Wherever I travel I have to go to the local market, eitherÂ faraway in Southeast Asia or closer to home, a busy market full of fresh goods andÂ colorfulÂ vegetables, people announcing their products, haggling or picking the best tomato or piece of meat. Even if I don’t have my cameras all those sounds and smells are such a treat for the senses that just standing and enjoying is good enough.Â Despite having spent some time at Myanmar most of my market shots being taken only at two places,Â Yangon and Inle Lake, spending a few more days than usual and keeping a slow pace meant that I could capture several different flavors of Burmese markets.
Bogyoke Aung San MarketÂ is an old market built by the British (and stillÂ referred among the BurmeseÂ as Scott Market) in downtown Yangon, my first glimpse of it was while having a smoothie at the nearby Sakura Tower in my first morning at Myanmar. A lovely colonial building filled mostly clothes, drugstore goods and jewelry stands among the many forms of availableÂ souvenirs: shirts, wood, etc.. A great place for buying gifts, but just an average place for street photography as most of the activity is geared towards outsiders not locals, even if arriving early to catch the merchants preparing their and avoid the big groups of tourists, like we did.
I usually prefer food and fresh goods for one reason. Actually two reasons: fresh goods mean vibrant, colorful photos and tourists usually don’t buy them. An outsider doesn’t go to the market to buy fish or vegetables, at most an outsider buys fruit or a quick snack at a food stand. A fresh goods market is all about the locals and local trade, common people buying vegetables or fish, vendors don’t see you as aÂ potentialÂ customer but as another western wandering around, and that means I was ignored most of the time, except when I deliberately tried to draw someone’s attention. And that’s great!
If you mix all that with a night market, something so typical of Asia, at the sidewalk of one of Yangon’s busiest streets you have a winner!Â The sidewalks ofÂ Anawratha Road and surrounding streets look pretty much most every other street at downtown Yangon, which means plenty of subjects to photograph on its own, but waiting for sunset brings a horde of street vendors selling fresh fish, meat or vegetables and another horde of Yangon residents to buy the ingredients for that day’s dinner. This makes walking around almost impossible, despite having a large sidewalk, and most of the times you’re forced walk in the middle of the street, avoiding buses and other vehicles like trishaws. Like many other great places throughout this trip I came back to this place, more than once, eager to capture this frenzy whileÂ struggling with theÂ fluorescentÂ lights that within seconds can make your photo lookÂ awesomeÂ or ruin it…
Our second place of choice for markets was the beautiful Inle LakeÂ region with its rotating scheme where each morning a market is held at a different place around the lake. Each five days the market goes back to the same place and in the morning we arrived that place was Nyaung Shwe, our base for the next days. Having spend the night on aÂ thirteenÂ hour trip on a bus from Yangon meant nothing, we wouldn’t be there the next time market would come to town and after the breakfast the weren’t suppose to have (got to love Burmese hospitality) we went straight to the market, just a few blocks away. We could have some rest later that day…Â In the next days spent sometime following the the market schedule around the lake’s shore.
Markets around the lake remind me the rural feel of the markets of Northern Vietnam, with farmers of ethnicÂ minoritiesÂ coming down to small towns to sell their products, and even the rotating scheme is similar. Even so some feel less authentic than others, on one hand there’s the Taung Tho market, as told by our hotel owner as the best market to visit, held in a muddy environment right at the lake’s western shore and where you’ll even find livestock. But the on other there’s the floating market of Ywama, very photogenic with all the vendors selling goods inside the canoes by the lake, but almost every single one of them sells tourist souvenirs and in some cases the foreigners seem to outnumber the locals. I guess that’s the price of Ywama being one of the first of the Inle Lake villages to turn to tourism, but despite becoming the huge tourist trap it currently is you can always walk a bit further and find something interesting, like the red hanging robes photo of theÂ Monks postÂ that I shot there.
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO1100)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/4.5, 1/30 sec, ISO360)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/9, 1/50 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/7.1, 1/80 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/7.1, 1/200 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/7.1, 1/100 sec, ISO200)
NIKON D90 (85mm, f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO320)
NIKON D300S (24mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO200)
Stay tuned for more MyanmarÂ posts and browse all photos here!!