Blog : Myanmar

The Secrets of Jade

The Secrets of Jade

Jade has been cherished over many centuries. There is something about it to hold dear. The green ornamental stone is considered a lucky charm by the Chinese people. It symbolizes purity, kindness and virtue of moral good.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul

Design Nation Market, a retail business area that’s part of the Siam Discovery Center.
Jade beads mat on show now at “Design Nation”, second floor, Siam Paragon.

A part of people’s lives from time immemorial, jade has evolved into an artistic tradition. In China it has a specific connection with folk medicine and long-established cultural expressions.

Aficionados of jade shouldn’t miss a handicraft exhibition that’s taking place now at Siam Paragon. The focal point of the show is a beautifully handcrafted jade mat made of about 27,000 green stone beads. The exhibition known as “Design Nation” is happening until November 17.

The jade mat on display is designed by Panitsara Hongthanadecho and made by a team of highly skilled craftswomen from Myawaddi, Myanmar. The green stone is believed to have the power of giving delight and arousing admiration. It’s in demand for its spiritual and healing properties relating to traditional Chinese art and culture.

The 67-year-old designer is a Thai of Chinese descent, who grows sentimentally attached to everything jade. It’s easy to perceive the meaning of the green stone when she included a jade mat similar to the one on display among funeral objects for her mother recently.

She said that the green ornamental stone was believed to have positive energy. In ancient times, emperors and members of the Chinese nobility aspired to sleep in a bed filled with green stone beads threaded together to perfectly fit the bedstead, on which the mattress was placed.

Panitsara could still recall promising her Mom a jade beads mat ten years back. She searched and found a big block of jade, bought it in an auction, and had it cut to size. She received about 27,000 stone cubes, each measuring 10 millimeters.

She had them machined continuously for two days to achieve perfectly polished round stone beads. After that, they were threaded together. And the final outcome is beautiful beyond words, thanks to a team of highly skilled craftswomen she hired from Myawaddi, Myanmar, which is located across the river from Mae Sod District in Tak. As promised, she included the jade mat among other funeral objects for her Mom after she passed.

That’s just one of many interesting items on show now at Design Nation, on the second floor of Siam Paragon. The event is rich in exhibits from several countries including the Philippines, Italy, and those created right here in Thailand.

A display booth by Artisanal Philippines. Here, Philippine-style cocoa drinks are made fresh the old fashioned way every day.
Design Nation exhibition at Siam Paragon
A soap crafted to resemble a marble by Vilacini, available at Design Nation Market

Whilst there, drop by the design market and attend workshops and seminars hosted by the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Lido Connect, Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center, and Siam Paragon.

The show goes on until November 17. For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/designnationbangkok/

 

You may also like…

FURNITURE IDEAS FOR SPA AND HEALTH RESORTS

 

“PATTANI DECODED” PATTANI DESIGN WEEK

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA ON AVERAGE SCORES POORLY IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

Founded on the Indian Subcontinent by the Buddha around 500 BC, Buddhism is a widely followed religion across Southeast Asia, especially the Mainland. Temples and the Sangha, communities of monks, nuns, novices and laity, play a critical role in preserving good practice and his teachings to the present day. Here are 9 sacred places around the Region to visit on your long journeys through life.

/// ASEAN ///

Photo: Sam Garza
Photo: Radu Micu
Photo: Anandajoti

ANGKOR WAT

Siem Reap, Cambodia

One of the largest and most resplendent religious monuments in the world, Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who ruled the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple around the turn of the century. The temple complex sits on 1.6 million square meters (about 400 acres) of land in Siem Reap, a province on the northern shore of Tonle Sap in central Cambodia. The enduring pride of Khmer architecture was constructed of sandstone adorned with a breathtaking richness of sculptures in bas-relief. It was inscribed on the List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992. The ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2012 made Angkor Wat and Borobudur (in Indonesia) sister sites as part of an effort at promoting cultural tourism in the Region.


