What's a bikini? Meet the girls of Myanmar

The beaches of Phuket are always loaded with foreign beauties, but a rare breed was sighted over the weekend when the 20 finalists in the Miss Universe Myanmar pageant arrived for "training".

Presumably these girls have not had a great deal of experience with swimsuits and required guidance ahead of the big show in Yangon on July 26.

Phuket was the obvious choice because Soe Yu Wai, the pageant's licensee, who publishes various fashion and business magazines, recruited Thai TV show host Nawat Itsaragrisil to organise the event. He's the founder of Miss Grand Thailand International, and reckons the scenes shot in Phuket will pop some Myanmar eyeballs when the show is broadcast.

As tourists and other gawkers noted, the Myanmar ladies weren't exactly pushing the limits of decency in their swimwear. With the Thai brand BSC again handling the design, the bathing suits were deliberately conservative so as not to offend the authorities back home. The Thai social media showed uncharacteristic respect, with many people commenting that the swimsuits reflect the charm of Myanmar women. The girls themselves seemed naturally beautiful, it was generally agreed (no plastic surgery or Western influences!) - and diverse in their traits, "unlike the South Korean beauty contestants who all look exactly the same", as someone put it.

Nawat knows what they're talking about and vows to promote the show internationally. He plans to send the winner someplace for a 10-day grooming course before she goes for the world title in Manila later this year. Her travelling companions will be the five finalists from Nawat's Miss Grand Thailand competition.