Centre of Yangon, walking along the iron fence of the City hall, I try the get a closer look at the building, when all of a sudden a man working in a ditch behind the fences is spotting me! "Min - Ga - La - Ba!" He shouts with a smile! "Ming - La - Ba!" I repeat. He is getting out of his ditch, coming towards the fence, we are greeting each other like long time friends; our conversation remains merely smiles. My fondest memory of Myanmar!
Try to do it better than me! Try to learn some more words or add at least: Nay - kaung - bar - ye - lar? (How are you?). And: Nay - kaung - bar - de, Kyay - zu - bar - be! (Fine, thanks!). But don't be in despair! If you cannot pronounce these words, let your guide be the translator!
The government of Myanmar has recognized altogether 67 ethnic groups, which can be assigned to the 8 major groups of: Burman, Shan, Karen, Kachin, Mon, Rakhine, Kayah and Chin. By travelling Myanmar, you will mainly get in touch only with Burman people, which are by government terms not even included in counting the "tribes". They inhabit the area stretching from Yangon along the Ayeyarwady to the north beyond Mandalay.
Endless clashes between the different tribes, especially the Karen, who's district is bordering Thailand's hills as well as the Shan and Kachin, have never been settled or calmed down.
At the end, you might not even recognize the different tribes when visiting Myanmar, but bear in mind, that this country's population is by all means not a homogenous group!
What will be remembered by you is probably not the diffeenr appearance of the tribes, but the gentle, modest, warm, quiet and open behaviour of everybody. The roots of their behaviour might partly be traced down to the Burmese Buddhism and the rules of the "eightfold path".
People who speak English, will frankly talk about their histoy, their current situation and their hopes for the future.
Whatever you experience in this country, consider the difficult financial and social situation of the people in Myanmar. You will agree, that in this light, people's smiles and happiness weigh even more!