The Basics

Welcome to Burma Calling, our new Burma Blog.

We’ll bring you tales of our travels around the country, a peek behind the scenes of Kalinko, and try and show you what it looks and feels like to live here.

Let’s start with the basics. 

Where actually is Burma?

It’s ok – lots of people ask. It’s that giant piece of land between India, China and Thailand.

Map of Myanmar

Why is it now called Myanmar?

The Military Government changed it in 1989, to rid it of any associations with its colonial past. So George Orwell lived in Burma, but we live in Myanmar.  

The Pegu Club, Yangon 

But they speak Burmese, not M...yanmarese??


Burmese Text

What’s it like to live there?

It’s a bit like eating chocolates from a mixed box, but without the menu. 90% of the time you get salted caramel ganache joy: wonderful people, idyllic countryside, vibrant, colourful cities, a soft melodic language, and the excitement of it progressing before your eyes. But then you pop in a cherry liqueur: tummy bug roulette, interminable traffic jams and 40 degree heat, and on a deeper level, grinding poverty which will take decades to fix.

Shan Rice Farmer

What’s the best bit?

Getting lost in far-flung villages at the end of roads to nowhere.  Especially in this magic three month period between December and February when it’s cool and breezy, and there’s nowhere you’d rather be than free-wheeling down hair-pin bends in dappled sunlight.

Dawei Village

What’s the worst bit?

Rats the size of cats. Loads of them.

Yangon Street Scene

What’s the weirdest bit?

It’s a completely cash society. You pay for everything in cash. It’s totally normal to be asked to pay the rent on your flat a year upfront…. in cash. And the biggest denomination is a £5 note. Back up the truck….

Piles of Myanmar Kyat

Oh, and betel nut. People chew it like we chew gum, except that one gives you clean teeth and minty-fresh breath, and the other makes you look like Dracula.

Betel Nut

Also one more thing – people have no surnames, just three first names. And lots of names aren't gender specific. Imagine being called Sam Henry Mary, son of James Anne John and Helen Laura Fred. Confusiiiiing!!

Mizo Man 

And why should I visit?

Because it’s the most exciting country on earth to be in right now, and in 10 years time it will look very different.  Also the beaches are insane. 

Nuns on Ngapali Beach

Finally, what are you there for?

To support small communities of artisans, take their work to international markets, and give them enough business to develop long-term sustainable livelihoods. Read all about it here.

Chin Weaver 

Ok great, I’m coming – can you help me plan my trip?

Of course! Send us an email:

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