Hong Kong’s first Hooters is already causing controversy

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FoodBeast/Next Shark (by Ryan General):

American restaurant chain Hooters, known for its skimpily dressed female servers is about to open its first restaurant in Hong Kong. A month before its launch, however, the sports bar that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” is already attracting controversy.

Set to occupy a prime location in Hong Kong’s Central district along Wyndham Street, Hooters Hong Kong will be just one of the 30 branches that Bangkok-based Destinations Resorts will be bringing to Asia on behalf of Hooters Asia.

While preparations are all well under way for the Hong Kong opening, Hooters Asia general manager Mike Warde is also fending off criticisms about the company’s image and hiring processes.

We’re a sports bar, a family-oriented, fun-loving, entertainment outlet. We have standards for our service and food,” Warde told South China Morning Post in an interview.

For Warde, the Hooters girls who he calls the chain’s “brand ambassadors” are not dressed provocatively but are simply wearing sportswear. He also denied that breast size is a factor in the company’s recruitment.

That’s a myth. That was 30 years ago,” he said while showing a photograph of Thai Hooters girls with small breasts. “The reason they don’t look flat chested is because they are wearing Wonderbras.”

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A friend of one Hong Kong applicant, however is refuting his claim. Scarlet (not her real name), an applicant herself, said her friend who applied didn’t pass because of her breast size.

Her boobs are smaller, so of course they won’t hire her,” she said.

The recruitment process has been going on for months and so far 12 Hong Kong women, one Japanese woman and two European women are being considered for the job.

Aside from normal food-serving tasks, Hooter girls are also expected to perform two-minute dance numbers at certain intervals.

They stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, and dance every 45 minutes,” says Warde. “In Thailand guests pay them to do hula hoop and the money goes to charity. We have pom-poms and we take them to the rugby pitch to support teams.

To stay in shape, they are also required to attend three kickboxing classes per week.

We teach the girls to be a lot more respectful of themselves, have more confidence in themselves. They have a fit body and fit mind and we bring out their characters because we put them all over social media,” he added.

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They said, ‘This is the largest size’ – I think that was true. But it’s crazy that the largest size is extra small. My boobs were exploding and my ass was half showing out,” the 24-year-old said.

When I went for the uniform fitting they said I’m the only girl with boobs. They want to hire locals, but most local girls are really skinny.”

Scarlet also found the salary disappointing and realized she could earn more as a beauty therapist. The HK$15,000 ($1,932) per month offered for a five-and-a-half-day week is barely above standard.

They said I would get good tips, but in Hong Kong I don’t think the guys would pay a lot. There isn’t the tipping culture here,” Scarlet said.

Back in the U.S., the company has closed about a dozen stores in recent years, with observers saying the concept of “breastaurants” is outdated.

Warde believes that it will be a different story in Asia. “In Asia we are a new brand. And in America they’ve been closing the ones that haven’t been performing and reopening others. Over the last four years it’s growing, they are on the up again,”he said.

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In the next five years, the aggressive expansion plan of Hooters Asia will also see restaurants opening in Indonesia, Thailand, Macau, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Top 5 wedding destinations in Asia

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Audrey Magazine (by Pauline Yang):
While this is surely an exciting time for engaged couples, you don’t need me to tell you that it can be stressful planning a wedding. For instance, those who have close relatives in foreign countries may end up with guests who simply can’t make it because a trip to America is expensive. This is just one of the reasons many couples are now opting for a destination wedding in Asia. It can be easier for some relatives to travel to, and with the right budgeting, a wedding in Asia can even be less expensive than having a wedding in America. Sounds like a win-win!

So if you’re considering a wedding in Asia, we’re here to help! Check out our top 5 wedding destinations as well as specific locations we recommend to have the wedding of your dreams.

1. Taiwan – Lakeside Luxury

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Taiwan has become a global trendsetter in the wedding industry, inviting international couples to celebrate the beginning of a new life together on the beautiful island. Many find that they are able to have more lavish parties and photoshoots for a fraction of the price. Taiwan has proven to be a great choice for those on a budget but don’t want to compromise on their happy day.