 

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata

Photo: Jorge Franganillo

BOROBUDUR

Magelang, Indonesia

Among the world’s largest religious sites, Borobudur in central Java is on a par with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Built in the 9th Century, it was a center of Buddhism at the time the Srivijayan Empire became the first kingdom to dominate the islands of Sumatra and neighboring Java. Borobudur is representative of Javanese architecture that blends the concept of Nirvana, the final goal of Buddhism, with the native custom of venerating ancestors. Located on a highland 40 kilometers from Yogyakarta, the magnificent Borobudur temple overlooks rolling hills, lush forests and twin volcanoes. Its nine-tiered floor plan consists of six square platforms placed one above the other, three circular atriums at the top, and pagodas. They are decorated with beautiful reliefs and a total of 504 Buddha statues. Guinness World Records make in the world’s largest Buddhist temple, while UNESCO added it to the World Heritage Sites in 1991.


 

Photo: Charles Kimball
Photo: www.helpfulboytravels.com

THE ANANDA TEMPLE

Bagan, Myanmar

A sea of temples and pagodas in central Myanmar is a wonder to behold. The ancient city of Bagan was capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th Centuries. During that time, thousands of Buddhist temples, dome-shaped shrines and monasteries were constructed. Among them, the Ananda Temple was built by King Kyanzittha in 1105 A.D. It’s very well preserved and accessible to visitors. Inside the most revered temple of Bagan, huge Buddha statues stand facing east, west, north and south in the corridors illuminated by natural light. The building is built of white sandstone that’s characteristic of ancient Mon architecture.


 

 

Photo: Trairat Songpao
Photo: Trairat Songpao

THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA (WAT PHRA KAEW)

Bangkok, Thailand

Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha was consecrated in 1784 during the reign of King Rama I, founding father of the Rattankosin Kingdom and the first monarch of the reigning Chakri Dynasty. Inside, the Emerald Buddha reposes on an elevated altar surrounded by gilded décor. The bright green stone statute of the Buddha is regarded as the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The royal temple stands embraced by dome-shaped shrines, pagodas, and religious halls. The corridors are adorned with mural paintings depicting episodes from Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It’s now one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.


 

Photo: www.bjornfree.com
Photo: Thomas Schoch

THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA

Yangon, Myanmar

The historic 99-meter-tall Shwedagon Pagoda stands surrounded by a sea of 68 smaller stupas. It’s also known as the Golden Pagoda for the gilded dome-shaped structure that dominates the Yangon skyline. Legend has it that the large religious monument was built some 2,500 years ago, but archeologists put its beginning between the 6th and 11th Centuries based on evidence of Mon temple architecture. Shwedagon is regarded as the most sacred pagoda for the people of Myanmar. As gestures of respect, visitors are required to remove their shoes on entering the temple compound. From past to present, people have donated gold and gemstones that go towards restoring the pagoda to its original splendor. “Shwe” is a local word for gold, while “Dagon” is the old name of Yangon.


 

Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com
Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com

THE TEMPLE OF DAWN (WAT ARUN)

Bangkok, Thailand

One of the most ancient temples in Thailand, the Temple of Dawn is located across the river from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. The Buddhist temple that existed on the site was originally called Wat Makok. As the Ayudhya Period ended and Thon Buri became a new capital, the temple was renamed Wat Chaeng. In the early Rattanakosin Period, the name was changed to Wat Arun as a symbol of the first light of a new day. The Buddhist temple is renowned for its colorfully decorated pyramidal structures. The tapering conical towers, known as Prangs, are adorned with a mosaic of ceramic tiles and glass that shimmers in the sunlight. The Prangs of Wat Arun are best viewed from across the river. They were on the logo of the Bangkok Art Biennale that just ended.


Thailand Has Widest Income Inequality in the ASEAN

Thailand Has Widest Income Inequality in the ASEAN

It’s an inconvenient truth that doesn’t bode well for the future. But let’s face reality in an honest way. The Global Wealth Report 2018 published by the Credit Suisse Research Institute showed Thailand scoring 90.2 on the Gini coefficient (also the Gini index), making it a country with the widest income inequality in the ASEAN, and one of four worst performers on the world chart, which include Ukraine (95.5), Kazakhstan (95.2), and Egypt (90.9).

/// ASEAN ///

The Gini coefficient, named after Italian demographer Corrado Gini, is a statistic measure of the degree of inequality represented by a set of values from zero to 1, or 100 depending, zero being perfect equality in either income or wealth. Hence, the higher the values, the greater the wealth is being more unevenly distributed.

