These Streets

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It’s amazing what you can achieve in just a day. I feel like I’m now pretty familiar with down-town Yangon. I’ve spent the majority of the day navigating through markets which are along all of the major streets. At first I was a little hesitant but today I didn’t hold back on the street food. The trouble is, I know the vendors don’t really want to be accosted by somebody who doesn’t speak a word of their language – My tactic was brandishing some money at them and pointing!

Yangon street market

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The birds/dogs/assorted vermin were having an absolute field day.

The birds/dogs/assorted vermin were having an absolute field day.

I tried lots of little bits and bobs – trying not too think too much about what was in them! There are loads of little fried things and pastries. There’s also the most ridiculous array of things I’ve never heard of before in my life, for example pomelos and custard apples.

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Note the dragon fruit in the foreground here.

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These bizarre looking things are called ‘rambutans’ – beneath the anemone-like outer shell is a sweet white flesh very similar to a lychee.

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The large knobbly brown thing at the back is called a ‘durian fruit’ – very odd.

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Don’t be fooled by their egg-like appearance – the ‘yoke’ is actually just grease! They’re sort of fried batter things with seeds and chickpeas – actually pretty tasty despite the fact that they’re dripping in oil.

They eat their meals at really strange times here: Breakfast is 7:00-7:30, Lunch 11:30-12:00 and Supper 5:30-6:30. I sat down for my 12 o’ clock lunch at a tiny low table like you’d get in a toddler’s play area, as is the norm, and let the women cooking provide me with whatever they had on offer. It seemed to be a mix of two different kinds of noodle, rice, potato, some sort of cucumberesque veg cut like noodles itself, a stange sort of cheese,  fried shredded fish/shrimp, fried tofu and chilli. The brothy soup accompanied like yesterday– some sort of fishy/mushroom one this time…not my favourite but certainly interesting.

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I headed down in the direction of Sula Pagoda – the second biggest in the city. There are eight shrines around each pagoda which represent the ‘eight’ days of the week. This is as Wednesday is split in two, according to their traditional astronomy.  In Myanmar, the day that you were born on is one of your most relevant defining features, believe it or not. In fact, in place of family/surnames they use the day you were born (or letters associated with this day). The English equivalent, for example, could result in my name being Sophie Friday.  Each day is given it’s own shrine to worship with it’s own animal. The 2nd of October 1992 was a Friday so my animal is the guinea pig and my shrine is at the north side of the Pagoda.

What’s yours? You can find out here http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/interactive/interactivetests/weekday.php – (Not so sure about that nursey rhyme – seems entirely unfair on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. However this Myanmar system also seems pretty unfair – needless to say on the mouse and guinea pig!) Use the table to work out your animal and planet!

Day Sign Direction Planet
Monday Tiger East Moon
Tuesday Lion South East Mars
Wednesday-morning Elephant without a tusk South Mercuty
Wednesday-afternoon Elephant with a tusk North West yahu
Thursday Mouse West Jupiter
Friday Guinea Pig North Venus
Saturday Dragon South West Satum
Sunday Ga-Lone (Mythical bird) North East Sun

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Here are two other people born on Friday – pouring water as a sign of respect and cleansing on the Buddha and the guinea pig.

The markets seem even more exciting at night. The downside, however, are the large rats running all over the place. People must have wondered why I kept jumping into the air spasmodically.

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At night the city’s Pagodas light up like giant beacons.

Yangon night market

Someone was frying lobsters here!

Sula pagoda at night

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