Thursday, January 21, 2010

Khaungdine Market

The closest village to Nyaung Shwe on Inle Lake is Khaungdine. It's in the north-west corner of the lake. While I did not explore the village itself, I did get the opportunity to visit during market day.

The dock is located beside the village monastery, some distance from the market. This means anyone arrive by water has to haul their goods by hand. These two women struggled with baskets second only to those found hanging from hot air balloons. Fortunately, they were filled with rice cakes and much lighter than they looked.

The market is on a bit of a slope. The market area consists of a number of metal-roofed concrete pavilions. It was obvious that this is a long established market. Presumably the regular vendors set up shop in their usual spot, but plenty of merchants lay out their goods on whatever space is free. Vegitables farmers camped out on the top of the slope, fish mongers lay out their catch between pavilions and lining the road at the bottom of the hill were a number of villagers with rolled up woven floor mats. I dearly wish I could have purchased some, they have a delightful texture.

Khaungdine had more fish than any other market I'd seen. Strings of small fish are laid out on plastic or banana leaves waiting for buyers.

The market certainly gets plenty of tourists - there were a number of tables set up with various tourist trinkets - so I didn't attract much attention. This enabled me to sneak around and get candid shots. Most people were oblivious of getting their photo taken, but I got caught plenty of times. Fortunately, getting photographed is seen as a good thing by the natives.

This market had the most diverse looking people of any I'd seen on the lake. Not that I can tell the difference between the various tribes, but in terms of characters, Khaungdine had them all, from young to old.

After browsing and shooting, I decided to give in to the pressure of the souvenir vendors "No buy, OK, just looking!" I found a distinctive necklace made up of five silver coins. I later learned that the coins were not Burmese, but Indian, and bore the effigy of George VI.

Before returning to the boat, I visited the monastery. It was typically quiet, but I soon discovered that one of the local families had arrived to have a picnic with one of the young monks; presumably a sibling. They sat on the floor and shared food brought in metal cylinders. Meanwhile, the other monks went about their studies.

See lots more photos here.

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