Friday June 22, 2018

Karaweik Palace restaurant: Bona fide Myanmarese supper and culture

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By Vishal Gulati

Yangon: At the Karaweik Palace restaurant, built to look like a royal golden teak barge that seems to be floating on the Kandawgyi Lake in the heart of this former capital of Myanmar, a country once considered a pariah under the rule of successive military juntas but which is now coming into its own.

For, just 35,000 kyats ($28/Rs.1,900) you can have snacks, a typical Myanmarese buffet and get a traditional makeup done while enjoying a three-hour-long extravaganza of dance in many forms. Alcohol is extra.

“It’s really a great place to come once you are in Yangon. We really had a royal experience,” remarked US tourist Emma Megan. Her husband Timothy said they also enjoyed romantic sunset on the horizon over the Kandawgyi Lake, also known as Royal Lake.

He said from a distance it was amazing to see the changing colors of the Karaweik’s Pagoda-like rooftop with spires as the sun slowly set.

At night, the barge is lit up and reflects on the calm waters of the lake.

The 400-cover two-storeyed Karaweik Palace, close to the 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of the Buddha’s hair and other holy relics, serves the buffet with a live cultural performance for three hours every evening from 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The entertainment includes puppet show, traditional and acrobatic dances and an elephant (costume) dance mainly depict Myanmarese culture and history. There is also an exhibition of traditional arts, handicrafts and costumes.

The restaurant is also open in the afternoons for lunch and serves Myanmarese and Chinese food sans the cultural program.

The restaurant’s staff is dressed in medieval attire and some like Royal Guards to give you a ‘royal’ feel.

The restaurant also offers local makeup, called ‘thanaka’, at the entrance.

“It’s one of my favourite dining places in Yangon that gives a feel of what the country was centuries ago,” Live to Love India chairperson Arjun Pandey told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Live to Love International is a network of non-profit organizations founded by the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of Drukpa Buddhists.

“The food is authentic, nice and reasonably priced for the show and buffet dinner. Besides, it offers free treats on the walkway that gives a feeling of relishing street food,” Pandy added.

The history of Karaweik Palace dates to 1972 when its construction began. The tourism ministry initially operated it. In 1998, the Zaykabar Company, a major conglomerate with interests in telecom and construction, took it over.

Its design is based on the Pyi Gyi Mon Royal Barge, a boat once used by the Burmese kings to travel.

After seeing an end to five decades of a military junta rule in Myanmar (earlier known as Burma) in 2011 and years of isolation, this South East Asian nation is now opening up to tourists.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says there were more than 4.2 million arrivals at the end of November last year.

Myanmar attracted $2.64 billion foreign investment in 47 projects in the hotels and tourism sector in 2015, up $1.5 billion from $1.14 billion in 36 projects in 2011.

According to the ministry’s master plan (2013-2020), tourist arrivals are estimated to hit 7.49 million in 2020.

A majority of foreign tourists come from China, Thailand, France, Germany and the US. (IANS)

(Vishal Gulati’s visit to Yangon was at the invitation of the India chapter of Live to Love International)

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Watching Movies Breaks Barriers Of Culture: Rajyavardhan Rathore

He said even if the language of the film is not understood, the emotion in a film is understood

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Watching Movies Breaks Barriers Of Culture: Rajyavardhan Rathore
Watching Movies Breaks Barriers Of Culture: Rajyavardhan Rathore, flickr

Watching movies can break barriers of colour and culture, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said here while inaugurating the European Union Film Festival.

Rathore on Monday inaugurated the gala, where 24 latest European movies are being screened from 23 European countries. The festival, which opened with Slovakian movie “Little Harbour”, will traverse through 11 cities in India, read a PIB statement.

Rathore said the charm in watching a film is in seeing the story as well as meeting people, and that is the essence of a film festival. He said that though people across the border vary by skin colour and culture, they are one people, and that watching films breaks these barriers and the story gets communicated to the people of any country.

He said even if the language of the film is not understood, the emotion in a film is understood through the body language.

Cinema
Cinema, flickr

The fest is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, partnering with the delegation of the European Union and embassies of EU member states in various city film clubs. It has movies from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Also read: Actor Naseeruddin Shah Says, 50 Years From Now Cinema Halls Would Be Found In Museums

It will travel through New Delhi, Chennai, Port Blair, Pune, Puducherry, Kolkata, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Thrissur, Hyderabad and Goa till August 31. (IANS)