The Credit Suisse report visualizes the global wealth distribution in the form of a wealth pyramid, which places adults in one of four wealth bands: under-10,000 USD, between 10,000 and 100,000 USD, between 100,000 and 1 million USD, and over-1 million USD.

In Thailand, the distribution of adults by wealth range is heavily concentrated at the bottom end of the wealth spectrum. Precisely, 91.7% of adults belong in the under-10,000 USD wealth band, 7.5% in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD band, and 0.7% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD band. Only 0.1% are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range. This translates into a high income inequality value of 90.2 on the Gini coefficient.

As for Asia, there is a substantial degree of polarization between high-income countries (Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore) and the low-income countries (including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam). On average the Asia-Pacific region (excluding India and China) has a high income inequality value of 90.1 on the Gini index.

North Jakarta, Indonesia / Photo: Chris Bentley

Across the ASEAN membership, Indonesia comes in second at 84.0, followed by the Philippines at 82.6 on the Gini index. Like in Thailand, only 0.1% of Indonesian and Philippine adult populations are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range.

Myanmar has a Gini index value of 58.2, making it a country with the narrowest income gap in the ASEAN. Interestingly, 98.9% of its adult population belongs in the low-income wealth band with 0% in the 100,000 USD range and beyond.

In Singapore, only 13.8% of its adult population are members of the under-10,000 USD wealth range, while 38.2% belong in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD range, and the majority 44% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD wealth band. Its income inequality value on the Gini index is 75.8.

The Gini coefficient shows the statistical dispersion of income or wealth among the citizens of a country. It’s the most common method of measuring inequality. The scale ranges from zero to 1, or 100 depending. A Gini coefficient of zero refers to perfect equality in the data being analyzed, while 1 (or 100) means there’s a maximum inequality. Gini values are key to understanding a wealth pattern that gives us an idea where to start to tackle the problem.

 

You may also like…

Mahanakorn SkyWalk , King Power Mahanakhon
MAHANAKHON SKYWALK; BEST PLACE TO SEE THE BREATHTAKING SKYLINE OF BANGKOK

 

ASEAN PARADISE ISLANDS NEED TIME TO RECOVER

 

ASEAN Paradise Islands Need Time to Recover

ASEAN Paradise Islands Need Time to Recover

Thailand’s Maya Bay, the Philippines’ Boracay Island, and Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago have seen multiple disturbances in recent years. Without a doubt they need all the help they can get to accelerate the restoration of marine ecosystems. Let’s see what measures have been taken to save them.

Thailand // The Philippines // Myanmar

Maya Bay, the Phi Phi Islands Marine Park, Thailand

In Thailand, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation closed the popular tourist destination Maya Bay for four months effective June 1. Because recovery was progressing more slowly than had been anticipated earlier, the authorities announced on October 2 that Maya Bay would remain closed indefinitely. The ban was deemed necessary to let nature take its course with respect to the health and sustainability of the organisms that exist there.

Maya Bay was made famous by the 2000 drama thriller “The Beach,” starring Leonardo Di Caprio. It lies as part of the Phi Phi Islands marine park in the Andaman Sea. The day-tripper paradise gets an average 2 million visitors a year, thanks to its proximity to Phuket and Thailand’s western shore.

 

Boracay Island, the Philippines / Photo: www.travelmag.com
Boracay Island, the Philippines

In the Philippines, the popular tourist attraction Boracay Island, dubbed the “Best Island in the World” in 2012 by Travel+Leisure Magazine, was shuttered for six months effective April 26, 2018. The closure was part of a wider effort at assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been damaged by humans. The tropical paradise is scheduled to reopen on October 26.

 

Cock’s Comb Island
Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar / Photo: www.burmaboating.com

In Myanmar, from time to time the curtain falls on the islets of Mergui Archipelago in the far south of the country. The much sought-after destinations in the Andaman Sea are easily accessible from Thailand’s Ranong Province. For environmental reason, Nyaung Oo Phee Island was closed to visitors on occasions. The same applied to Cock’s Comb Island, also called Emerald Heart for its blue green water color, and Cockburn Island (Kawthoung). Check it out before you visit them.

Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar / Photo: www.waaleresort.com
We Ale Island Resort / Photo: www.waaleresort.com

There are other beautiful islets in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago that have remained largely unspoiled. They include Lampi, which is part of the Lampi Marine National Park, and nearby We Ale Island.