Where in Taiwan?
One of the eight wonders of Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is a scenic jewel in the island’s mountainous heart. The romantic lake transforms throughout the day to create different moods. In the early morning it is misty and mysterious. During the day it is a mirror of the mountains and forests that surround it. At sunset it shimmers with gold dust, and after dark, the lights of the villages and temples reflect gently across its surface. A stay at the Fleur de Chine Hotel, situated on the northern peninsula of the Sun Moon Lake, presents these magnificent views, as well as services and accommodations for an elegant outdoor wedding. Under the sun and moon, surrounded by the sky and earth, couples will surely take home sweet, unforgettable memories.

2. Indonesia – Island Dreams

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For those dreaming of a storybook wedding, Indonesia can provide dreamy backdrops and vivid imagery. With botanical gardens, intimate beaches and cliff top venues overlooking the Indian Ocean, Bali effortlessly sets the scene for romance.

Where in Indonesia?
Consider Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort for your stay and venue. The picturesque property transports guests to an otherworldly setting where postcards come to life. Pan Pacific’s grand location, luxurious facilities and excellent service was recently selected to host Miss World. Guests can play around on the award-winning Greg Norman golf course and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the Indian Ocean. The resort’s spacious coastline lawns serve as a perfect wedding location with incredible views of Tanah Lot and its iconic temple.

3. Singapore – Chic Cityscape

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If you opt for a more modern wedding in the city, Singapore is your place to go. The island country is known for its surreal city skyline. Singapore is not only considered one of the safest places to live, it is also boasted to be the food capital of the world. Sounds like a solid place for a wedding!

Where in Singapore?
Marina Bay Sands Singapore
is home to the futuristic Skypark, one of many iconic architectural buildings in Singapore. Its daring design and breathtaking rooftop decks, including the world’s largest infinity pool at 57 stories above ground, draw many couples to this contemporary resort. The Skypark’s landscaped rooftop gardens offers 360-degree views of Singapore and its offshore islands, easily becoming the most photogenic venue for couples tying the knot. World-class chefs and culinary concepts are also available to satisfy every taste.

4. Thailand – Golden Hours

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A country rich with culture and beautiful scenery, Thailand is one of the most versatile destinations for a wedding. From nature parks and beaches to Buddhist temples, there is a venue for every bride’s vision. Thailand’s prime location in the center of Asia also makes it a sensible choice for those inviting relatives from all over Asia.

Where in Thailand?
The Four Seasons Tented Camp, situated in an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle, is right on the border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Intimate tented camps perched on private platforms receive six-star service to ensure guests have the best experience during their stay. Still not convinced? Imagine dressing in soft Thai silks while riding a gentle elephant through the bamboo jungle before your wedding ceremony. Yes, it’s just as beautiful as it sounds.

5. India – Heaven in the Hills

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There are many hidden gems in India when it comes to finding the perfect getaway. Its long history and strong cultural traditions make India a special destination to experience. For instance, the “pink city” of Jaipur is a popular choice for those interested in exploring the diversity of wedding venues available, such as ornate palaces, old mansions and private villas.

Where in India?
Nestled in the undulating Aravalli hills is the gorgeous Tree of Life Resort & Spa. This venue features 14 luxury villas built using local styles and designs to reflect Rajasthan’s long architectural history. Complete with an infinity pool at its center and private outdoor spas for each villa, this resort was created with a vision of a heaven away from the bustle of city life. Guests also have the opportunity to dine in their villa from a personalized 4-course menu that guests can design daily with the head chef’s help. Talk about an extravagant getaway!

Hooters racks up 30 new locations throughout Southeast Asia

 

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FoodBeast:

Hooters of America LLC announced that they will be opening 30 Hooters locations in Southeast Asia. The development agreement will bring to Asia 30 new restaurants over the next six years. Hooters first hit Asia with Thailand‘s opening of Hooters Phuket.

We’re guessing it found some success as now the brand intends to further expand into neighboring countries, including: Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam. Thailand will also possibly see more Hooters restaurants there as well.

Currently, the Atlanta-based franchiser has more than 430 locations in 28 countries. The majority can be found in the US.

The owl-themed restaurant is known worldwide for its chicken wings and cheesy appetizers. We hear the servers are also pretty charismatic too.

 

Image of Buddha wearing headphones triggers controversy in Myanmar

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The Facebook post depicting Buddha wearing headphones that led to Philip Blackwood’s arrest in Myanmar.

