Thứ Hai, 13 tháng 8, 2018

Myanmar’s unique Novitiation Ceremony

In burma, boys all must experience one or several times of “monk-hood”. They will leave their home and be sent to a monastery or pagoda to practice prior deciding whether to become a lifelong monk or give up the robe after that.

Novitiation ceremony (or Shinbyu Pwe) is the most important ceremony in a whole life of a Burmese men. To them, since they were born, if they inclue not ever gone into a pagoda or monastery once, they inclue not been a fantastic Buddhist yet. Also according to the belief of Buddhists here, the fact that their son become monks can create a grand career for family.


Shinbyu Pwe - special ceremony


In early morning, new novices are applied makeup, wearing Burmese traditional costumes, and are taken to a special place to begin the ceremony. This is an chance that parents be able to be proud of their children.

Organizers will announce the Shinbyu Pwe ceremony and open music to call upon people to donate alms bows and robes for new novices. After the announcement, the children ride horse decorated splendidly, shielded from the sun by a parasol, and marching around their neighborhood to the monastery or pagoda. The horse is led by an orchestral band headed by a clown with a moustache called U Shwe Yoe holding a parasol and dancing merrily.

The children must wear the costumes like a royal prince or king and usually ride horse. They symbolize the image of prince Siddhartha when he renounced the world, as he left his palace (also his family, wife, newborn son, his title and the world he used to be) to go into the forest and commence the intense meditation until becoming the enlightened person (Buddha hood).

However, some novices may be taken on the shoulder of their close relatives if they cannot afford to ride horse, while it could be exaggerated by letting the children ride on elephant back or more luxurious on Toyota Land Cruiser Cygnus depending on budget of every family. In fact, the form of riding horse around neighborhood before going into a pagoda now just takes destination in rural areas or small cities. In broad cities such as Yangon, families usually use cars to take their children into pagoda.

In a procession of Shinbyu Pwe, parents of the novice stand at top, carrying all necessary items that he will need at the monastery (robe, alms bow, hand fan, water filters and razor, all that 5 requisites) and some add-ons (not a must) like grass mat, pillows, blanket, etc. Behind, sisters or the most attractive belles will take on their hand a betel box and flowers. The father of the novice usually holds a triangular bell, striking at a certain pace in accordance with his walking time. He will say “Amyah” (means I share my merit by making this deed) while citizen who hear the bell ring could say Sadu for three times (means well done…well done… well done).
boy-on-horse-novitiation-ceremony
A boy on horse back shielded from the sun by a parasol

boy-on-elephant-back-novitiation-ceremony
And a boy on elephant back

U-Shwe-Yoe-clown-dance-novitiation-ceremony
U Shwe Yoe - clown dance (Photo: Moe Swe via flick)

a-Shinbyu-procession-novitiation-ceremony
A Shinbyu procession, the father holds a triangular bell and strike,
attractive belles take on hand a betel box or flowers. (Photo: Moe Swe via flick)

Shinbyu Pwe ceremony in details

In monastery, Buddhist monks will explain the benefit of novitiation to parents and children. Subsequently, boys will be shaved their head, wearing a Buddhist robe. As from that moment, the child will not have any property. With bare-head and bare-foot bringing along a bowl, he will adventure beg for alms every morning. In the remaining time, novices will learn Burmese scripts, Buddhist scriptures by Pali language and everything concerning to Buddhism. burmese people inclue the notion that “when a child be able to drive birds away in fields, it means that he or she could go into a monastery or pagoda”. But in fact, children be able to become a Buddhist novice as they are able to recite Buddhist scriptures by Burmese and Pali language. Boys normally ought to go into a monastery or pagoda by the age of 20.

Time length of monk-hood of a child is various, be able to be few days, few weeks or few years. A child also may become a novice in tremendous times. Many children after going into a monastery or a pagoda, if this life is not suited to them or they want to return the secular life for further study or to be married, they will return home. Every month, monasteries and pagodas all possess novices secularizing to come back to the normal life. Of course, children getting diseases of cancer, scabies or asthma will not be permitted to become a Buddhist monk.

Formerly, novitiation ceremony was held lavishly in each family, so it is known as a costly festival. Burmese parents consider holding this ceremony as making merit. If parents do not own enough money to hold this ceremony, their relatives and friends will support a part of budget for them. Thingyan festival is the favorite opportunity to carry out this Shinbyu Pwe. But today, it is held all year-round, depending on picking of the ideal day and month of each area.
novitiation-ceremont-shinbyu-pwe

Trek Kalaw and meet Ethnic people

Kalaw is a former colonial British hill station in western Shan State of burma (Burma), at 1320m above the sea level, 50 km from Inle lake.

Kalaw has natural atmosphere, cool and refreshing climate, and breathtaking spectacle. It is well-known as a trekking mecca of myanmar and an ideal region for colorful hill tribe and agricultural life discovery.

Kalaw town is set amongst glamorous pine forests. Many colonial-era buildings constructed by British in Kalaw remain with various states of decay. They are quaint, eerily calm and seemingly undisturbed.

Kalaw blends influences of Indian and Nepalese culture. This region has a significant population of Nepali Gurkhas, Indian Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who were brought to Kalaw by the British to build the railway line.

As an untouched and pristine region, trekking and visiting villages in Kalaw is an incredible way to acquire impressive experiences. These are some special places that you may trek in Kalaw.
++ Suggested tour: Trekking from Kalaw to Inle lake in 7 days with price start from $730/person

Trekking between Kalaw and Inle lake or to surround hills

From Kalaw, you can trek to Inle, setting foot on beaten tracks and getting tastes of the life of the local Danu, Pa-oh, Palaung, Shan and Taungyoe ethnic groups.

Hiking Kalaw is an endless series of ups and downs through lush bamboo and teak forests but none particularly steep. You will be impressed by striking cultivated land, pine trees, tea, cheroots, oranges, bananas, canola, loveable rice fields, corn, cabbages, eggplant, potatoes, other vegetables and expansive views of surrounding hills. On trekking roads, you will meet really non-touristy scenes of the local life, farming, cooking and even bathing. Children have impartial smiles, although they are carrying their siblings on their back. Young teenagers harvest tea leaves. Palaung people sing Burmese songs happily without understanding the words and making numerous mistakes. And it is fine if you are welcome to grow local trees for forest recovery.

Specially, along the street, beside villages, you can relax for lunch and spend night in monasteries. Going toward Inle lake, you can be overnight at Buddhist temples or local tribe farmsteads.

In villages, there are numerous families living in a long house, about 7 families with over 60 citizen. For privacy, each couple of parents has a small walled enclosure where they rest. Inhabitants in some villages produce a stack of handy craft and weaving products like fabric, scarves, hats, etc. Just only about five villages in Kalaw are permitted to host foreigners.

++ Suggested tour: Untouched Loilaw trek to Kalaw in 06 days with price begin from US$650/person

Local markets

numerous local markets are rotating markets, typical outdoor markets, with nothing for tourists and everything belongs to locals like meat, agriculture products, herbs and spices.

Villagers from the surrounding hills come to the large central market in Kalaw town to sell their produce. There are plenty of attractive and cheap handy crafts you be able to buy. Most of the town’s restaurants and food stalls stand surround the market and propostion a wide range of food. Many dishes contain origin from India and Nepal.


Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp

Founded in 2011, this area has been well conserved view, and is a attraction of Kalaw travel. Local ecology, elephants and traditions of indigenous citizen are protected. Green Hill valley is the habitat of various birds, butterflies, orchids and bamboo forests.

Taking a splendid trek to Shan countryside in Green Hill valley, you may learn skills of the mahout (elephant driver) and carry knowledge about habit of elephant keepers. Joining in bathe duties for elephants if you want. Mahouts do not encourage elephant riding, but short rides can be carried out depending on the weather and health of elephants. Baskets must not be used on elephants.

Other unique locations

Also in the centre of Kalaw town is the Aung Chang Tha stupa, which glitters by silver and gold glass mosaics. You be able to head up to the Thein Taung Pagoda, which is in the northern Union Highway (the main road through Kalaw).