Virtual Reality on Google

Virtual Reality on Google

 Of course you have heard of the oldest and most famous places in world history. But, do you know that one of Google’s main ambitions is to inspire you to see them in a fun and simple way?

 

/// Photo: Google ///

With Google VR and drone footage, the multinational technology company lets you experience virtual reality of 25 historic sites in 18 countries across the globe — from Bagan, an ancient city in central Myanmar, to Thailand’s former capital Ayutthaya, to the ruins of Pompeii in southern Italy, and Al Azem Palace in Syria, which dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire.  

Also enjoyed by many is Google Arts and Culture, an online platform through which people can access images of artworks and exhibits hosted by participating museums. For the education of future generations, Google is partnering with CyArk, a non-profit organization dedicated to making historical and cultural heritage sites accessible to the public. CyArk uses laser light technology to crate 3D representations of sites of outstanding universal value.

For now, join us on incredible adventures to some of the most famous heritage sites in the ASEAN. Appreciate peace and tranquility in Bagan, an ancient city in Myanmar, and experience virtual reality of Wat Phra Sri Sanpet in Ayuttyaya, Thailand. The temple ruins were used as backdrop for scenes in one of many Hollywood movies filmed in Thailand. (https://artsandculture.google.com/project/cyark)

3D Model of Eim Ya Kyaung Temple in Bagan, Myanmar
3D Model of Wat Phra Sri Sanpet in Ayuttyaya, Thailand 
Pompeii, Italy
Teotihuacán, Mexico
Taos Pueblo, the United States
Al Azem Palace, Syria
The Monastery of Geghard, Armenia
The Brandenburg Gate, Germany
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Ayutthaya, Thailand
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand

 

You may also like…

10 UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

5 HEART-SHAPED SPOTS AROUND THE ASEAN

3 Apps to Check Air Pollution Levels

3 Apps to Check Air Pollution Levels

Despite the omnipresence of the Internet in society today, there seems to be a disconnect between the impact of pollution and access to the information needed to protect public health. Strange as it may sound. According to a 2017 estimate by the environmental tech company Plume Labs, only 0.246% of the earth has access to that vital information.

/// ASEAN ///

 

 As air pollution levels rise from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok to Yangon, and Phnom Penh to Jakarta, it’s wise to stay abreast of the latest developments. There are many websites and apps that measure the concentrations of both PM2.5 and PM10 and other pollutants. Here are three useful apps to check air quality wherever you are.

An example page of the Real-time AQI app.
An example of Real-time AQI’s advisory page showing air pollution values, concentrations of airborne particulates, and protective mask recommendations by Greenpeace.

– Air Quality: Real-time AQI App –

The Real-time AQI app for Android and iOS shows air quality information from more than 10,000 monitoring stations in over 60 countries, including mainland China, Korea, Japan and countries across Southeast Asia. It provides, among other things, data about the concentrations of smaller airborne pollutants (PM2.5) and larger particulates (PM10). The former refers to extremely small particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter or about 3% the diameter of human hair.

Updated hourly, the same information is linked to the developer website http://aqicn.org along with data on harmful gases and other readings such as temperatures, pressures, and humidity. The site also publishes visualized maps and protective mask recommendations from the global independent campaign organization Greenpeace. Get to know three types of masks to protect you from PM2.5 that ordinary surgical masks cannot. Whether it’s on the mobile app or the website, good infographics are worth a thousand words and a good place to start researching.


 

Plume Air Report provides air pollution levels in Yangon and Phnom Penh, which are not listed in the AQI app.
Flow, a portable instrument for checking air quality values and weather maps by Plume Air Report.

– Plume Air Report App –

Plume Air Report on the iPhone is a reporting and forecasting app that tracks real-time air pollution levels for every city in the world. The environmental tech company (website https://plumelabs.com) is the maker of “Flow,” a mobile personal air tracker that measures harmful pollutants indoors and outdoors. Real-time data including air quality indices, temperatures, UV levels, winds, and humidity are updated hourly along with pollution forecasts for the next 24 hours and statistics for the past 7 days. Flow makes it possible to track harmful air pollutants even in cities without AQI monitoring stations. The device is open for pre-order. Check the website for availability.