NBC News:

This is insulting Myanmar, Buddhism and 500 millions Buddhists around the globe,” Facebook user Htet Naing Win responded to the bar’s post, using more moderate language than some.

The case comes amid a surge in Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar — which emerged in 2011 from half a century of military rule and global isolation. A powerful group of monks who fear Buddhist culture in Myanmar is under threat has emerged and is promoting restrictive and controversial laws aimed at “the protection of race and religion”.

Blackwood is being held in Myanmar’s notorious Insein prison where he is potentially facing a four-year jail term. Lawyers predict the trial will stretch for months.

The case has been condemned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. It adds to concerns that Myanmar’s nominally civilian government is backsliding on rights reforms. It also illustrates the increasingly powerful influence on law and politics of the hardline nationalist monks.

Violence relating to a rise in religious tensions has claimed the lives of more than 240 people, mainly Muslims, in Myanmar since 2012 and actions deemed to offend Buddhist sensitivity are flashpoints.

As telecommunications in the developing country expand, social media is providing an increasingly powerful platform for those intent on promoting intolerance.

In July, Myanmar government’s revealed it had been in contact with Facebook representatives seeking advice on curbing online hate-speech amid fears it had fueled religious violence in the country’s second-largest city Mandalay earlier that month.

So sensitive are religious issues in Myanmar just now that Blackwood was initially unable to find a lawyer willing to represent him. Riot police have been drafted in for the trio’s court appearances as supporters of the Buddhist nationalist 969 movement gathered outside.

Image: Buddhist monks take pictures at a courthouse in Yangon, Myanmar
Buddhist monks take pictures at a courthouse as they wait to see New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood after a hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, on Dec. 18.

The lawyer who eventually agreed to take on the New Zealander’s case, Mya Thway has said he had since received anonymous messages on Facebook threatening to “cut him to pieces and burn him” for doing so.

While the psychedelic Buddha image, or ones like it, are a familiar enough sight adorning T-shirts in the tourist areas of neighbouring Thailand, the insensitivity of using a sacred symbol to promote a bar in Myanmar has been widely recognized within the country. But outside Myanmar, many have reacted with surprise to the degree of anger the case has provoked.

It can be difficult to make sense of Burmese Buddhist reactions to this case, which many people perceive as over-reactions,” said Matthew Walton, Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in modern Burmese studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Walton described the use of the image as “both a bad business move and a culturally insensitive advertising effort that was at a minimum disrespectful to local Buddhists’ tradition but in the context of an emboldened Buddhist nationalist movement, an incredibly stupid and damaging act.”

Blackwood’s case is believed to be a first in terms of a Westerner facing legal action relating to current religious sensitivities, but according to Walton it remains unclear whether the case heralds a wider rise in intolerance towards perceived Western threats to Buddhism.

He added: “I do want to emphasize that I personally think an extended prison term would be excessive, but I also imagine that there’s an interest in making an example of the defendants, so as to establish how seriously the Myanmar government will take insults to Buddhism.”

David Mathieson, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher on Myanmar, described the case as “very disturbing.” He cited it as part of an “escalation in a pattern of rising Burmese and Buddhist ultra-nationalism, anti-Muslim fervor, and creeping xenophobia.”

The main target of the Buddhist nationalist movement has been the country’s Muslims, who make up about 5 percent of its 53 million people.

Blackwood has pleaded not guilty to two charges relating to insulting religion, and a third charge of disobeying an order issued by a public servant. The father of a 4-month-old child insists he did not mean to offend or insult anyone but remains behind bars.

I believe the law says the act must be deliberate, require malice with intent to offend,” Blackwood told the court on Dec. 26. “I have said a number of times, there was no intent.”

Concern over incitement to violence via social media, have led to the launch of a movement aimed at addressing the issue. The Flower Speech campaign — or “Panzagar” in Burmese — was started by Nay Phone Latt, a blogger and activist who was imprisoned between 2008 and 2012 for his online writings about the country’s then-military rulers.

The organization aims to promote responsible use of social media, while upholding the principles of free-speech, long oppressed in Myanmar.

While Nay Phone Latt, who featured on TIME’s list of the world’s most influential people in 2010, said he didn’t believe Blackwood and his co-defendants should be jailed but added that he didn’t agree with their Facebook post.