A pleasant walk south of the central market takes you to the Hnee Pagoda, where you will realize a 500-year-old bamboo Buddha, and the Shwe U Min Pagoda (Shwe Oo Min Paya), a cave filled with golden Buddha statues. On these steps in the surrounding hills, you will find reminders of British colonial times, like restored cottages and a different kind of religious monument – Christ the King Church. This is a good instance of active Christian worship in burma, with well known daily mass and Sunday services.

Kalaw has the Tazaungman Full Moon Festival, which takes destination in late October or early November, and features road parades, music and fireworks.

Trekking in Kalaw may be enjoyed at any time of year, despite cool season is the most agreeable. Occasional rain shower can makes the trek tougher a bit.

Joining a trek in Kalaw, you may stub a toe, catch a cobweb and perhaps slip in mud, but the rewards are spectacular scenery, the plain and silent village life or, well, just a lonely quiet moment hearing twitters of birds and far rumble voices gone with the wind reaching you.


Myanmar's captivating street Food

As an enigmatic country, myanmar is also attractive for its first cuisine based on distinctly indigenous ingredients. Strolling around the streets in the country and trying some special dishes, it is not demanding to realize this characteristic.

1. Burmese sweet snacks

Commonly known as “moun”, Burmese sweets are not used as desserts such as in the West but rather as snacks, particularly taken with tea in the morning or afternoon.
And, while sweets elsewhere in Southeast Asia are coated with sugar, sweet flavor of “moun” are gotten from the local ingredients such as coconut, jaggery, palm, rice, tapioca, fruit, etc.

Here are some striking Burmese sweets:
- Sanwin makin: a semolina cake made of semolina flour, sugar, butter, eggs, grated coconut and coconut milk; walnut and raisins are optionally supplemented.
- Beinmoun: Burmese-style pancakes or poppy seeded pancake; a round, yellow fried cake with its ingredients including rice flour, jaggery, coconut, poppy seed and butter. This is a fragrant and tasty pancake.
- Mote Lone Yay Paw: Burmese floating rice balls stuffed with palm sugar and put grated coconut on top. The dish is served free on the streets during Thingyan New Year Festival.

Burmese-sweet-snacks

2. E Kyar Kway (Burmese youtiao)

The cake is made of bloating-fried rice flour, quite renowned and having a abnormal taste. It is a favorite breakfast dish of the locals. It beautiful looks like “quay” of Vietnam, Chinese doughnut and “kway” of Malaysia. However, Burmese citizen usually dip it in tea or coffee. This dish is truly easy to meet on burma’s street.

E-kyar-kway-Myanmar

3. Deep-fried stuffs

A wide-spreading, available nice of food on the streets of Yangon is deep-fried stuffs. In burma, it is practically unable to avoid fried foods.
Some main stuffs easily found on the Burmese streets – spring rolls, meat, aquatic food, fruits, vegestables, tofu, sweets, breads - are deep-fried, crispy or crunchy.
One deep-fried dish definitely worth seeking out is “buthi kyaw”, battered and deep-fried chunks of gourd. When served hot, the thin, crisp layer hides a soft, slightly watery interior of tender gourd. The fritters are typically served with a sour, sweet dip made from tamarind, added bean flour, and then the savory is awaken.

deep-fried-stuff-Myanmar-street-food
Deep-fried shrimps

deep-fried-stuff-Myanmar-street-food
An Indian seller offers deep-fried banana and potatoes

4. Shan-style rice

Shan-style rice is a wonderful dish of Shan people, one of the main ethnic minorities in burma. It is known in Burmese as “nga htamin” (fish rice). Rice is cooked with turmeric and squashed into a plate; then it flakes of freshwater fish and garlic oil is put on top. Formerly, fish is marinated with garlic and chili peppers.
This dish is pungent and extremely spicy but it brings again an extraordinary feeling. Oily and savory, Shan rice be able to be served with leek roots, raw garlic, deep-fried pork rinds, roasted peanuts, boiled eggs or seasonal vegetables. Shan rice be able to be found in nearly food-stalls on the streets.

Shan-style-rice


5. Nangyi thoke

A typical dish of noodles that travelers may see on the streets and markets in myanmar from morning until evening. Noodles are made of rice flour similar to “pho” of Vietnam but “nangyi thoke” fibres are quite thick and round, served with chicken, thin slices of fish, boiled eggs and par-boiled bean sprouts. In processing, the ingredients are seasoned with a mixture of roasted chickpea flour, turmeric and chili then tossed by hand. The dish is served along with a bowl of broth and pickled vegetables.
Nangyi thoke is considered as the Burmese version of spaghetti.

Nan-gyi-thoke-Burmese-spaghetti


6. Mohinga

A beloved breakfast dish in myanmar, but “mohinga” is sold by mobile street hawkers and roadside stalls, generally available at any time throughout the day and in most part of the country. As a result, it is unofficially dubbed as the burma’s national dish.
Mohinga is fine, round rice noodles served with fried fish and magnificent broth, often supplemented with the crunchy stem of the banana tree. Some its remarkable ingredients are chickpea flour, lemongrass, ginger and fish sauce.
Optional toppings comprise a sliced hard-boiled egg, fish cakes, deep-fried crispy veggies (onions, chickpeas), corianders and spring onions. The dish is additionally seasoned with a squeeze of lime and flakes of dried chili depending on every private palate.

Mohinga-Burmese-cuisine

7. Shan-style noodle

Another Shan-style dish can be found on the streets, which is a combination of thin, flat rice noodles in a pure, peppery broth with marinated chicken or pork, garnished with toasted sesame, peanut and a drizzle of garlic oil. It is served with pickled vegetables. The "dry" version, with a bowl of broth served on the side, is also common.
Compared with most Burmese noodle dishes, it’s quite simple, attaining to a mild taste, but is reassuringly pleasant and obviously yummy.

Shan-style-noodle

8. Samosa salad

Samosa salad or “samosa thoke” is the main dish in Burmese culinary. Not like other kinds of salad made of vegetables, samosa is made of bloating fried cakes. Every stall will own a differently individual flavor but in basically, it silent includes sliced samosa (a triangular cake stuffed inside potatoes, turmeric, beans), green peas, cabbages, garlic chives and tomatoes.
When serving, the buyer will add a little coriander and lemon juice to waken up the aroma.

samosa-salad-Burmese-food

9. Tea leaf salad (lahpet thoke – lahpet: green tea; thoke: salad)

perhaps fermented or pickled tea leaf salad, known as lephet thoke, is the most known for Burmese food. The tart leaves are eaten on an contain way - salad.
To make the dish, the sour, slightly bitter and soft leaves are mixed by hand with shredded cabbage, crunchy deep-fried beans, crisp roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, a splash of garlic oil and pungent dried slices of chili and garlic. Chopped tomatoes and dried shrimps are also added optionally. All the ingredients are served separatedly into individual piles so that guests be able to choose ones they such as then mix in their contain way.
The dish is flexible. It may be a snack, an appetizer or coupled with a plate of rice as a meal. It’s also considered a stimulant: the Burmese says that eating too much “lephet thoke” could prevent rest.

tea-leaf-salad


Chủ Nhật, 12 tháng 8, 2018

Mandalay - Land of burma antique Capitals

The area around Mandalay city is very glorious in antique capitals, which leave countless valued historic and religious relics. Thanks to this, it is considered as the most important cultural hub of myanmar.


1. MANDALAY CAPITAL


Mandalay is now Myanmar’s second largest city, but if pull out the history in 19th century, it be able to notice that its role was not less important than it is today. Mandalay imperial capital was founded at the foot of Mandalay Hill by King Midon in 1857, ostensibly to fulfill a prophecy of the foundation of a Buddhism metropolis in an exact place on the 2,400th Buddhism jubilee. To construct this new capital, the former royal palace of Amarapura was dismantled, and materials were moved by elephants to the new location.
The capital is surrounded by four rivers. For the following 26 years, Mandalay was the ultimate royal capital of Konbaung Dynasty, the last individual Burmese kingdom before its last annexation by British Empire. It ceased to be the capital in 1885.

