When you meet a friend in an English speaking country, you say “Hi”, or “How are you?”In Thailand, you say “Sawaddee”. In Myanmar, you usually say either “where are you going?” Quite strange, right?
In Myanmar, we don’t have an informal phrase or expression to be used as a greeting. The famous phrase “Mingalar Bar” is quite formal and nobody use it in the streets. It is only used in formal announcements on the airplanes! And it is not really Burmese. The expression was invented during the colonial period; a rather indirect translation of “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, “Good evening”, or “Good day”. The closest literal meaning of “Mingalar Bar” is “have good things unto you”.
So next time you meet a Burmese friend in the streets of Yangon, ask “where are you going?” instead. And remember, don’t ask this question to a stranger. This is only for friends.