 

An example page of the AirVisual app showing unhealthy air pollution levels in cities across the globe. The information is updated hourly.

– Air Quality: AirVisual App –

AirVisual is a real-time and forecast air quality app that provides AQI indices for over 70 countries worldwide. Available on both Android and iOS, the free app gathers information from more than 9,000 locations via global networks of government monitoring stations and AirVisual’s own sensors. By giving historical, real-time, and forecast air pollution data, AirVisual is a pocket guide to avoiding harmful airborne particles. The AirVisual Earth Map is a good place to start tracking pollution levels and weather conditions with hourly updates.

In Southeast Asia, notably Bangkok, Chiangmai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta, thick haze of air pollution isn’t going away any time soon. As the fight for clean air continues, it pays to be in the know and avoid places with high concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10. The mobile apps mentioned above are three of many technologies designed to get the message across in the interest of public health and safety.

 

You may also like…

AIR QUALITY AROUND THE ASEAN
SOUTHEAST ASIA’S CAR MARKET UPDATES
TEN RATHER ODD SINGAPORE LAWS
5 Heart-Shaped Spots around the ASEAN

5 Heart-Shaped Spots around the ASEAN

Going somewhere this Valentine’s Day? For inspiration, here are five heart-shaped lakes and islands around the ASEAN. Imagine waking up on the beach with crystal clear water, soaking up golden sun on the rice field, or escaping to the forest of luxuriant foliage found only in the tropics. Check out these places.

 

Rih Lake, Myanmar

– Rih Lake / Myanmar –

Dubbed a hidden paradise, Rih Lake is off the beaten track. It’s located in Chin State bordering India and more than 480 km from Mandalay, the second largest city at the center of mainland Myanmar. The isolated, heart-shaped lake is surrounded by paddy fields and forested areas. The area is home to the Mizo people, who inhabit both sides of the Myanmar-India border. The lake, which is accessible from Rihkhawdar, a nearby tourist destination, is considered a pilgrimage site for Mizo people and the passage to their eternal home after death. Because it’s not easy to get to from within Myanmar, most visitors come here from the Indian side. 


 

Siit Lake, the Philippines / Photo: Rafael Naranjo

– Siit Lake / The Philippines –

Siit Lake is in Sulu, a province in the southern part of the Philippines. The heart-shaped body of water is 800 meters wide and 1.6 kilometers from one end to the other. The Sulu archipelago is part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindana0 (ARMM). The provincial capital, Jolo, is located on the island of the same name. The Sulu archipelago is accessible from Mindanao Island. Due to its remoteness, the lake is not easy to get to.


 

Cocks Comp Island, Myanmar / Photo: Gatpattama

– Cocks Comb Island / Myanmar –

Located in the Andaman Sea, Cocks Comb is a small limestone atoll with a stunning heart-shaped lagoon in it. On a clam day, you can swim through a natural tunnel into the beautiful lagoon, also known as the Emerald Heart. The seawater is perfect for snorkeling and coral reef diving. Cocks Comb Island is accessible from Myanmar’s southernmost city of Kawthaung and Thailand’s Ranong Province. Many tour operators offer guided service from Ranong.


 

Dao Island, the Philippines / Photo: www.privateislandsonline.com

– Dao Island / The Philippines –

Dao is a beautiful private island located in Busuanga Bay, Palawan Province. The 47.9-hectare (about half a square kilometer) island boasts crystal clear waters and pristine tropical forest. The crescent shoreline of the paradise island can be seen from the east side. 


 

Thung Thalay Luang, Thailand
Thung Thalay Luang, Thailand

– Thung Thalay Luang / Thailand –

Thung Thalay Luang is an artificial lake designed to store rainwater in the Yom River Basin. Located in the north central province of Sukhothai, the large body of water features a small heart-shaped island with a beautiful Mandapa on it. The pillared pavilion for public rituals contains soil from villages across the province as the symbolism of love and social harmony. Accessible via a well-marked entry road, the island is a sight to behold from the air.