Relics till current days
Mahamuni Pagoda (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Mahamuni Paya (Mahamuni: the wonderful Sage; Paya: Buddhist temple)
This pagoda is one of Myanmar’s most important pilgrimage sites, founded in 1785 and located southwest of Mandalay. Mahamuni image, which was taken from Mrauk U after Konbaung Dynasty conquered the Kingdom of Mrauk U, is very much deified in here. It is highly venerated such an extent that Burmese devotees inclue pasted thick layers of gold leaves on it, morning ritual of face cleansing of Mahamuni takes site daily, and women are forbidden to approach it.
Kuthodaw Pagoda (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Kuthodaw pagoda (Kuthodaw: royal merit)
Settled on the foot of Mandalay Hill and constructed by King Midon in 1868, Kuthodaw pagoda contains the world’s largest book, which stands upright, sets in stone, and spreads on the pagoda’s ground with 729 stone tablets carved Burmese Buddhist scripture.
Mandalay Royal Palace, Mandalay, Myanmar
* Mandalay Palace
It is the final imperial palace of the ultimate Burmese monarchy, the main royal residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the two last kings of the country. It was built between 1857 and 1859 after King Midon’s decision to relocate capital.
Shwenandaw Monastery (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Shwenandaw Monastery (or Golden Palace Monastery)
Built in 1880 by King Thibaw Min, son of King Mindon Min, it is very well-known thanks to its teak carvings of Buddhist myths on the walls and roofs. It is a typical construction of traditional Burmese architectural style.

* Sandamuni Pagoda
Situated southwest of Mandalay Hill, this pagoda was erected by King Mindon in 1874, with aim to be memorial to Mindon's younger brother, Kanaung Mintha, who was assassinated along with other three princes, Malun, Sagu Minthu, and Maingpyin during the 1866 Myingun Prince rebellion. It covers the graves of these four murdered Princes and an iron image cast in 1802.

2. AMARAPURA CAPITAL

Amarapura was founded by King Bodawpaya of Konbaung Dynasty in 1783 as his new capital and also a center of Buddhist reforms and learning. It was the capital of burma twice during Konbaung period (1783–1821 and 1842–1859) prior lastly being supplanted by Mandalay in 1859.

Due to the royal treasury depleted by the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, Mindon decided to reuse as tremendous materials from Amarapura as possible in the construction of Mandalay. Its palace buildings were disassembled and caried by elephants to the new location, and the city walls were pulled down for use as building materials for roads and railways.
Until now, part of the moat is still recognizable near the Bagaya Monastery.

Relics till current days
* U Bein bridge: It spans over Taungthaman lake and is just the world’s oldest and longest teak wood bridge.
When the capital shifted to Mandalay, the residents in Amarapura made use of teak wood from the imperial palace to erect this bridge. It is 1.2km long and consists of 1086 main pillars and thousands of boards. It was curved in the middle to resist assaults of wind and water.
U bein bridge, Mandalay Myanmar

3. INWA CAPITAL


It is an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms for almost 360 year, on five separate periods, from 1365 to 1842.
Inwa became the capital of Ava Kingdom, the main polity of Upper myanmar from the 14th to 16th centuries. After undergoing repeated attacks and sieges in the ultimate time of Ava Dynasty, it was chosen as a royal capital again on four periods of Toungoo and Konbaung Dynasties (16th to 19th centuries).
Throughout history, it was sacked and rebuilt many times. The capital was finally abandoned after it was completely destroyed by a series of significant earthquakes in March 1839, and King Tharrawaddy decided to rebuild a new palace in Amarapura in 1842. However, few traces of its former grandeur remain until now.

Relics till current days
Inwa Myanmar by HIT Indochina

* Nanmyin Leaning Tower: a watchtower
* Yadana Hsimi Pagodas - A small group of stupa ruins left after the earthquake.
* Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery: A brick monastery built in 1818 different from traditional Burmese monasteries, which are constructed with wood, not masonry.
* Bagaya Monastery: This teak wood monastery was first built in 1593. After burnt in the fire in the reign of King Bagyidaw, it was reconstructed in 1992. It’s known as “Monastic college" where the royals were educated.

4. SAGAING CAPITAL


With numerous Buddhist monasteries, Sagaing is a meaningful religious and monastic center of myanmar. See again the past, it used to be the imperial capital of Sagaing Kingdom (1315–1364), one of the minor kingdoms that rose up after the fall of Pagan Dynasty.
During the Ava period (1364–1555), this city was the common fief of the crown prince and senior princes. It also had a brief time to be the royal capital between 1760 and 1763 under the reign of King Naungdawgyi (Konbaung Dynasty).

Relics till current days
U Min Thonze Cave - Myanmar Mandalay
* U Min Thonze cave
This pagoda comprises of 45 charming gilded Buddha images in a crescent-shaped colonnade, partly built on the side of Sagaing Hill. Each Buddha statue is featured in different sizes and facial expression.
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Soon U Ponya Shin pagoda
It is based on Nga-pha Hill, one of the southern hilltops of Sagaing Hill. According to a legend, it was built overnight in early 1300s.
This pagoda features a central 97ft-high gilded stupa, some delightful paintings and statues, and great views over the landscape below. It is originally decorated with glass tiles for an rare shimmering effect.

5. SHWEBO CAPITAL


The city was the origin of the Konbaung Dynasty, established by King Alaungpaya in 1752, which was the i political force in burma after the mid-18th century. It served as Alaungpaya's capital from 1752 to 1760.
Up to 1752, Shwebo was a village, called Moksobo. In 1752, the chief of the village - Aung Zeya - founded the Konbaung Dynasty to resist the upcoming invasion of Lower burma and renamed his village as Shwebo. Over the next eight years, Alaungpaya led the reunification of myanmar with Shwebo as his capital. Shwebo lost its capital status after Alaungpaya's death in 1760. The successor Naungdawgyi moved the capital to Sagaing closer to Irrawaddy river. The region then was usually held as an appanage by the most senior princes.

Relics till current days
* Shwebo palace (Shwebonyadana Mingala Nandaw)
* Myodaung Pagoda
* Shwe Chattho Pagoda: built in the place where King Alaungpaya was born.
* Mahananda Lake
* Tomb of Alaungpaya
* Shwetaza Buddha Image
* The auspicious ground (Maha Aung Myay)

6. OTHER RELICS OF DYNASTIES AND REIGNS


* From 1790, King Bodawpaya (6th king of the Konbaung Dynasty) ordered to construct a gigantic pagoda, a gigantic bell and a gigantic couple of lions during his reign until he was died in 1819.

Relics till current days:
Mingun Pagoda (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Mingun Pahtodawgyi (or Mantalagyi - good Royal Stupa)
This incomplete monument stupa is a massive construction project started from 1790. However, when the king was died, it was deliberately left unfinished and halted. Mantalagyi had attained a height of 50 meters, one third of the intended height. A huge earthquake in 1839 caused huge cracks on it.
Mingun Bell (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Mingun bell:
It was cast to go with Mantalagyi in 1808. Until now, Mingun bell has been in good ringing condition with no cracks. It does not make clangs but is rung by brilliant the outer edge. In history, it had been the world’s heaviest functioning bell at several times. The original weight of the bell is 55,555 viss. This number is conveniently remembered by many burmese people as a mnemonic, and carved on the surface of the bell.

Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar
* Kaunghmudaw Pagoda (in Monywa)
This pagoda was constructed from 1636 to 1648 during the reign of King Thalun (8th king of Toungoo dynasty), very well-known for its unlikely egg-shaped design, which stands out more the traditional pyramid-shaped style of Burmese pagodas. The yellow domed house is 46m tall, featuring a grand white marble Buddha image in its core and a relic chamber. Over 800 stone pillars along with image-filled niches circle it.

Hsinbyume Pagoda (Mandalay, Myanmar)
* Hsinbyume Pagoda
It was constructed in 1816 by King Bagyidaw (7th king of the Konbaung Dynasty) in north of Mingun to commemorate his primary consort and also cousin, Princess Hsinbyume, who was died in childbirth in a destination nearby. This pagoda was painted in white and modeled the physical description of the Buddhist legendary mountain, Mount Meru. Seven concentric terraces symbolizes for the seven mountain ranges going up to the Mount.

Myanmar Tour FAQs updated

This is our newest update about Myanmar travel settings with 23 FAQs for the updated infomation. Check it out for the best preparation of your excited coming Myanmar holidays.

