Some women in Myanmar use a paste called thanaka. // © 2015 iStock
Feature image (above): Myanmar has unique rules when it comes to driving. // © 2015 iStock
The people of Myanmar are warm and genuine, and meeting them is a highlight of any trip to the country. But travelers should be aware of a few cultural differences.
First, many women cover their faces in a yellowish-white paste, which they rub on their cheeks and foreheads. This is thanaka, a paste made from ground bark. It has been used for more than 2,000 years as a form of protection from sunburn, as well as to help remove acne and promote smooth skin.
Many people in Myanmar also have an addiction to chewing betel nut, which leaves their teeth stained dark red. Seeing someone who has been chewing betel nut smile can be off-putting, but this coloring is not related to any sort of disease or malnutrition.
With respect to driving, Myanmar has its own unique rules. Almost every vehicle is right-hand-drive, but people also drive on the right-hand side of the road. In Myanmar, formerly a British colony until 1948, everyone drove on the left until 1970, when the ruler of the country ordered that the driving lane be switched to the right.