Visiting the Market Place in Nyaung-U
We were excited because we were going to a local market. That is where you see the local people and can interact with them and sometimes get amazing photos. I was disappointed that we hadn’t spent some time at the marketplace on other excursions. Food is so much a part of any culture and I love getting the opportunity to photograph this part of the culture.
We spent a short time on the outside of the market. Just never enough time to slow down and consider the best shots. As I said before, we always seem to be on a time schedule especially where I want to spend more time.
When we went into the market, it was so crowded that it was hard to take photos and keep up with the group. I hung out at the end of the line and as I walked by this one woman, she threw something into my bag and insisted it was free. It was some of that cosmetic paste. She started rubbing it on my face. Then she began to harass me trying to get me to buy what she was selling. It was very hard to get any photos and finally, I had to yell for Thu Thu to wait for me. I explained the situation with the seller who was following me and Thu Thu told her to leave me alone and go away. After that, I learned not to look or talk to any of the people who walked up to me trying to sell things.
I wondered about the saffron (orange) robes that the monks in the marketplace were wearing. I learned that the saffron is the color originally worn by Theravada Buddhist monks and is the color of choice. The saffron (orange) robe is the symbol of Light, Cleanliness, Purity, Peace, and Divinity.
The Burmese Tea House
On the way to the pagoda, we passed a tea house. It was one of many I had seen in almost every city and town. The tea house is a Burmese tradition and a way of life. If you want to meet the local people, go to a tea house. It’s a place of business and politics and serves as the social gathering place of Burmese people. It is also a place to sample “lah phet yay”, or Myanmar tea. It is typically served sweetened with condensed milk but there are many variations. The teahouses are the busiest in the morning where samosas and breadsticks are deep fried and mohinga soup (fish soup with noodles) are served. There is also a deep-fried flattened bun stuffed with shreds of coconut and sugar that is supposed to be delicious. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience a local tea house but we saw several up close and passed quite a few on our excursions.
Our next stop was the great golden Shwezigon Pagoda. It holds a special place among Burmese pagodas for several reasons: it was the first major monument built in the Burmese style (as distinct from the Mon style) following the country’s conversion to Theravada Buddhism, and the first pagoda to have nat (spirit) images allowed within the precinct.
Reading about Myanmar in advance, one thing I learned was the correct way to dress when you are entering the temples. I bought some new clothes but always with the idea of conforming to the pagoda rules. I was rather surprised that most of the men on the boat wore shorts every place and even in the temples. Every itinerary sheet we received (one every day) had the dress code written on it. When we first arrived, Shawn was so worried about what to wear for dinner because he only brought two pairs of pants. There was an actual dress code for the meals but once again no rules were followed – even sports gear was worn by some of the passengers for the meals. After we checked out what the other guests were wearing, Shawn didn’t have any more worries about what to wear to lunch or dinner. For myself, I think it is a matter of respect to follow a culture’s dress code, especially related to their religious beliefs.
It was 10:30 am when we returned to the boat and we sailed away to Yandabo where we stayed overnight and then sailed the next morning to Sagaing.
Washing Clothes in the Irrawaddy
As we pulled away from the mooring, I took these photos of morning activities on the Irrawaddy River.
We had a very busy afternoon and evening to look forward to in Sagaing. Check out our last excursions from the Sanctuary Ananda.