1. Burma or Myanmar? Where is the country?

Both names mean exactly the same and suffer the same insufficiency as both assigns the name of the ruling ethnic group (namely the ‘Bamar’, or ‘Burmans’, or ‘Myanmar’) to the whole country, thus repeating a pattern of discrimination or complacency towards minorities.
The name ‘Myanmar’ was adopted by the regime in 1989 without any democratic legitimization. While we don’t actually mind using ‘Myanmar’, we would definitely prefer if this change would retrospectively be confirmed by a genuinely democratic decision.
Myanmar is the largest country in mainland of Indochina Peninsular. The country shares border with: China in North East, India in North West,Bangladesh in South West, Laos in Central East, Thailand in South East.

2. Is Myanmar safe for travel?

Yes, definitely. The country is very safe for travel, even travel alone. The people mostly follow Buddhism and practice the Buddha’s lessons in their daily lives. Then they are very friendly, honest and willing to help others.
Myanmar is the colonial of UK for centuries. English is the second nationwide language after Burmese.

3. What is the best time to take a tour to Myanmar?

Roughly saying, the best time is about from October until April next year. It does not mean that from May to Sep, you cannot travel in Myanmar. During this time, the weather is quite hot (as in Bagan) or there is heavy rain that makes most of the beaches shut down, balloon services as Balloon over Bagan stopped. With good preparation and avoiding beach activities from May to Sep, the remaining parts of the country are big and beautiful enough for your Myanmar tour and it is even more joyful while you may get sweet, amazing discounts.

4. Myanmar is a big country, which places do you recommend?

Discover the whole Myanmar can cost you 1 month or more. For regular travelers, there are 4 most highlighted places you should take into your account:
  • Yangon: the former capital city with iconic symbol of Myanmar - Shwedagon pagoda
  • Bagan: The largest archeological site with 2200 stupas.
  • Inle Lake: the magical lake on mountain – the true heaven for nature and adventure.
  • Mandalay: the ancient city with Royal relics.

Those four places can be done within 8-9 days tour as a minimum for best enjoyment. You can do it longer in each depending on personal interest. The extensions from those places can be Ngapali beach, Mawlaymaiy, Kengtung, Putao, Mrak U, Mergui and more.

5. How many days I should spend in Myanmar?


Mostly recommended Myanmar package tours is running from 10 – 14 days. This is quite enough time for you to explore the best highlights of the country while still have sometimes for insight discoveries at each stop. We can do it longer or shorter very much depending on your requests

6. Can you do Visa for me?

Since Sep 2014, all tourist visa can be done via Internet portal https://evisa.moip.gov.mm. None of the travel agents can do it in another way. If you find any difficulties, you can send us your personal information and we could submit on your behalf. The processing fee is 50$ as indicated on the portal.

7. Is it expensive to travel to Myanmar?

To be frank, a package tour to Myanmar will cost you higher than similar standard tours in Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia. The reason is all of the limitation of available services, especially in high season. We take an example: good 3-star hotels in Vietnam is around 40$/room/night, in Cambodia can be as cheap as 30$ while in Myanmar, you have to pay up to 70$/room/night for the similar standard.
The good news is that with just a few years opened to the world, there have been several international hospitality companies entering Myanmar to seek for investment opportunities. We observed the remarkable, positive changes since late 2014 and do expect the service rates in Myanmar soon inexpensive within few coming years.

8. It's quite out of my pocket. Can you offer the cheaper option?

Yes, of course. We inspected and stayed by ourselves in small, budget hotels to carefully pick the most suitable ones. We definitely can offer you an affordable package with comfortable enough stays. (more myanmar accommodation)

9. Is HIT Indochina a local company?


Yes, we are. HIT Indochina Travel Limited Company Myanmar is a local organization and a branch of HIT Indochina Company based in Vietnam. Our business license is 1352-2015/2016 (YGN) and Myanmar International Tour license is KHA-2959 (more about us)
We separate our process in two phase: Pre-Tours – Salesman in Vietnam handles the quotes and customized requests due to their excellent experiences, quicker Internet, safer Online payment gateway – and On Tours that handles by our branch office with our local Burmese staffs who are always available on phone or meet you in person if requested.
HIT Indochina contacts directly to all suppliers in Myanmar such as hotels, transportation companies, guides etc. And delivers those services to you. You don’t have to pay extra for any "middle man".

10. How long we should book a Myanmar tour in advance?

In other destinations, we often say the sooner the better but this fact somehow is NOT true in Myanmar. Just because the suppliers cannot provide their rates for too far future. We believe that from 2 – 4 months is the best. The minimum booking time should not be within 2 weeks to arrival date, especially in high season.

11. I want to join in a group. Do you offer?


We are sorry that we do not offer joined-group tours until this post updated. All our tours are offered on customized and private basis.

12. I travel alone - do I have to pay the single supplement?

Yes, you do. Myanmar is a newly opened country and the service suppliers seem not single-travelers-friendly that much. You will have to pay single supplement while we will try our bests to minimize the costs.

13. How can I pay you?

You can pay us via Cards: VISA, MASTER, JCB and Amex with our secure Online Payment Gateway named Onepay or Bank transfer to our bank account. Those are our favorite payment receiving methods. We are very open to your convenient choice, too.
You will pay via those methods the deposit only (often running from 20 – 30% total booking value). The balance will be paid when you ARE in Myanmar..

14. Why the payment page is "onepay.vn"?

Onepay.vn is the secured payment gateway that takes the advantages of SSL technology – similar to Paypal. Onepay is simpler than Paypal and doesn't need any account sign-up or login. HIT Indochina assigns to Onepay to process all our online transactions on our behalf. (more on payment processing).

15. I don’t want something classic. Can you offer anything different?

Yes, we can absolutely. HIT Indochina has a section of real adventure since 2006 then we definitely know how to make your trip to Myanmar completely a different adventure. We can deal with mountain trekking in Putao, hiking in Kalaw, kayaking in Mergui and/or cycling tours in Myanmar etc. Contact to our team for details.

16. After deposit, how do I know you processed the services for me?


Each of our tours, when confirmed, will be given a tour code eg: MTC150215Angie. This code is sent to all suppliers included in your tour. The easiest way to check up your services ready yet is to call to the hotels, for instance, and tell them about the code + our company name. You will find out our bookings for your Myanmar package.

17. What is the room included in the tour quotation?

Room included in our Myanmar package tours are twin/double shared room at 3 star standard hotels in main cities. At more remote areas where standard hotels are not available, clean rooms with en-suite bathrooms in good guest houses are our choice. (more Myanmar accommodation)

18. How is about the meal included?

We often include one (01) welcome dinner in our tour quotes. The meal is often in a fine restaurant with Burmese cuisines. The Burmese cuisine is much influenced by Indian style with many types of curries, spicy taste but blended to fit local ingredients.

19. The vehicles in Myanmar are out-of-date, aren’t they? What would be used in my tour?

We must admit so. Myanmar government does not allow to import brand new vehicles while their domestic automobile industry is not much until this post updated. We suggest you should not expect something sparkling or shining but our vehicles are all high hygiene, good quality, strong A/C, comfortable seat and safe in performance. (more Myanmar transportation).

20. Can I used credit/debit cards when I am in Myanmar?


Yes, we are confident to confirm “you can use credit cards” in main cities and most hotels from 3 stars up. The fee for processing is running from 3 – 5%.

21. What is currency here? Should I use local currency or US$?


The local currency is Kyat (pronounce: chat). The exchange rate is around 1USD = 1360Kyat. Kyat will be accepted in all transactions regardless of the note conditions.
You can use USD for most of the transaction with locals there. But please note your USD notes must be new, clean, unmarked, unfolded and notes with series from 2003 up to now is preferred.
ATM available in most main cities of Myanmar. The currencies available for withdrawal are USD, AUD, SGD and Bath Thai.

22. How about the communication in Myanmar?


The mobile communication in Myanmar now is very popular and cheap. The network is based on GSM technology – SIM based devices. The 3G is good enough for web surfing and facebook. The SIM card can be obtained easily at malls on streets as cheap as 3-4$ each. The favorite provider is Ooredoo.
Wifi hotspot is available at most of the hotels with free of charge. However, the signal strength may not be as strong as your expectation. Most of the fine restaurants offer free wifi too.