It is difficult to stand on their side,” Nay Phone Latt said. “Every religion has to respect others if we want to stay together peacefully. I am a Buddhist and liberal thinking, but I don’t like that kind of thing — it’s wrong to use an image of the Buddha in that way.”

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Checking Out the Myanmar Amusement Park “Happy World”: An All-star Lineup from Mickey Mouse to Doraemon to…BATMAN?

RocketNews 24: 

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When traveling overseas, we like to check out the nearby shopping malls and amusement parks, too, whenever we can. But we don’t waste our time with the famous amusement parks that everyone and their mother has been to. For us, it’s the local, never-before-heard-of amusement parks that we love. Why? Because that’s where you can really see the way the local people live… and some of the clever stuff they’ve come up.

So, this time around, we headed to “Happy World” in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), located right in front of the world-famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

  • Out of nowhere…Bugs Bunny!?

As you approach the entrance, you can see a sign with “Happy World” written on it. If you look closely you can make out a full lineup of characters, including what look like Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, and a rather questionable Doraemon. (If you’re not familiar with the name, Doraemon is a much beloved Japanese cartoon characterthat looks vaguely like a large robot cat.) So that’s what we have to look forward to. Alright! Let’s do it!

  • The mouse is in the house!

At the entrance, we were greeted by Pluto, who was helping hold up a shish kebab cart. As we proceeded into the park, there were a bunch of Happy World flags. And among them was none other than Disney’s Mickey Mouse!

  • The Puny Batman

Going further, we came across a Teletubbies statue. But the eyes… oh, how horrible! With a cuteness rating of zero, they were simply terrifying and if we had kids with us we’d be ushering them by as quickly as possible to avoid countless nights of bad dreams and bed wetting. After recovering from that ordeal, we headedinto the facilities, and a number of suspicious Mickey Mouse figures appeared! Even legendary Japanese superhero Ultraman made an appearance, just sort ofhanging out. But the best, without question, was the puny Batman we spotted in a quiet corner, a definite must-see.

  • Admission fee: 21 yen (US$0.21)!

All things considered, we were really looking forward to seeing some costumed characters, but, unfortunately, they never showed up. Maybe it was too hot? Still, the admission fee was only 200 kyat—about 21 yen (US$0.21). Extremely cheap!And even at that price, we could enjoy the attractions all we wanted!

  • Basically aindoor amusement park

While there weren’t any flashy attractions like big roller coasters, there was a haunted house, a mirror maze, an indoor Ferris wheel, and a winter room. It was a great place to play around, kind of like an indoor amusement park. And the haunted house was actually much better than we expected. (Check out the end of the video below to get an idea!)

  • Alcohol? No problem!

For adults, there were also some billiard tables to be enjoyed. And if you felt like relaxing, even just hanging out in the gardens around the premises was great! Then, after you’re done having fun, you can sit down and gulp down a frosty Myanmar beer. Yep, that’s right, this is a pleasure land with all the alcohol you want! If you have the time, be sure to check it out!

The gang’s all here!

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So tranquil

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And here’s the entrance!

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The helpful Pluto

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And here’s… someone else!

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Doraemon, Bugs Bunny, and…what the hell is that blue thing??

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Whaaaat?? Mickey Mouse!?

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Yikes! They have some crows here too!

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Teletubbies! (We think.)

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This is what nightmares are made of.

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And this is what a lifetime of therapy sessions results in.

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Entering the indoor amusement park.

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Here’s the game room.

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Hey, even monks play videogames!

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Betty Boop! Haven’t seen you in a while!

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Looks like she’s seen better days.

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Mickey!

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More Mickey!

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Even more Mickey!

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And Minnie’s here too!

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BATMAN!!

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Kinda puny looking actually…

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The park was a bit simple but had a good vibe.

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And it had bumper cars, too!

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The winter room.

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Take a look at this! Space Pirates of the Flamingo Pond?

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Billiards for the cooler kids.

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And karaoke for the rest of us!

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Here’s one of the flashier attractions.

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But the haunted house is our number one recommendation!

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You can see what’s going on inside via security cameras. (Clever!)

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And this handsome young man is the beer server!

