Friday, February 6, 2015

Burmese Days 12: Sensory Overload at Thiri Mingalar Market

If you like wholesale produce markets, they do not get much bigger than the Thiri Mingalar market in west Rangon, near the Hlaing River and west of Inya Lake and Yangon University. This is another place off the normal tourist route, but more and more foreigners are gradually showing up, and the local merchants seem delighted to have curious visitors. The market is huge and consists of three rows of parallel steel sheds (the aerial photograph is from ESRI® maps and data).
I never quite figured out the geography, but the first area my friends and I explored was the fruit area. Wow, nice produce, fresh from the farms.
Watermelons go flying. Strong guys to do this all day.
Bananas and plantains - more than I have ever seen in one place before.
Now for the good smelly stuff: the dried fish and shrimp. The shrimp are used as a flavoring agent in Burmese cuisine.
These tubs contain fermenting fish mash in the process of becoming fish sauce. Yum. Think of this when you buy a bottle of fish sauce in one of our sterile US supermarkets.
These carrots might be pretty good, as well.
If you are hungry, there is a big cafeteria on site. We were a bit dubious about the dish-washing facilities.
Betel nut chewing is a big business in Burma. The young ladies wrap betel leaf, areca nut, and slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) into a little package, which may also contain tobacco, cardamon, or other spice. Rural people and workers in certain industries, especially truck and bus drivers, chew the betel as a stimulant. It stains their teeth and lips red. When we lived in Rangoon in the 1950s, walls were stained red with spit-out betel juice up to a height of about 6 ft. Chewing betel has serious health effects, especially malignant tumors in the mouth area.
These are the delivery boys, who pedal amazingly heavy loads in bicycle sidecars. Selfie photos are the big thing now.
Some families tend small stores.
I cannot recall what these shredded white roots are, but they sell tons of it every day. And the guys check their phones whenever possible. 
The Thiri Mingalar market is an amazing tableau of colors, shapes, and people for a photographer. It seems safe, and there are other foreign visitors present. Highly recommended. Next time, I will take a film camera and try black and white. Wear boots or high shoes because there is a lot of squishy stuff underfoot.

Photographs taken with a Panasonic G3 camera with Olympus 9-18mm lens or a Fujifilm X-E1 camera, with most RAW files processed with PhotoNinja software.

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