 

You may also like…

10 MOST ROMANTIC HOTELS AND RESORTS IN THE REGION

 

5 AMAZING LESSER-KNOWN TROPICAL ISLANDS

 

THE CAFÉ APARTMENT, A SUPER-HIP BUILDING IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Southeast Asia’s Car Market Updates

Southeast Asia’s Car Market Updates

Here’s an update on Southeast Asia’s automotive markets at the close of 2017. Used cars made up the largest sector in the car markets of Myanmar, and Cambodia. Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Indonesia was the largest car market in Southeast Asia. Region-wide, Toyota reigned supreme as the bestseller except in Malaysia, which was happy to stick with homegrown brands.

The ASEAN car market represents a diverse assortment of brands and a great deal of variety in the way member countries respond to their specific needs. The mix includes thriving homegrown brands, world-class motor vehicle producers, as well as heavens for new and pre-owned cars and trucks.

 

Toyota Avanza is Indonesia’s bestseller among SUV’s and APV’s.

– Thailand and Indonesia –

Thailand and Indonesia are major regional economic players. Indonesia boasted the largest automotive market, while Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s leading motor vehicle producers. In 2017, its total production was expected to top two million units, of which more than half were exported. A slight decrease in 2017 export volumes was more than offset by a 12-percent increase in the internal car market.

The Toyota Hilux pick-up truck reigns supreme in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

The Thai automotive industry has been a success story since 2000. The country produced a little over 400,000 motor vehicles in that year. Toyota Hilux has long been the bestselling model especially in the provinces throughout Thailand. Apart from carrying goods and agricultural products, the truck was used in various forms of human transportation. But for people living in or near the city, Toyota and Honda cars were the preferred choices.

Indonesia, the ASEAN’s largest automotive market, ranked number 17 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Its 2017 production was expected to far exceed 1.2 million units, up from 1,177,389 in 2016, during which 1,048,134 new units were sold on the domestic market. Sport utility vehicles (SUV), all purpose vehicles (APV), and larger trucks were the favorites, considering Indonesia had the largest population in the ASEAN.

Bangkok ranks number 2 among the world’s cities with bad traffic jams. At the same time, Thailand is an automobile manufacturing hub in the ASEAN. / Photo: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

The two countries are grappling with the same problem – traffic congestions.  A TomTom traffic index ranked Bangkok, and Jakarta number 2, and 3, respectively, among the cities with the worst midtown traffic snarl-ups. It was a high price to pay since it was the automotive industry that generated incomes from exports, employment, and tax revenues. As technology advanced, both countries were hoping to count on electric cars and new urban public transport to improve traffic flow.


 

Motor vehicles designed for left-hand-side driving cause much difficulty in Myanmar, which had adopted right-hand-side driving since independence. / Photo: Samutcha Viraporn

– Myanmar and Cambodia –

It was a different situation in Myanmar and Cambodia. Strong economic growth in recent years has seen sharp increases in demands for pre-owned motor vehicles. In both countries, new cars accounted for less than 10 percent of total sales in 2016, during which Myanmar imported as many as 120,000 secondhand vehicles from Japan. Here Toyota Probox was the favorite. Trouble was the all-purpose vehicle from Japan was designed for driving on the left side of the road (the steering wheel being on the right-hand side).  After independence, Myanmar had changed to move traffic in the right side of the path. If you are front seat passengers, watch out for passing and oncoming vehicles when you get out of the car in Myanmar. Judge the space available when getting off the bus, because you could find yourself in the middle of the road.

Suzuki Carry truck

To solve the problem, the Myanmar Government has enacted a law banning the importation of secondhand automobiles designed for driving on the left side of the road. But it would take a long time to see any results. To meet an increasing demand for new automobiles, Suzuki has recently opened a factory in Myanmar. In 2017, it produced 2,700 Suzuki Carry trucks, of which about 1,000 units were sold in the domestic market. In big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, more new cars from Europe and Japan continued to make their presence felt, albeit very slowly.  

Secondhand cars are everywhere in Phnom Penh. / Photo: Samutcha Viraporn

Meanwhile in Cambodia, secondhand Toyota Camry and Lexus SUV’s were the favorites among people in urban areas. The country imported pre-owned automobiles mostly from the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In the small new-car market, the Cambodians generally preferred the Toyota brand with pick-up trucks being the all-time bestsellers. The same was true in nearby Thailand and Laos, where the light-duty trucks were used to carry both farm products and human passengers.


 

The homegrown brand Perodua Axia is Malaysia’s bestseller.