23. What if I am in a medical emergency?


Under any case of emergency, you can call immediately to our hotline in Myanmar +959 420 13 64 70/ +959 254 13 2825 (Mr. Si Thu) or 84-90-224-3637 for more support.

Disclaimer: The information is true at this time of posting updated - Aug 2018 . Even though we check up our surrounding conditions quite often but the country changes so quickly that some details in this post can be wrong just next few months. HIT Myanmar welcomes all re-correction notes or/and encourages you to contact to our team for the latest update.

Government Bans Tourists from Climbing on Pagodas in Bagan

almost the pagodas in Bagan will be prohibited to ascend on top since March 01 2016.

myanmar_government_bans_tourists_from_climbing_on_pagodas_in_bagan

Watching the sunset from the top of a pagoda is one of Bagan’s delightful get to experiences, also rated as a “must-do” when taking a adventure to myanmar.

Nonetheless, on ultimate February 22, 2016, Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture announced its decision to ban visitors from climbing on antique pagodas in this world-renowned archaeological zone, after publication of a video showing an indecent performance on top of one structure in Bagan.

The cause starts from a fact happening in the second week of this February, as a medical company had conducted a cultural singing- and-dancing show on Pyathagyi Pagoda, as the Mimistry said, had a “negative impact” on the nation’s culture.

The number of locals and foreign tourists to Bagan has grown quickly recently, doubled from 120,000 to 250,000 between 2011 and 2015. This means hundreds of visitors ascend the temples everyday, placing strain on the ancient structures. Said by the Ministry, the ban will ensure the pagodas are “maintained for the long term”.

The ban will be effective from March 01, 2016.

However, the decision then received scathing criticisms from tourism business operators and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. They assume that this forbiddance will damage the industry and the image of Bagan because the major reason travelers reach here is to admire view from the pagodas. They want the decision to be reconsidered.

prior this objection, yesterday, the Ministry of Culture clarified 5 pagodas exempt from the climbing ban.

following to the Ministry, the ban will not be applied on the 5 pagodas, namely Shwesandaw – the most favorite spot for sunset sight, Pyathard Gyi, South Gunni, North Gunni and Thitsaw Wati.


Note: Based on the decision of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture, sunset viewing on Shwesandaw Pagoda in the adventure programs of seawanader.asia is tranquil carried out as usual. However, travelers need to pay attention not to climb on the other pagodas in Bagan without the 5 pagodas as we showed above.

Stay updates with SEA WANDER if there are new announcements coming out.

Thứ Bảy, 11 tháng 8, 2018

Visiting Bagan - Beyond Pagodas and Stupas


Bagan owns over 2,200 pagodas and stupas. Apart from learning religious and ancient architecture, there are many active activities for travelers to explore other sides of burma country such as culture, citizen and sight.

1. Ballooning ride

This is the best, funniest way to catch the panorama of Bagan. Unparalleled aerial sight from hot air balloons will actually bring fantastic moments to travelers as contemplating this majestic construction ensemble. Balloon journeys usually departs on early morning, the unique time in a day to observe rich sunrise, when primary sunbeams shine down roof of old stupas. Surely this way will captivate photographers. With a location on a balloon, you be able to possibly capture great shots and create fantastic photos.
Myanmar Balloon ride
Important note: Balloon ride is not avalable from April to Sep due to weather conditions. The most beautiful time in day for ballooning is early morning (from 5AM)

2. Biking on semi-dessert, sandy paths or up to mountains

A new way to admire quaint pagodas and stupas, on two wheels, as breezes drift over you. By pedaling, you could stop at anywhere you want to talk to locals you meet, who be able to be in way to pasture, travel market or farm. Your cycling trip can be interrupted by herds of cows or goats ambling on roads.
For travelers who indulge in adventure get to, you may carry a mountain biking trip, heading to Mount Popa and its spectacular hilltop temple, the best holy destination for meditation in burma. This exotic mountain used to be a volcano, which is 1518m high and located 50 km from southeast of Bagan. On the cycling journey to Mount Popa, you will see jungles, green fields and golden temples spires. Pedaling around the mount, you can discover rustic villages and palm gardens.
Bagan biking tours

3. Wonderful Cooking class

If you such as to understand partly Burmese cuisine (soup, salad, curry), let attend a cooking class. The teachers will show you different types of herbs and vegetables which are typical food materials in Burmese cooking. You be able to adventure market with the teachers to select and purchase ingredients as well as spices. On the class, the chef will performance you the traditional preparation and cooking methods. Habits of eating and traditions of the Burmese are explained as well.
Toddy juice, which is gotten from the buds in early morning, is a unique kind of food in Burmese cuisine. The favorite white-liquor, palm sugar and a local afternoon Sky Beer are made from this juice. A cooking class will carry you to encounter toddy palm climbers, observe their simple life and daily routine in palm gardens.
Cooking class in Bagan

4. String Traditional Puppet show

Puppetry is called “yoke thé” in Burmese. “Yoke thé” performances originated from the royal art and were gradually adapted for the wider populace. Bagan is an old capital so it is also the land of puppetry. Burmese marionettes are greatly intricate and delicate as they have 18 or 19 wires for male and female characters in turn. Every puppet is controlled by only one puppeteer.
You could find puppet show in Bagan at restaurants or hotels.
String puppet show in Bagan

5. Touring by ox-cart or horse-cart

Ox-cart and horse-cart are the traditional modes of transport in Bagan. You should try traveling as a real Burmese by a horse-cart or ox-cart ride. It is really fun which surely take you a new experience. A cart ride can lead you to off-beaten-track temples and plain villages for authentic discovery.
bagan horse cart ride

Suggested tours:
Photos in this post credit to SEA WANDER Team


Differences of Buddhist Architecture Among Indochina Countries

Five out six of Indochina countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and burma principally practice Buddhism, but it will be a large fault if you believe Buddhist architecture in these nations are the identical, and just or Vietnam is enough. The reason results from differences of Buddhism sects, cultural influences and folk beliefs. In fact, Buddhist team traveling to burma ples of the countries are charming distinct.

AN OVERVIEW OF BUDDHIST ARCHITECTURAL FORMS:

  • Stupa: A bell-shaped structure containing Buddhist relics, very widespread in burma. It’s called “zedi” in Burmese, “that” in Lao, “chedi” in Thai and “mộ tháp” in Vietnamese. A stupa of Vietnam, a small rectangular structure, is unlike stupas of the other countries.
  • Monastery temple: Common in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, known as “wat”.
  • Pagoda: The main form of Buddhist architecture in Vietnam, completely different to “pagoda” of China.
  • Buddhist monastery: may be found a lot in myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, known as “kyaung” in Burmese and "vihear" in Khmer.

IN DETAILS THAT VARY AMONG INDOCHINA COUNTRIES

1. In burma, visit know about "paya" and "kyaung"


many Myanmar’s Buddhist constructions are gold-covered, very grandiose and intricately decorated. Gleaning gold shines brightly over thousands of stupas, temples and shrines throughout the country, from the smallest village shrine placed in a bough of an ancient tree to enormous stupas and temples of grand cities.

Paya - that literally means "pagoda" but not truly "pagoda" as ones you are familiar

The most common equivalent of “pagoda” used in the country is “paya”. However, “paya” is unlike the ordinary meaning of English term “pagoda”. It’s translated as a “holy one”, where people, deities and places connected with religion. “Paya” is a generic term referring all stupa, temple and shrine.
There are two kinds of “paya”: the solid, bell-shaped “zedi” and the hollow rectangular “pahto”. "Payas" was constructed as a symbolic Mount Meru.
  • Zedi (stupa): A mightily spiritual structure constructed to conserve “relics”: objects taken from the Buddha (pieces of bone, teeth and hair), or holy materials. Early “zedi” during Pyu period is hemispherical or bulbous (e.g. Kaunghmudaw pyay in Sagaing). The up to date style is much more graceful – a curvaceously lower bell merging into a soaring spire.


