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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Thanaka

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These photos were taken in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma). This woman is selling Thanaka, a sort of cosmetic bark paste that’s pretty common in Myanmar. The paste is applied to the face, and sometimes the arms, it sort of acts as a sun block, and its used to keep people cool. We bought some from this woman; she was really sweet, and she was REALLY excited that we were interested in this. It’s sold mostly to locals, and you don’t really see tourists with it, but we were curious. She showed us how the paste was made, let us smell it, and applied it to both mine and my sister’s faces. She didn’t speak any english, but it was a really interesting interaction all the same, and even with the language barrier it was easy to tell that both of the parties involved were equally interested. Myanmar is a fantastic place, and probably one of the more interesting countries i’ve visited, mostly because it’s an awesome place, but also because it’s really just starting to become a tourist destination. The people are friendly, the food is fantastic, the culture is really incredible, and the art and archaeological sites are just amazing. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend a visit to Myanmar! I’ve only been to two cities there, but I would highly recommend both Bagan and Yangon.

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This photo was taken in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma) just outside one of the many incredible pagodas that you can visit. This was really just a luck shot, I don’t really know why this baby was in a basket, but I thought it was a pretty cool picture none the less. This woman, and her children, were with a group of people who seemed like they were just passing through the area where the Pagoda was located, they had stopped to look at a group of tourists. The interest was clearly mutual, the small group of Burmese people was looking at the tourists, and the tourists (a group from the U.S.) were looking right back, it was sort of an interesting exchange to witness. If you look closely you can see a sort of yellow-white paste is covering the child’s face. The paste is called Tha Na Ka, it’s made from a sort of ground root and water mixture, it’s applied to the face to help keep you cool. While we were there my sister and I tried it ( a very sweet older lady outside a temple applied it for us, she was also very insistent that we smell it, though it really didn’t have much of a strong scent) it was an interesting experience, but neither of us found it to be particularly cooling after it dried. Still, i’d recommend trying it if you have a chance (and if you don’t have any serious plant allergies) it’s an interesting experience, and a lot of local people seemed really pleased by the fact that tourists were trying it out. Behind the woman you can see a horse cart, these are really common in Bagan and you can hire them to take you to pagodas if you prefer the more open air travel to taxis.

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Pagodas of Bagan

This picture was taken from the top of one of the many thousands of Pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma) at sunset. People visit Bagan to go see the Pagodas, and one of the favorite tourist activities in this town is going to the top and watching the sunset. There are many temples that will provide you with an awesome view (like this) and you can probably ask about which ones have the best views at the front desk of a hotel, or you can even ask a taxi driver, they usually know the most popular tourist spots. It’s great to go see the sunset from the top, but it’s still a great view without the sunset. Remember when visiting the pagodas you need to be appropriately dressed; legs covered to the knees, no shoes or socks, and cover your shoulders too!

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This picture was taken in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma). This is a group of young buddhist monks going to collect alms. This was a lucky shot, we had woken up early and happened to see these monks passing the gates of our hotel on our way to breakfast. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, and Bagan seems to have a particularly high number of Buddhist monks. It was really cool to see this, and i’m sure if you want to make sure you see it while you’re there, you could ask the front desk at your hotel when/ where it happens. Myanmar is still not a heavily touristed country, and it is a somewhat conservative place. It’s important to know about this and try to be respectful of this when traveling there. Try to cover your legs, at least to your knees, especially when you are entering temples, it’s also important to cover your shoulders and remove both shoes AND socks when entering any of the numerous pagodas in Bagan. It’s always a good idea to have a sarong with you to cover up for these visits. When watching the monks go for Alms, be respectful! Don’t take flash pictures, don’t break their line, and don’t talk to them. Being culturally considerate is something that I always stress, keep in mind that whenever, and wherever you travel, you are a visitor,  try your  best to be respectful of the traditions and beliefs of the place that you are visiting.

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This is a compilation of photos of the beautiful Chora Church (if you’re trying to find it Lonely Planet lists this as its address: Kariye Camii Sokak Edirnekapı) in Istanbul, Turkey. The church is decorated all over with beautiful and intricate mosaics that depict the lives of Mary and Jesus. The church was a little hard for us to find, we took a taxi and we tried multiple times with different drivers, but many didn’t know where we were talking about (which is why I included the address) HOWEVER, it is an incredible little church with fantastic mosaics, and some paintings as well, both of which are fairly well preserved. I recommend a visit to this church, it is definitely one of the more hidden treasures that Istanbul has to offer.

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Hagia Sophia

This photo was taken in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The Hagia Sophia was the largest unsupported dome for 1,000 years. This landmark is truly an architectural masterpiece, beautiful inside and out. This famed sight is conveniently located just across the way from another of Istanbul’s famous landmarks; the Blue Mosque. Both of these are amazing places and ABSOLUTELY worth visiting. The square that lays between these two is home to a couple of nice lawns and benches to sit on while enjoying the view, there are also plenty of little food trollies around selling pretzels, corn, lollipops, and other snack foods.

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Wedding Party

I snapped this shot of a couple from a wedding party when we were staying in Sri Lanka. We weren’t a part of the wedding, but they looked so beautiful together I couldn’t resist. It was also really cool to see all of the wedding stuff getting set up in our hotel lobby. I’ve only been to two weddings, and both of them were when I was really little, but it was really cool to see the difference between the Jewish American wedding set up and the Sri Lankan wedding set up. (That may also be my inner cultural anthropologist talking)

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