– Malaysia –

The only ASEAN country with successful homegrown brands, Malaysia boasted the third largest automobile market in the Region. Here, new car sales exceeded 580,000 units per year with the Perodua taking the largest portion of the market. (UMW Corporation held 38 percent of shares in the Malaysian car manufacturer.) Perodua sold about 200,000 cars per year, far outranking Honda which sold a little over half that number. Proton, another homegrown Malaysian brand, came in third place, while Toyota in fourth.  


 

Singapore halts car population growth and concentrates on developing urban public transport. / Photo: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

– Other ASEAN Member Countries –

Keep an eye on the Philippines, whose automobile market grew by a whopping 20 percent in 2016. The same was expected in 2017, during which new car sales were expected to be about 450,000 units. Singapore was an entirely different story. It was government policy to keep new car sales growth below 0.25 percent. Meantime, it was focusing on proper maintenance of existing automobiles and developing urban public transit, for which Singapore has already invested US$22.9 billion.

 

You may also like…

WORLDWIDE AIRPORT RANKING 2017: THE BEST AND THE NOT SO GOOD

 

ASEAN TOURISM / WHAT A DIFFERENCE A SLOGAN MAKES!

 

THE QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX IN THE ASEAN FOR 2017

 

There’s More to New Year Than January 1

There’s More to New Year Than January 1

For peoples across the ASEAN, New Year means more than the first day on the new calendar. Whether it’s Songkran, Thingyan, Choul Chnam Thmey, Tet, or Nyepi, the happy day is publicly acknowledged with enthusiasm and joy. As celebrations kick off, traveling can be difficult. We think it wise to plan ahead. Here’s the period the New Year Festival is traditionally celebrated around the ASEAN in 2018. Have a safe journey!

A public procession celebrating the Thingyan Festival, Myanmar / Photo: Tayzar

The New Year Festival differs from country to country across the ASEAN. It’s part of a tradition that has been in existence long before the advent of the new calendar. The happy day goes by different names — “Songkran” in Thailand, “Thingyan” in Myanmar, “Choual Chnam Thmey” in Cambodia, “Tet” in Vietnam, and “Nyepi” in Bali. It’s publicly acknowledged with enthusiasm and festivity that has transformed into the Region’s timeless attraction. If you’re planning a visit during the holiday season, we think it wise to plan ahead. Here’s the period the New Year Festival is traditionally celebrated around the ASEAN in 2018.

An elephant and tourists splash each other with water at the scene of a Songkran event in Thailand. / Photo: JJ Harrison

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia share a common culture when it comes to celebrating New Year. The season of goodwill and festivity is based on Buddhist/Hindu beliefs that they received from India. It’s celebrated around mid-April in keeping with the Buddhist solar calendar. The occasion marks a change of seasons from cold to hot, which coincides with the rising of Aries in ancient astrology.

Over time, each country has developed its own system of beliefs associated with the beginning of a new year. The Myanmar version is concerned with the elephant-headed deity Ganesh, son of Shiva, who is worshipped as the destroyer of obstacles and patron of learning. In Thailand, the beliefs center around the legend of Thao Kibil Prom, a deity who was beheaded after losing a bet on intelligence games. The two stories reflect elaborate systems of Buddhist/Hindu beliefs about cleansing rituals, to which the Southeast Asian mainland is greatly indebted. Over time, the use of water to rid a person and place of something deemed unpleasant or defiling has evolved into a tradition, which later transformed into a popular water festival that we see today. 

The Thingyan water festival in Myanmar / Photo: Tayzar

– Myanmar –

Thingyan is the most widely celebrated festival in Myanmar. Traditionally, it was a public holiday that usually lasted about ten days to allow the people plenty of time to travel, celebrate the water festival, and reunite with families in far-away provinces. Just recently the holiday period has been cut short despite opposition from some sectors. As for 2018, the Thingyan Festival is scheduled for April 13 through 16, and culminates in Myanmar New Year’s Day on April 17. In Yangon, the water festival centers around Kandawgyi Pet Lann Road, and Kabaraye Road.