*** Sea Wander offer Shwedagon, Sule (Yangon), Shwezigon (Bagan)and Uppatasanti (Naypidaw) as the typycal of up to date "zedi".
zedi-myanmar-buddhist-architecture
Shwezigon "zedi" in Bagan
  • Pahto” (Buddhist temple): Its interior was adorned by a series of impressive frescoes. A Mon-styled “pahto” is a broad cube with small windows and inner corridors, known as “gu” or “ku”.


*** Sea Wander strongly recommends a get to to Bagan where you be able to realize hundreds of "pahtos": Dhammayangyi, Gawdawpalin, Htilominlo, Sulamani, Ananda, etc.
Gawdawpalin buddhist architecture
Gawdawpalin "pahto" in Bagan

Traditionally, only “payas” were built of permanent materials (brick, stone). Inside “payas”, tremendous images and multiple shrines were set for cult.

Kyaung - living place of monks and nuns

It is the site where monks and nuns live, study and practice mediation. Most of the “kyaungs” in the country were made of wood, even the royal ones in Mandalay. The most significant part of a “kyaung” is the “thein”, a consecrated hall where monastic ordinations occur.

*** Sea Wander suggests some must-see "kyaungs": Shwe Yaunghwe in Nyangshwe, close to Inle lake; Shwenandaw (or Golden Palace monastery) and Bagaya in Mandalay.

2. In Vietnam - The architecture has elements of Taoism, Confucianism, Vietnamese folk belief and matriarchy


The term “pagoda” (chùa) is used to refer Buddhist temples in Vietnam. Nevertheless, Vietnamese pagoda, which is regarded as a place to worship the Buddha, is completely unlike Chinese pagoda, which is an eight-sided tower built to house the ashes of the deceased.
Vietnam buddhist architecture
But Thap pagoda, Vietnam


Vietnamese pagodas were made of wood, generally brown and simple-designed with small or medium scale. In front of a "chùa", usually there is a white standing statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat (Goddess of Mercy). Inside the main sanctuary are representations of three Buddhas: A Di Da (Amitahba), the Buddha of the past; Thich Ca Mau Ni (Siddhartha Gautama), the historical Buddha; and Di Lac (Maitreya), the Buddha of the future. Nearby, eight statues of eight Kim Cuong (Genies of the Cardinal Directions), images of La Han (arhats) and various Bo Tat (Bodhisattvas) were set. Female Buddha images are quite well known owning to the impact of matriarchy.

In some “chùa”, an altar is put aside for Taoist divinities such as Jade of Emperor and Queen of Heaven. Every pagoda has an altar for funerary tablets commemorating deceased Buddhist monks (often buried in stupas close to the pagoda) and lay citizen.
Vietnamese pagoda buddhist architecture
Stupas (mo thap) in Phat Tich pagoda, Bac Ninh, Vietnam, where have ashes of deceased monks


A very impressive variation of Goddess of Mercy showing her with multiple arms, sometimes multiple eyes and ears, permitting her to touch, find and hear all, be able to be found at some pagodas in North Vietnam.

*** You may want to know about some top typical Vietnamese pagodas, e.g. But Thap, Phat Tich (Bac Ninh); Yen Tu (Quang Ninh); Tran Quoc,Tay Phuong (Hanoi) and Thien Mu (Hue).

3. In Cambodia - Buddhist temples built of stone, under influences of Hinduism and the sun cult


Most of ancient Khmer Buddhist temples (“wats”) were built of perishable materials (stone, brick…), extremely giant and sophisticatedly carved. During the period of Angkor, only religious constructions were built of stone, often mixed with laterite, tiles and timbers in a unique proportion. The “central sanctuary” based in the core is the most important part of a Khmer “wat”, which is confined by concentric layers of walls, said to be the residence of the main deity. A gallery, another attraction, is a passageway running along the enclosed walls adorned with celestial dancing Apsaras, and the axis of the temple. This structure possess blind doors and windows that helped in keeping evenness in entrance ways. Colonettes were widely used as an embellishment along doorways. Many remarkable "wats" has entrance buildings (gopura), which feature a corbel arch and gigantic stone faces of Avalokiteshvara.
Cambodia buddhist architecture
Blind windows with colonettes in Angkor Wat temple
Angkor buddhist architecture
An entrance building (gopura) in the Complex of Angkor


The decorative motifs of Khmer temples were under the affect of Hinduism, with patterns depicting Hindu deities (comprising Apsaras, Devatas, Dvarapalas, Naga, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, etc), and using of Hindu origin structure such as quincunx (linga). Some of the temples were built as pyramids, symbolic of the cosmic Mount Meru in Hindu mythology. The sun cult impacted on Khmer Buddhist architecture too. Most of the “wats” were erected in eastern orientation to glorify the rising sun. Some archaeologists believed that position of most Angkor monuments corresponded to marking out the solar path, according to the solstitial alignments.

*** Sea Wander suggests: when taking the excellent Khmer "wats" in your Cambodia visit account, starting with Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Takeo, Preah Khan, Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean (Valley of 1000 Lingas) in Siem Reap; and Koh Ker in Preah Viihear.

4. In Laos - Unpretentious "wats" but charmingly and meticulously adorned.


Lao Buddhist architecture shares a similarity to Siamese (Thai) architecture, and is influenced by Khmer architecture as well, but it’s rare by its modest appearance. Constructed of relatively light materials, unpretentious Lao “wats” appear with gentle charm and elegance rather than an imposing, grandiose looking such as Khmer “wats”. A Lao wat is characterized by steep-tiled roofs, frescoes, mosaic, carved and gilded decorations depicting the natural world, mythical creatures, and the events of Buddha's life. Its compound comprises clusters of buildings, in which, the Sim (ordination hall) is the most significant, largest and most elaborately ornamented building, where treasure was sealed in its foundation, and monks are ordained. Generally longer than wide, it was set on a multi-level platform and made of brick covered with stucco. Inside it, at the far end, a large Buddha image is positioned on a dais. Without it, other main buildings involve a meeting site (Sala), meditation and living quarters (Kouti), a manuscript library (Ho Tai), bell tower (Ho Rakhang), drum tower (Ho Kong), and stupa (That). Lao-styled stupas has curvilinear design and four-cornered shape. It’s tall, thin and modelled on an opened lotus bud.

Phat That Luang in Vientiane is a Lao "that" (stupa)


Complicatedly and charmingly decorative elements found over Lao wats are not only imbued with religious and spiritual meanings, but also added aesthetic appeal. The high-peaked roofs are layered in strange numbers to correspond with Buddhist doctrines. The edge of roofs has a repeated flame motif that are said to catch evil spirits accessing the building. Stenciled designs on a red or black background can be found on surfaces of most buildings. Also under the affect of Hinduism, Lao "wats” possess elements of Naga and Mount Meru on roofs and at entrances; while metallic adornments called "Dok So Fa" (pointing to the sky) on rooftop are manifestations of the universe belief. These structures are also renowned for Buddha images performing unique Lao-styled mudras (gestures), like calling for rain, lying down and welcoming death after attaining Nirvana.
luang prabang buddhist architecture
A Lao wat in Luang Prang

*** Sea Wander recommends "wats" in Laos to get insight: Pha That Luang, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Si Muang, Wat Ong Teu, Wat Mixai (Vientiane); Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mahathat (Luang Prabang)

5. In Thailand - The architecture inflenced by diverse cultures


The most noticeable traits in Thai Buddhist temples ("wats") are the swooping multi-tiered roof-lines, distinct decorations, marvelous interior murals, vivid colors, lovingly crafted and gilded Buddha images.

The Thai “wat” is a group of buildings that each serves a own purpose and is set within a walled enclosure. In addition to being a site where the lessons of Buddha were educated, the Thai wat was traditionally a school, hospital, community center and even an entertainment venue. Functions of various buildings within a complex may be recognized through sets of designs.

This structure consists of two parts: the Phutthawat and the Sangkhawat. The Phutthawatis dedicated to the Buddha, generally including several buildings such as "chedi" (stupa in the form of a bell-shaped tower), prang (Thai version of Khmer temple towers), wihan (a shrine hall containing principal Buddha images), etc. The Sangkhawat covers living quarters of monks.