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Check out this link:

Checking Out the Myanmar Amusement Park “Happy World”

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Birthday bash: iconic Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong celebrates 85 years

 

Fireworks erupt from the Peninsula Hotel to mark the iconic Hong Kong hotel's 85th birthday.Fireworks erupt from the Peninsula Hotel to mark the iconic Hong Kong hotel’s 85th birthday.

Hong Kong kicked up its heels on Wednesday night for one of the biggest birthday parties of the year.

With 2000 guests, the Peninsula Hotel celebrated its 85th year with a light show on its classic facade, fireworks, bands and DJs flown in from Paris and Tokyo. There will be some sore heads this morning, with champagne and caviar served into the night.

Several levels of the hotel were turned over for the glamorous party, including the lobby, where high tea is a tradition, being transformed into a giant rose garden.

The Philippe Starck-designed Felix restaurant on the 28th floor took on the guise of a decadent nightclub.

The light show, set to specially composed music, featured the illustrations of Hong Kong artist Lee Chi Ching.

It told the story of the rise of the city and the hotel, including significant events such as the landing of Pan Am’s China Clipper, the first passenger flight linking Asia and North America.

Robert Cheng, marketing manager of Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel Group, said invites to the party were the “hottest ticket in Hong Kong“.

People had been asking me for invitations for months,” he said.

But in a way, the partying has been going on all year. There have been special birthday events such as old-fashioned tea dances with a 10-piece big band, champagne brunches and tea parties for local 85-year-olds.

Wednesday night’s heels up did, however, cap a big year for the hotel, which opened in 1928.

It has recently completed a $HK450 million ($A64 million) renovation of its 300 rooms with homely interiors, marble bathrooms and touch-screen technology that does everything from opening curtains to ordering room service.

In addition, the billionaire Kadoorie family that owns the hotel group is due to open its 10th property, in Paris, on August 1.

The family has also purchased hotel sites in London and Myanmar.

The 235-room Paris property, in the 16th arrondissement near Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomph, will have a small rooftop restaurant/bar with 360-degree views.

It will also have a fine dining Chinese restaurant, one of few in Paris.

The building was a grand hotel at the turn of the century and we have essentially restored the facade and the historical parts,” Mr Cheng said. “Then we have integrated some more contemporary design touches. It is a very Parisian hotel.”

The London property will be in Belgravia, near Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. It’s currently an ugly 1960s office block marked for demolition.

The demolition will take about a year,” Mr Cheng said. “We can’t do anything too drastic [with noise and disruption] given our neighbour has quite a lot of pull.

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, the hotel group has purchased the former Burma Railway Building in Yangon.

Check out this link:

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Rare Buddhist art from Myanmar, coming soon to a museum near you

 

Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu made the news this past weekend in a New York Times report from Myanmar (Burma) on the “coming out” of that country’s relatively little-seen early Buddhist art.

Writing from Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar, Times correspondent Jane Perlez describes how Chiu and a small group of American museum curators have been exploring Myanmar’s “neglected museums and dusty storerooms” in preparation for a 2015 Asia Society Museum exhibition of Myanmar’s Buddhist art.

As Chiu explains to the Times:

The show will be a coming out for Burma …. The country has been closed off for so many years, we hope the show will assume a bigger significance, and shed new light on material not seen before.

The article, “Opening a Door to the Burmese Past, and the Present, Too,” gives a colorful account of the curatorial team’s travels from Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar’s former capital, to its current one, Napidyaw, to Bagan, a onetime royal seat on the banks of the Irrawaddy River where thousands of temples, monasteries and pagodas were built between the 9th and 13th centuries CE.

The Times also offers tantalizing descriptions of several of the pieces being considered for the exhibition, ranging from “gold-painted sphinxlike creatures” found in a rundown library to an exquisite bronze casting in the shape of a lotus flower and a 1,500-year-old bronze Buddha uncovered by a rice farmer plowing his fields in 2005.

Approximately 70 objects will be featured in the exhibition, three quarters of them from Myanmar and the remainder from U.S. museum collections. In exchange for access to the pieces, Asia Society Museum will help train Myanmar’s under-resourced museum employees in conservation techniques.

Check out this link:

Rare Buddhist art from Myanmar, coming soon to a museum near you

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