are welcome a new coming year with good health, lucks and success.People consider what they do on the dawn of Tet will determine their fate for the whole year, hence people always smile and behave as nice as they can in the hope for a better year. Besides, gifts are exchanged between family members and friends and relatives, while children receive lucky money kept in red envelope.

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In the days leading up to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year 2016, the boisterous atmosphere of the Festival has filled every part of the country.

Here are some photos which depict the cheerful and exciting atmosphere leading up to Tết holiday.

Happy new year 2016! Wishing you a happy and magical New Year. We hope it brings you lots of joy and happiness. All the best.