The style of Thai stupas is very various depending on which culture it was influenced: famed ‘corn cob’- shaped stupas developed from Khmer“wats”; stupas with multiple facets and tiers orginates in Lan-na (Laos); square, angular stupas that resemble elongated pyramids is Mon in style (Myanmar); and traditional “chedis” may be viewed in Bangkok.
thailand buddhist architecture
A corn cob - shaped stupa developed from Khmer architecture in Lopburi


*** Let's discover Thai Buddhist architecture via Wat Arun, Wat Traimit, Wat Benchamabophit (Bangkok); Sokhothai historical park; Ayutthaya historical park; Lopburi; and Wat Chedi Luang (Chiang Mai).

Your "pocket" dictionary of Religions & Buddhist Architecture while traveling to burma, Vietnam and Indochina countries


VOCABULARYMEANINGS
Stupa (zedi, that, chedi)A dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine.
MonasteryA building in which monks live and worship.
Arhat(in Buddhism and Jainism) Someone who has attained the goal of the religious life.
ColonetteA small, relatively thin column, often used for decoration or to support an arcade.
Corbel arch An arch-like construction method that uses the architectural technique of corbeling to span a space or void in a structure, like an entranceway in a wall or as the span of a bridge.
Blind door/windowAn imitation of a door or window, without an opening for passage or light.
NagaA member of a semidivine race, part human and part cobra in form with multiple head, associated with water and sometimes with mystical initiation.
Mount MeruA spiritual mountain with five peaks in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and sacred universes.
Nirvana(in Buddhism) A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism
Avalokiteśvara(Lord who looks down) A Bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.
Bodhisattvas(in Mahayana Buddhism) A person who is able to reach Nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings.


More readings and suggested tours related to this topics:
  • Practicing Buddhsim in Vietnam and myanmar
  • A Guide for Meditation tours in burma
  • From Bodh Gaya (India) to Yangon (Myanmar) in 8 days to get to from the spiritual homeland of Buddhism in India to burma


Practice of Buddhism in Indochina countries

Buddhist practice in Indochina countries has both similar and different points, coming along with special values and positive influences on culture and spiritual life.
firstly, let know two major branches of Buddhism, which are different expressions of the same teachings of Buddha.

THERAVADA & MAHAYANA

Theravada (Teachings of the Elders, Lesser Wheel School, Southern Buddhism)


As the earliest, oldest teachings of Buddha founded in India and found in Pali literature, Theravada school orients devotees to become an "arhat" (who attained Nirvana) by merit making and obeying Five Percepts of the Buddha.

Mahayana (Greater Wheel School, Northern Buddhism)


This school encourages citizen to perfect themself based on the six necessary virtues: generosity, morality, patience, vigor, concentration and wisdom, but with aim to protect others.

>> Theravada notice Mahayana as a misinterpretation of the Buddha’s original teachings, while Theravada is seen more austere, ascetic and harder to practice.

BUDDHIST PRACTICE IN EACH COUNTRY


Theravada is practiced mainly in myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand while Vietnam is the only country in Indochina next Mahayana.

myanmar - Natives are knowledgeable about their religion.


As the deepest Buddhist-practicing country, myanmar leads the world in terms of the proportion of monks in its population and the proportion of income spent on religion. That’s why Buddhist constructions are widespread in myanmar with a huge quantity, high density and big scale, making the country be called “the land of a million stupas”. A stay in Bagan will prove this quote.

Theravada Buddhism is practiced by 89% of the Burmese. First received by the Mon, Theravada has spread and dominated all the country. It has been practiced in conjunction with indigenous Nat (spirit) worship. Burmese Buddhism is given a featured status. Natives are very proud of their beliefs and keen to discuss them.

Burmese Buddhists
The devotees adhere to Five Precepts of Buddha, which require abstinence from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxicating substances. They attempt for a better future life by merit-making activities such as offering food for monks and donating to Buddhist monuments, and performing regular worship at Buddhist temples. Children will be sent to monastery to receive a Buddhist education.

Every Burmese household contains an altar or shrine to Buddha, with at least one dedicated image of Gautama Buddha. Taking off footwear and shocks are compulsory when entering a Buddhist temple to performance homage. Let remember this fact when you visit to burma.

Monk ordination
Every Buddhist male is expected to temporarily become a monk and live in a monastery twice in his life: once as novice monk between the ages of 10 and 20, and again as a fully ordained monk after the age of 20. All men and boys under 20 are ordained as monks in the novitiation ceremony (Shinbyu), a very important chance to Burmese families.

Monks dress maroon robes while nuns are identified through pink robes. All things possessed by monks must be offered by lay community. In the morning, monks and nuns will walk in row to receive offerings of food.

Relation to traditional festivals
There are tremendous important Burmese festivals related to Buddhism, such as Full Moon Day of Tabaung (the merit-making day for Buddhists), Thingyan (Water New Year Festival, the time to celebrate Shinbyu), Full Moon Day of Kason (the day watering Maha Bodhi tree), Full Moon Day of Waso (start of Buddhist Lent), Thadingyut Festival (end of Buddhist Lent), etc.
Full moon day of Kason, watering the Maha-Bodhi tree - Myanmar festival
Full moon day of Kason


VIETNAM - The sole country in Indochina practices Mahayana school.


Mahayana Buddhism has played a dominant role in religious life of the Vietnamese, with the most popular sect in the country is Zen (Thien), and the second largest one is Dao Trang, primarily practiced in the South. Vietnamese Buddhism is originally blended with elements of Taoism, Confucianism and Vietnamese folk beliefs, and influenced by matriarchy with existence of female Buddhas like Quan The Am Bo Tat, Quan Am Thi Kinh, Man Nuong Phat Mau, etc. In pagodas (chua), Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are worshiped beside countless Taoist divinities and spirits, local deities, helpers, and historical figures who dedicated to the country.

Religious life of devotees
Buddhism has a splendid impact on the thinking and behavior of Vietnamese citizen. They suppose that things a person reaps today is what he or she has sown in the past. They think in rebirth and that their present life is a reflection of actions in their before life.

The practice of Buddhism is like throughout the country, with gaining merit is the most common and fundamental practice. Buddhist pagodas possess been regarded by many Vietnamese as a physical and spiritual refuge from an uncertain world. Though the majority of the population has a vague notion of academic Buddhist doctrines, they often invite monks to take part in their life-cycle ceremonies such as funerals.
practice-of-buddhism-in-vietnam
The Vietnamese adventure pagoda in the early New Year


Monks' functions
Vietnamese Buddhist monks commonly chant sutras, recite the life of Buddhas (particularly Amitābha), do repentance, pray for rebirth of the deceased in the Pure Land, predict fortunes, tips where a house should be constructed, perform acupuncture, etc. Most sutras are in Classical Chinese and are merely recited with Sino-Xenic pronunciations, making them incomprehensible to most practitioners. Chanting are practiced regularly at dawn, noon, and dusk, comprising Nianfo (a way of repenting and purifying bad karma), Dharani recitation and Kinh Hanh (walking meditation).

CAMBODIA – Most Buddhists think in ghosts and spirits.


The history of Buddhism in Cambodia has lasted for nearly 2000 years, across a number of successive kingdoms and empires. Approximately 95% of Cambodia's population follows Theravada school, which has existed side-by-side and intermingled with pre-Buddhist animism and Hinduism. The religion penetrated the country through two streams: the earliest one entered Funan kingdom via Hindu merchants and was influenced by Hinduism; the latter one were various Buddhist traditions that Mon people (Myanmar) brought to Angkor Empire.

Buddhism and belief in spirits
Most Cambodians adventure Buddhist temples for the major Buddhist holidays. Few Cambodians abstain from all of the Five Precepts of Buddha. However, they calm trust reincarnation and the idea that which they receive today is derived from past actions, identical to the Vietnamese.

The Cambodian identify themselves as Buddhists, but their version of Buddhism consists of forms of ancestor worship, shamanism, and animism. They, whether professing to follow Buddhism or not, believe in a luxurious supernatural world. When being sick or in crisis, they see supernatural help from various spirits assumed to occupy in objects found in houses, Buddhist temples, along roads, and in forests. In almost all Cambodian dwellings, and even Buddhist temples, there are spirit houses and small shrines to appease bad spirits and keep them away their home.
practice-of-buddhism-in-cambodia
Spirit houses in a Cambodian temple

Monks’ functions
Buddhist monks are significant part of Cambodian life. They take part in all formal village festivals, ceremonies (e.g. Naming infants), marriages and funerals. They use astrology to see auspicious dates for important events. They are often healers and practitioners of up to date psychiatrist. For centuries monks were the only literate citizen inhabiting in countryside. They acted as teachers to temple servants and monks.

