Phillip Martin Art

The Asia Collection

Palang Hill Tribe Woman

It was hot in Burma. It was three showers a day hot. And, if it was possible to find a hotel with air conditioning, an afternoon nap in the heat of the day was an excellent idea. So, when I learned about the Palang people, I was intrigued.

Some customs are impossible to comprehend. If you see photos of the Palang people in travel brochures, their clothes are unique, colorful and so very clean. Well, that isn't even close to real life at all. The truth about the Palang is that their women bathed once a year, whether they really needed to or not. Each time they bathed, they put on one of those beautiful, amazing and clean dresses. They didn't take it off until their next bath, next year. If I needed three showers a day, you can figure out how long those dresses remained fresh. It wasn't just me who found this tradition hard to understand.

My Burmese guide said that the people of Burma also found it a strange custom. Burmese mothers, just like all mothers around the world, didn't want their kids dirty. They were known to scold, "Take a bath! I don't want you smelling like a Palang!"

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