To market

To market

The plan this morning was to go off to the local market at Nyaung u, where Ananda is berthed, so immediately after breakfast, we gathered in the lobby and went off with Aung to see what’s what.


One of the challenges is the continual requests to buy postcards, lacquer wares and other small things, often from children.  Education here isn’t compulsory and there is a cost – books and uniforms are needed but not provided, so many children don’t go to school and in rural areas in particular, rates of illiteracy are high.  Now, if I thought for one moment that buying a set of postcards from a child would enable her to go to school, then I’d be there but sadly, it’s not that simple, is it?


Our arrival at the market car park brought a rush of postcard sellers to the door then and it took a while for us to make our way into the market.  This area appears to be a centre for pottery and there was a fine selection of all kinds of functional pots outside this workshop, just across from the market proper.


Aung explained that most women shop daily.  Few families have fridges and prefer to buy their food in small quantities, fresh from the market.  So, it was a bustling place this morning and the things on offer looked appetising and fresh – to begin with, at least.


There were more children there than usual too, because the school holidays have just begun.  This boy and his Mum were comparing notes on their phones – I hope they get a better signal than we do right now!


Perhaps you’ve noticed in my photos, that the women of Myanmar wear a kind of yellow chalky substance on their face?  Worn instead of make up, it’s a skin care product, sunblock and decorative make up all in one and almost all women and many children wear it in some form or other.  This woman is selling it in its traditional form – a small log from which the bark can be ground to a paste with a few drops of water.  Ready mixed varieties are available too but I understand that few women her would consider using anything but the original freshly ground form.


Other traditional items were on sale here such as these woven balls, used for the traditional game of what sounds like “keepy uppy”.  To play, groups of people stand in a circle and try to keep the ball moving for as long as possible but the balls themselves are rather decorative, aren’t they?


Onions seem to be in season, for every second vegetable stall was full of them!


A little further on was a stall full of traditional puppets, including to grey “Kings”, wearing that particular style of outfit we had seen in the museum and  I tried to describe yesterday.


Around now, we realised that it was no accident that there was an empty can on the basket of rather attractively coloured beans here.  Measurements are simple and the milk can is a pretty standard measure of volume for dry goods such as this.


This lady wasn’t the only one using batteries as a weight measure, too.  People as so inventive, aren’t they?


I loved the way the betel nut leaves are arranged with such precision.


A little further on, there was a cafe, where the chef had an air of insouciance, wouldn’t you say?


These young men were catching up on the latest news over a cup of something and a snack.


But Aung had already moved along and was by the rice stall, explaining about the different types of rice and how it’s sold.  Eight small milk cans make up one of the larger measures, which costs $1 and will feed a family of four lunch and dinner for two days.


Walking quickly through the market was good to avoid the persistent sellers, but not so good for making observations!


Still, we had time to see the way of life and the woman making and selling green papaya salad here.


The beans this chap was moving were “owl beans” but we had no idea of what they’re known as elsewhere – maybe you know?


At this point, we turned right and into the rather fragrant part of the market: The fish and meat department.


I’m generally ok with this kind of thing but even so, I didn’t really want to linger.  These two young women were preparing the fish, taking off scales the size of pennies.


Elsewhere, people sat chatting, offering a cheery “mingalabar” as we passed and happy for us to take photographs.


Some posed beautifully without even knowing it.


Turning around to return through the meat and fish, we were making our way back to the car park.


No eggs or washing powder needed today.


Leaving one small boy waiting for a playmate, we were off once again, for it was getting near lunchtime.


On the way back, though, Aung had another place he thought would interest us.  Can you guess what’s made here?


The core material is bamboo.


This family make fans, specifically for advertising or for special occasions such as weddings, naming ceremonies and suchlike.


They sell for 500 for $10.  A lot of work for little gain, I’d say.


But the women and girls were happily chatting over their work and were very quick at their job!  This young girl could apply the paper “binding” in no time, achieving a really neat finish.  I guess she gets a lot of practice.


We were each given a fan as a gift, and Aung explained what occasion we were celebrating.


Mine was a souvenir from a wedding


A most attractive young couple, wouldn’t you say?


I always love visiting such places, seeing how people live their lives and especially love the colour and atmosphere. This had been no exception, but it was good to see the Ananda waiting for us, with a cool towel and a lovely “Welcome back” at the top of the gangplank! 

(here should be a photo of Ananda, and not the local ferry in the picture above!  Guess who didn’t remember to take that photo?!)

Along the Ayerarwady

Along the Ayerarwady