A Sunday morning walk in Rangoon on 4 September 2011

6 Sep

A Sunday morning walk in Rangoon on 4 September 2011

by Daniel Opacki

When I lived downtown in Rangoon, or Yangon if you prefer, I arose early on weekends a few times a month and took long meandering walks. I’ve often said that Burma is full of surprises each and every day and 4 September 2011 was no different. There was something special about how bright the colors at market were and the bright sun, blue sky and shady clouds invigorated me to keep walking Gumpishly for miles until I got tired. It was, and I can’t think of any better way to say it, as the cliche goes, a beautiful day.

I really only went to get some veggies at the street market on 24th street (I think it’s 24th) between Annuyratha and Maha Bandoola. This market was where local produce and other things were sold. 
Locally grown Myanmar produce tastes better than the tasteless gigantic produce that’s treated with growth accelerant imported from China. 
Delicious potatoes and onions, tasty garlic, banana shoots, all of it cheap and fresh. The prices of goods were so cheap I seldom felt overcharged for anything. I never negotiated costs. For some reason it never felt like the right thing to do. Most of the sellers worked on commissions. The pureness of the exchange and trying to use my Burmese with people always was always pleasurable. 
It was a busy, crowded street market early in the morning.
Some vendors took any space they could find. 
A nice looking assortment of treats. The pumpkin grown in Myanmar is especially sweet.
Another good display. 
If anyone knows what these are feel free to send a comment. I bought some for 50 Kyat, tried to peel one but it but it was very tight. Its taste was dry and bitter. 
 The variety of prawns was always confusing to me but I usually opted for the medium sized to larger ones. They cook down. Three thousand Kyat for a very large bag, those at the front left were best. 

A woman selling Thanaka wood, which is the paste females and children wear on the face. Users have a grinding stone and wear down the wood to a dust and mix it with water to make the paste.
Nice looking fish, freshly caught. 
Locally made sausages and jerk meat frisbees? I’ve had some of the sausages with pasta and seriously loved the flavors. At first, in Burma, I would never eat meats like this from the market but it’s all very, very good. 
Excellent fresh beef double ground made the most delicious burgher patties. Cooked through, on good sourdough or a good rye bread with no seasoning or condiments. Supreme!
This man selling his bright colored toys was happy to pose for a moment before going back to singing out to his potential customers. 
A quiet shady street for tri-shaw drivers to take a rest. With so many cars in Yangon it’s hard to believe tri-shaws will be as plentiful as they were before reforms.
Hundreds, probably thousands of small English schools like this one are everywhere downtown. 
Continuing the walkabout, near the Ahlone Township waterfront is where one can catch a ride across the river to townships soon to disappear to rising skylines of new developments in the crazy paced real estate boomtown called Yangon. 
Rain on the horizon. Looking on from the Ahlone waterfront. Behind, out of site are an endless line of warehouses where people can go to find some real steals on all kinds of goods.
 Barges, freighters, ferries, water taxi’s, covered docks, and a couple of men fishing…
…with bamboo poles and small bare hooks for the catch of the day. They told me they make fish paste with these little shiners. 
 A curve in the road, contrast and style gives these two buildings a dizzying definition in proportion. How much longer will they’ll stand is anyone’s guess. 

The beginning of Ahlone Township at Maha Bandoola Road. 
Such treachery; a surprising watery grave for the uninitiated walking around at night after having a few too many Myanmar Beers. It’s not untypical but becoming less so in Yangon. Where to does the water flow? 
Back to the waterfront of course where the black ooze of the city meets its odorous end before being washed down into the Bay of Bengal. 
Soaking wet from sweat, exhausted from the noon heat, I thanked this tree for its shade and rested a spell. I finally noticed the back and side image of a body swallowed into the tree – can you see it? I then took refuge in a nearby teashop for some noodles and grabbed a taxi home. 

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