Monk ordination
It is common for Cambodian men to become monks for a short period of their life - usually a few weeks or a few months - to bring merit to their parents and to become closer to their Buddhist faith. This is usually done earlier in life, starting at age 13. Today less than 5 percent of men become monks. Older women, particularly widows, often opt to reside at the pagodas as helpers in order to not be a burden to their families.

Relation to traditional festivals
such as myanmar, most significant festivals of Cambodia are connected to Buddhism, for instance, Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year festival), Pchum Ben (the memorial day for deceased ancestors), Meak Bochea (commemorates the last sermon of the Buddha), Vissakh Bochea (anniversary of the birth, death, and enlightenment of the Buddha), etc.

LAOS – Buddhism has been a strong force in the culture.


Buddhism in Laos is a unique version of Theravada custom, as it’s based on Laotian culture, and closely tied to animism and beliefs in ancestral spirits, especially in rural areas After Theravada school was officially adopted in the 14th century during the reign of Fa Ngum, Buddhist temples (wats) were progressively built on foundations of former animist shrines, and Buddhism started to dominate the spiritual belief in Laos.

The influence on Lao culture
Buddhism has been a strong force in Lao culture and remains a considerable impact in the local daily life today. Each Lao village owns a private “wat”, where villagers hold festivities and rituals. Buddhist images are found everywhere in shops, homes and offices.

Buddhism defines the Laotian character: frank, friendly, gracious and generous. A typical day start early with offerings for monks and a trip to the market to buy food. Wats are crowded in mornings and evenings with people chanting Buddhist prayers. In Laos, Buddhism brings peace and joy to the people as well as several festivals, which are breaks in an agricultural working year.

Lao Buddhists are very devout. They follow Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha: suffering exists; suffering has a cause, which is the thirst or craving for existence; this craving be able to be stopped; and there is an Eightfold Path by which a permanent state of peace could be attained. Individuals are not expected to reach Nirvana in lifetime. Nevertheless, through their moral actions, they be able to progress karma for their following incarnation by obeying Five Precepts of Buddha and gaining merit via support to Buddhist community, usually donating food to monks and nuns.
practice-of-buddhism-in-laos
The Lao gain merit by donating food for monks so as to improve karma for their following incarnation.

Monk ordination
Most Lao men join a monastery or temple for at least a short period of time before to marriage. Numerous of them become monks for the sleep of their lives. Induction as a monk brings splendid merit to one’s family, develop karma of deceased relatives, and also a way to receive Buddhist education.

The temples of Laos were once seen as "universities" for monks. Lao monks are highly esteemed and revered in Lao communities. Based on Lao Buddhism, Lao women are taught that they can only attain Nirvana after they contain been reborn as men.

THAILAND - Buddha's teachings own been supported for a millennium


93.6% of the population in Thailand follows Theravada school. Over various eras, Thai Buddhism contain had influences of its neighboring Buddhist countries: Mon (Myanmar), Khmer (Cambodia), India, Sri Lanka and China. There are three main forces affecting the development of Buddhism in Thailand: Theravada school imported from Sri Lanka, Hindu belief received from Cambodia, and the folk religion of the country.

Buddhist life
Thais contain followed and supported the Buddha's teachings for more than a thousand years. Every Thai community, no matter how small or how poor, pools its resources to build an ornate temple to ensure everyone has a destination to practice. Tremendous men experience a short period as a monk, commonly in their childhood. The locals also donate food for monks every day.

Much of Thai life takes place around temples or monasteries, where they come for worship, praying, sermons, meditation, ceremonies, receiving advises for family matters, schooling children, customary medicine, and finding peace in mind. Brightly colored garlands and bits of scripture, which are Buddhist offerings, are often hung in front of boats, buses and tuk tuk so as to carry fantastic luck and ensure safety on each trip. Like Cambodians, Thais also think in ghosts and spirits, and build spirit houses in front of their dwellings, even shopping malls, office buildings, etc.
practice-of-buddhism-in-thailand
Garlands, also used as Buddhsit offerings, are hung in front of boats so as to carry fantastic luck and ensure safety.


Thais believe the Buddha's teachings to be priceless, so no money is asked or expected in return for meditation instruction. In tremendous mediation centers, such things as accommodation and food are free.

Thứ Ba, 7 tháng 8, 2018

Best Picked 2018 and Top Suggested in 2019 by SEA WANDER

Check out SEA WANDER's top picked tours list in 2018 and see our expert overture for myanmar adventure in 2019

Saying goodbye to the year of 2018 – according to Vietnamese calendar where head quarter office of SEA WANDER located and prepare for new year festival according to Burmese calendar in April 2015, let SEA WANDER look back together to our top favorite tours in 2014 and our expert is going to suggest new picking for an splendid myanmar in 2015.

Top choices in 2018 by our customers:

  • myanmar photography tours and more specified option - Photography with Balloon ride in Inle Lake and Bagan 07 days - Photographers felt very much in love with myanmar. And we created the adventure to provide best chances to capture the most salient pictures in their journeys.

  • Yangon Countryside tour 03 days – the very short adventure for customers contain limited time in their plan. The adventure is also cheap enough to encounter nearly all budgets because it has no involve in domestic flight while giving you top iconic sites of burma but also different aspects of myanmar with friendly countryside.

  • Tastes of burma in 05 days – that is the shortest overland adventure in myanmar that allows you to take all Yangon – former capital, Bagan – the largest archeological place and Mandalay – the ancient capital in the North. That is best picking for short-timer travelers.

  • myanmar Off Beaten adventure 14 days – that requires you should inclue a relatively fantastic physical health as we are going to bring you to reveal most remote parts of this country. However, the experience and sceneries rewarded back are the ones you never forget.

  • Inle Trekking to Kalaw 07 days – the most famous trekking trails in myanmar that offers you salient views of lake, mountains, cloud and featured, colorful images of ethnic people you encounters on the way.

  • myanmar ultimate Luxury tours 10 days – taking this tour you will shortly forget myanmar as a newly-opening, developing country but the one may proposal you the top rich services while keeping their fantastic sides of friendliness and not yet touristy.

Top suggested tours in 2019 by SEA WANDER

  • Yangon Off shore excursions 01 day – multiple options especially for grand cruise’s passengers docking in Yangon port in 01 – 02 days. As an experienced off-shore services operator in Vietnam, we take this advantage to burma to help our customers enjoy the best sides of this splendid country within few days.

  • Trekking from Kalaw to Loikaw 06 days – Taking from our expert inspection in Dec 2014, we introduce you the newest trekking destination - Loikaw. Loikaw silent remain no touristy but the sight and cool weather could convince any travelers. We make this tours with responsible mind of bringing customers in small sized group to make minimum effects to locals.

  • Caving tour in Hpa-An and Countryside in Mawlamyine 06 days – HpaAn is the sole place in South burma where you may do caving adventure. This journey is our intention of combining natural caving beauty with local culture and graceful countryside of burma.

  • Luxury Anawrahta Cruise for splendid Irrawaddy 08 days – This is the newest river cruise in myanmar setting its original sail September 2015. SEA WANDER is proud to be one of the very first agent to proposal this cruise to cruise fans.

  • burma Foody journey 09 days - The special journey for foody lovers to reveal the unique aspect of burma culture. SEA WANDERcreates this adventure to bring you relax from road foods, traditional cuisines to very elegant meals in top restaurants.

  • The bests of burma 12 days – Classic but never get enough, the tour as its name cover the best highlights of myanmar and is wrapped in very suitable duration for most home-away vacation. Having its shot in 2014, SEA WANDER quiet recommends it for all types of travelers coming to burma in 2015.

That is our sum-up list in 2018 and suggested list in 2019. They will be very best guide for you starting a tours planning to burma. Providing you possess different ideas with us, why not drop us a message or tell us your idea by customize your own adventure here!
Happy New Year 2019 with best wishes from SEA WANDER Team!