Mandalay Street View – Mandalay Market Tour

Mandalay, Myanmar

Myanmar First Stop—Mandalay

Newly arrived in Myanmar—first stop: Mandalay.

The Mandalay market street is neither dirt nor stone, but something in between.  Small rocks jut up from the packed dirt in an irregular array, forcing you to look down to assure you don’t trip, but just as everything else around you is shouting for attention, such that your head bobs up and down.

Women everywhere are wearing the white powder natural sunscreen that is the most essential element of Burmese fashion sense.  Both men and women are wearing sarongs in every conceivable color and pattern – men with knot in front and women demurely tucking their skirt on the side, which you will later begin to notice they periodically re-wrap as the day unwinds their tie.   As your trip in Myanmar continues, you’ll also begin to notice that there is a rhyme and reason to the bold white powder face sunscreen also--- especially in the way young children get button nose circles reminding of cat costumes at Halloween.

Motorbikes come at you in all directions, and not in any predictable swarm, at first.  Then you begin to figure that you cross streets when it’s just a motorbike throng approaching from one direction, not two, and stick to what would be a sidewalk, if there weren’t parked motorbikes and street vendors blocking paths if cars are coming in both directions and seem about to collide.

Mandalay, Myanmar
Mosque near the market
Mandalay Myanmar
Sikh men gather in front of the Sikh temple that serves the hundred or so Sikh families that live in Mandalay
Mandalay Myanmar
A gopuram, a Hindu structure, emerges high over the street, a few blocks from the market center, announcing the presence of the large Indian community in the city
Mandalay Myanmar
A Buddhist nun and her friend

Commerce Happens

Commerce happens—everywhere---bartering, beckoning, and bustling to mix curries and sweets and other delicacies while swatting away the flies.

Stop for lunch and you find that not only is the curry taste of Burmese food is a welcome break from the hot, hot, hot of Thai food, but also that you had ordered twice as much as you thought you did, with so many side dishes being part of the deal.

When you get to the phone store for a new Myanmar SIM card and find that there too you have bought twice as many minutes as you had thought you did, you begin to sense a pattern.

Mandalay Myanmar
One of the most enticing restaurants for dinner served Indian food
Mandalay Myanmar
Our meal was sumptuous and very inexpensive
Mandalay Myanmar
Another part of the chappati mass production outside the restaurant, where all the cooking happens.
Mandalay Myanmar
Outside the restaurant a crew of women mass produce chappati
Mandalay, Myanmar
Or, this charming young boy with perfect self-taught English sells Indian treats on the street
Mandalay Myanmar
You see betel nut spit out on trees here or there in the market area.
Mandalay Myanmar
As day ends in the market, men gather on the street to play games.
Mandalay Myanmar
Meanwhile, their industrious wives make jewelry to help earn money.

Recommended First Stop on Mandalay Tour

Here, there, everywhere though—what is most predictable is the ready smile and often the feeling that you are a rock star because there has to be some reason why everyone is staring.

There are quieter roads in Mandalay —many in fact.  But our tip is to jump right into the market scene knowing that it feels like you have just imbibed a barrel of Red Bull.   

 

Mandalay Myanmar
Two young monks smiling warmly at us. Many families with limited resources send their young children to Buddhist monasteries to house, feed and school them in Buddhist doctrine.

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