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Before I left for Myanmar, several girlfriends requested that I bring back Thanaka powder for them. Prior to my trip to Myanmar, I didn't know what Thanaka is. I am not familiar with cosmetics :P
It is a special cream or powder made out of Thanaka trees which grow abundantly in central Myanmar. This yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from the ground bark represents an important part of Myanmar tradition.
In Myanmar, everywhere that I go, I see this paste applied on the faces and sometimes the arms of women and girls. Some men and boys apply it too. It is a distinctive feature of Myanmar.
On my second day in Myanmar, my tour guide brought us to a street market. The women in our tour group was immediately fascinated by this unique wood and its powder when I was haggling over the price with the hawker.
The hawker was selling Thanaka in its natural state as small logs individually or in bundles. It is also available as a paste or in powder form.
Had I bought the log, I would have to grind the bark or wood of the Thanaka tree with a small amount water on a circular stone slab called kyauk pyin which has a channel round the rim for the water to drain into. It is more sensible to buy the ground powder. All I have to do is to add water to it and then I could apply the paste to my face :).
One of our tour members was shooting away while the tour guide was giving an introduction of Myanmar's street market, you can catch a glimpse of me in the picture.
We can buy Thanka powder in Singapore too as there are many Myanmar citizens working and residing here.