 

A bucket and a water pistol are absolutely necessary if you plan on taking part in the water festival celebrating Thailand’s New Year come mid-April. / Photo: Takeaway

– Thailand –

Thailand’s traditional New Year, known as Songkran, falls on April 13 through 15. In Bangkok, the water festival takes place on various locations, such as Khao San Road that’s popular among foreign tourists, and Silom Road that’s favorite among the general public including the gay community. In fact, a good time is had by all during Songkran, and it’s not limited to just the two spots mentioned. Up north, the province of Chiangmai is mega rich in Songkran tradition. Tourists, both local and foreign, traverse thousands of miles to converge in the city during the high season.

 

Songkran Festival in Laos / Photo: Njambi Ndlba

– Laos –

The people of Laos start celebrating Songkran or Pi Mai Lao (literally Lao’s New Year) on April 13. Take time to relax since April 14 through 16 is the official public holiday. It’s a slice of paradise for those impressed by warm, sweet, and welcoming hospitality unique to the Lao PDR.

 

A gong and tom-tom procession heralds the Cambodian New Year. / Photo: Rdghalayini

– Cambodia –

For 2018, the Cambodian New Year or Choul Chnam Thmey falls on April 13 through 16. The annual event is celebrated with a multitude of joyful festivities and merit making ceremonies in Buddhism. People often confuse Choul Chnam Thmey with the Cambodian Water Festival, which is an entirely different event. The Water Festival, known as Bon Om Touk, is celebrated with row boat racing in the capital Phnom Penh usually in October or November each year.

ASEAN Tourism / What a Difference a Slogan Makes!

ASEAN Tourism / What a Difference a Slogan Makes!

Since 2013, the ASEAN as a whole has attracted upwards of 100 million visitors from across the globe. Slogans appear to have a significant role in motivating the potential tourists and travelers to make a visit. While we have grown familiar with our amazing memorable phrase, other countries have theirs. Let’s see what works across the Region.

/// ASEAN ///

 

Floating Market, Thailand / Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand

According to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, the ASEAN Region “continues to be one of the most exciting parts of the global economy, having grown by around 5% a year in nearly two decades.”

The WEF report said that about 104 million foreign travelers visited the Region in 2015, while ASEANstats.org, a division under the AEC Department of the ASEAN Secretariat, put the number in excess of 108 million. Of this, nearly 46 million or 42.2 percent were travelers from within the ASEAN membership. Meantime, the Region welcomed about 18 million travelers from China. A forecast indicated the number could top 20 million in 2017.

Slogans appear to have significant impact on the tourism industry. Many countries have seen great success for they provide a glimpse into pretty much everything a destination has to offer, from natural and cultural attractions to food to history and the people. All the good attributes are encapsulated in a single striking phrase.

Since 1998, “Amazing Thailand” has been the short and sweet slogan that worked best for the Kingdom. It contributed to propelling Thailand to the ninth place among the World’s Top 10 International Tourism Destinations in 2016, during which it drew up to 32.6 million foreign visitors. 

Phi Phi Le, Thailand / Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Breakfast is served Singapore style / Photo: Sittisak Namkham

At the same time, WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Singapore as Southeast’s most tourism-friendly country, followed by Malaysia and Thailand in second and third places.

As for Cambodia, the tourism industry accounts for 28.3% of GDP and counting, thanks to Angor Wat being the country’s landmark attraction.

The Philippines has seen success in tourism as a result of having many beautiful islands, while Indonesia thrives on rich and diverse natural attractions.

Myanmar is coming back strong, albeit with a few hiccups in the areas of accommodations, conveniences, and modern amenities.

Indonesian version of the Monkey King Photo: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangoon, Myanmar / Photo: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

For your reading pleasure, here’s a list of tourism slogans from around the Region. Check it out.

Brunei – The Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures

Cambodia – Kingdom of Wonder

Indonesia – Wonderful Indonesia

Laos – Simply Beautiful

Malaysia – Truly Asia

Myanmar – Let the Journey Begin

The Philippines – It’s More Fun in the Philippines

Singapore – Your Singapore

Thailand – Amazing Thailand

Vietnam – Timeless Charm

Fresh fish in Laung Prabang market, Laos / Photo: Samutcha Viraporn

 

You may also like…

TEN RATHER ODD SINGAPORE LAWS
SEVEN OF THE HIPPEST NEW PLACES EVERYONE IN BANGKOK SHOULD CHECK OUT
SOUVENIRS OF A MYANMAR VISIT

 

 

 

X