Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Markets and Munchies in Myanmar: The Best (and worst!) of Yangon

Yangon, Burma
August 11-25, 2012

This trip to Burma, or Myanmar as it is also know, was something I was very much looking forward to. When I lived in Thailand I would have to always cross the border into Burma and come back to Thailand to renew my Thai visa. Although these visa runs were dreaded, a glimpse into Thailands mysterious neighbor to the west gripped my curiosity. In 2010, the National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was released after decades of house arrest. She has since encouraged responsible tourism, which means partaking in and promoting NON governmental tour operators, hotels/guesthouses, restaurants etc...  What a great time to explore this isolated country, however it was certainly not smooth sailing. That aside, exploring Burma was certainly an adventure.

One of my favorite things to do in any country is to explore the markets. One can only dream up the fabulous and colorful items that were on offer at Bogyoke Market in Yangon.

I met up with an old friend Jenny for this two week trip. It was so great to meet up with her after not seeing each other for 4 years. She is an incredible interior designer and is always coming up with creative and unique ways to decorating people's homes. These umbrellas are going to be used as lighting in a Hong Kong apartment.

Burma has a plethora of natural resources including semi-precious gems stones and valuable wood, as well as a rich culture for handicrafts.

China is situated to the north of Burma and as you can see the Chinese culture has staked out its space in the market as well.

There are also many antiques that can be found tucked away in little shops.

The above lock was one of many antique locks that were left over from the English, and is now having its second life in one of Jenny's apartments as a lock on a door.

The bottom is a photo of an old opium pipe.

I was very tempted to take this beautiful old antique home... Amazing to see how photography has changed through out the years!

Outside the streets are filled with vendors not only around the market but all over the city. They sell everyday items like food and flowers, as well as religious items for the Buddhist majority.

The teashops are an important part of the Burmese culture. They are indoors or outdoors with open tables and chairs. From tea and snacks and catching up on local gossip, to full meals and creating new business deals, the teashops are an incredible place for a sit of sweet tea and watch the world of Burma go by. 

The above men are sharing a laugh at the Bogyoke Market teashop while the man below is working in the kitchen and waiting for his next order.

The personal experience Jenny and I had was at first great. Above we found a few teashops that had some very interesting parts of animals curried with a more Indian flare. The next day we decided to go strictly Burmese and treated ourselves to a Burmese meal at a nicer restaurant... ironically the below "meal of death" was our last normal meal for nearly 2 weeks as we both got violently ill and in bed for 48 hours straight, followed by very touchy tummies for the rest of the trip. Extremely disappointing as food in exotic places like this get me very excited and I was not able to take any advantage of enjoying them. Goes to show street food is always the best, and cheapest!


  1. Great photos Heather, can't wait to see the rest of them.

  2. thanks for the tour, very happy to see+sorry to hear you got sick...