Asean the organisation of 10 South-East Asian nations celebrated its 50th anniversary recently on Aug 8. Last Wednesday we had run some interesting and amazing points of note from five of the countries in Asean. Here are more interesting snippets from the remaining five Asean nations.


Catch the Pyazat, before it dies

Pyazat, Myanmar’s traditional drama, is on the verge of extinction due to the influence of foreign cultures. The modern form of Pyazat emerged in the late British colonial period with films. The shows that used to last three hours are now down to two and they are mostly performed in rural areas. From preaching morality, these shows now dwell on laughing away the stresses of daily life.

A breathtaking cave in an amazing landscape

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

The Saddan Cave is filled with the images of Buddha. Photo: Myanmar Eleven

The Saddan cave, one of the biggest in Myanmar, is dotted with several images of Buddha. It takes about 20 minutes to cross the cave, if the bats don’t deter you, and the exit opens into a lake, offering a view of a landscape that will leave you feeling enchanted.

A spot to remember a romantic legend

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

Than Daung Gyi is a great place for a weekend getaway. Photo: Myanmar Eleven

Than Daung Gyi – in Kayin state, a four to six-hour train ride from Yangon, is best known as the place of Myanmarese Christians. It is also famous for the legend of Prince Saw Thaw oh Khwa and Princess Naw Bu Baw, who were deeply in love. Though they got married, the prince’s side did not like Naw Bu Baw as they thought she was a witch. After the prince died in battle, she was imprisoned in a rock cavern and eventually died. Local people believe their spirits still wander hand-in-hand through forests in that area.

Asean’s top collection of Buddhist mural paintings

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

Some of the murals at the Lokahteikpan Temple, in Bagan. Photo: Myanmar Eleven

The Lokahteikpan Temple, in Bagan, is said to have the best collection of Buddhist mural paintings in South-East Asia and these were discovered as recently as 1958. The mural paintings emphasise educating people on Theravada Buddhism. The paintings depict the eight Scenes of the Buddha, 10 major stories of Lord Buddha and 550 Jatakas.

Not just a ball game

Chinlone is perhaps the country’s most famous traditional sport. Players in teams of six pass the ball back and forth using their feet, knees, and their heads as they walk around a circle. A player goes into the middle alone, and creates a dance of different moves strung together. Unlike other sports, there is no scoring in Chinlone, and players are judged based on how beautifully they play the game.


Island in a lake on an island in a lake

While Vulcan Point may no longer be the largest specimen of its kind, it is still a marvel of nature to experience. Vulcan Point is on an island in a lake, on an island. The lake surrounding Vulcan Point, Taal Lake, is a volcanic one formed after eruptions sealed the water body from the sea. After centuries of rainfall, it slowly desalinated and become host to a plethora of species that slowly adapted to the change in the salinity of the water. The volcano holding all of this, the Taal Volcano, is the second most active volcano in the Philippines.

Largest mammal eye to body ratio

The Philippine tarsier has the largest mammal eyes, in terms of ratio to the body, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The diminutive chimp is also one of the smallest primates in the world, ranging from 8.5cm to 16cm tall. Despite this small frame, the tarsier’s skull houses a pair of eyes that are 1.6cm in diameter. As a result, its eyes are unable to turn in their sockets. A special adaptation allows their necks to turn 180 degrees in either direction. Furthermore, their eyes can dilate almost completely in poor light conditions, allowing them to see late at night in the forest.

Mother of all pearls

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

The mother of all pearls, the Puerto Princesa . Photo: ANN

The former holder of this accolade, the Pearl of Lao Tzu, was also from the Philippines. The current title-holder, the 34kg Puerto Princesa pearl, was kept under its owner’s bed for over 10 years, where he would take it out and touch it before he went out to fish. It was only when he was to move to another part of the province that it came to light, where the man handed the pearl to his aunt – a tourism officer working in the local government. The pearl was then put on display as a tourist attraction at the local town hall.

Inventor of karaoke

While many assume that the karaoke machine was a Japanese invention, the patent is in fact held by Filipino inventor Roberto del Rosario. He created the Karaoke Sing-Along System in 1975, which contributed to the spread of the trend. Although the karaoke was created by Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue a few years prior, both men have been credited as noteworthy in the history of karaoke.

‘Boondocks’ is Filipino

The expression boondocks, used to refer to isolated places or the countryside, has roots in the Tagalog word “bundok”, which means mountains. It is believed it was adapted into English by American soldiers.


Think coding and programming is hard?

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

When Lim Deng Wen was nine he created his first app. Photo: The Straits Times

The world’s youngest app developer, Lim Ding Wen, created his first app when he was nine in 2009. It is a drawing app named Doodle Kids. Working from an Apple IIGS computer, he wrote it in a few days before porting it for the iPhone and releasing it for free on the iTunes Store. Ding Wen is now an aspiring game developer with more than 20 apps under his belt.

The man behind the name: who is Old Chang Kee?

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

Even Malaysians would recognise this brand, the Old Chang Kee. Photo: The Straits Times

Ironically, there is no such person. The man behind the famous snack chain is Hainanese immigrant Chang Chuan Boo, who set up shop in 1956. He gained fame for his curry puffs at a coffeeshop near Rex Cinema. Locals referred to the snacks as the “Rex Curry Puff”. This business was later bought by Han Keen Juan in 1986, who transformed a small shop along Mackenzie Road to the chain of stores that are well known today. Old Chang Kee was named one of the world’s 20 best fast-food franchises by US-based Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2012.

Blast from the past: Singapore’s first fast food outlet

Fast-food outlets are commonly associated with the golden arches and Colonel Sanders, but for many Singaporeans in the 70s, their first such encounter was in fact A&W (Allen & Wright). A&W was the very first fast-food chain to open in Singapore, bringing in classics such as the Coney Dog, curly fries and the eponymous root beer from America. A&W ceased its operations in 2003 and Singaporeans have little memory of this pioneering franchise today.

The smell of cocoa in Singapore’s west

Asean and the 50th anniversary.

If you get a whiff of cocoa in the air, it could be emanating from this chocolate factory. Photo: The Straits Times

Singaporeans travelling to the west of the island might detect the smell of cocoa. The scent originates primarily from two chocolate factories, Cadbury and ADM Cocoa, 1km from the Boon Lay train station, and which have been in the area for the past two decades. Through roasting, the outer shell of beans open up, and can thus be ground more efficiently into cocoa powder.

Smelly toilets? No way!

From its humble beginnings as the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS), the World Toilet Organisation (WTO) was formed to share information and resources between countries to raise the standards of toilets worldwide. Given the impeccable cleanliness Singapore is known for around the world, it is little surprise that the founder of the RAS and WTO is from Singapore. Despite having an unconventional claim to fame, Jack Sim has received numerous accolades and his efforts have changed the toilets (and lives) worldwide, reaching out to places as far as Samoa.