Thursday 3 April 2014

Burma: knobbly carrots, delicious grubs and special juice

Flower lady - Mani Sithu market, Nyaung-U, BaganThanaka wood - Mani Sithu market, Nyaung-U, BaganMani Sithu market in Nyaung-U was hot, humid and dark, except for the occasional gap where the sun streaked the roofing bleaching out the background of every photograph.

Mrs M, who is developing tree-hugging hippy tendencies for weird vegetables, had a wonderful time fondling the variety of potatoes, onions, green leafy things, dark yellow cauliflowers, knobbly carrots, tamarind products, spices and chillis, tiny round aubergines, tomatoes and other unrecognisable products. Foods sampled included something that looked like chocolate, soft popcorn, sweet pretzels made from ground lentils and a selection from a pile of salty grubs (oh yes). Despite many offers, Mrs M was not keen on wearing large patches of Thanaka paste on her cheeks.

Mani Sithu market, Nyaung-U, BaganThe women in the souvenir sections were unbelievably pushy. Being relatively new at this tourism game, they probably didn't realise that men do not buy souvenirs. They would have sold considerably more if their prices had been slightly lower than laughable, perhaps a reflection of the customer base from the Aureum Palace hotel. It was often hard to determine if the numbers they were tapping into their calculators were US dollars or local Kyat. Nonetheless, after a bout of intensive haggling, Mrs M purchased a set of three cast metal frogs (that we didn’t need) and some chillis and spices (that we did).

After the market, we drove to the Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware workshop in Myinkabar village. The owner provided a short tour during which we watched a group of girls scratching layers into base coats of lacquer that were to be filled with muted shades of red, green and blue paints ground from local rocks. Once cured in humid cellars, the process is repeated, often for several months. We came away with a lacquered box and a photo of the owner in the doorway of his shop.

Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware workshop - Myinkabar village, BaganLunch was taken at an unspecified location due to the fact that the request for a beer was met with much furtive glances as a member of staff popped to another shop to bring back a bottle wrapped in a black plastic bag. The ‘special juice’ accompanied several spring rolls and an aubergine salad for Mrs M.

In the evening we dined at a restaurant which can be named - the Black Bamboo on Thi Ri Pyitsaya Street in Nyaung-U. It is so nice to have meals that feature the humble potato which was half of the ingredients of my Myanmar curry served with rice and a bit of carrot to appease those that might think that spuds are not vegetables. Meanwhile Mrs M savoured a chicken curry followed by a plate of superb deep-fried bananas and ice-cream. Yum.

No comments: