Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Inle Lake, Myanmar- Part 2

Five Day market

Five Day market

Colorful head scarves at Five Day market

Traffic at Five Day market

Ngaphaechaun Monastery

Local handiworkers

Local handiworker

A local market serves most common shopping needs and is held daily but the location of the event rotates through five different sites around the lake area, thus each of them hosting an itinerant market every fifth day. When held on the lake itself, trading is conducted from small boats. This 'floating-market' event tends to emphasize tourist trade much more than the other four.

Hand-made goods for local use and trading are another source of commerce. Typical products include tools, carvings and other ornamental objects, textiles, and cheroots.

The Inle lake area is renowned for its weaving industry. The Shan-bags, used daily by many Burmese as a tote-bag, are produced in large quantities here. Silk-weaving is another very important industry, producing high-quality hand-woven silk fabrics of distinctive design called Inle longyi. A unique fabric from the lotus plant fibers is produced only at Inle lake and is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingahn (lotus robe).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Inle Lake, Myanmar- Farming and Fishing

Intha fisherman on Inle Lake

Intha fisherman on Inle Lake

House on stilts

Residential neighborhood

Farming mats with crops

Neighbors helping each other

Children playing on farming mats on Inle Lake

The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake's shores, and on the lake itself.  Most of the people are Intha and are devout Buddhists who live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.

Most transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats, or by somewhat larger boats fitted with single cylinder inboard diesel engines. Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern.

Farmers use floating mats woven of dried reeds and grass covered with mud to grow crops. They mats are as long as 196 feet, but very narrow so that they can be easily worked from a boat. The term gardener gets new meaning with some Inthas towing this land behind them and selling off slices to the needs of their customers.

More about this interesting area in Myanmar in the next post.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yangon, Myanmar- More Observations

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha with guide for scale

Fisherman and tourist boats

Fresh fish at open markets

Big market in Yangon

Fresh vegetables sold by lady with cosmetics

Street vendors

Heavy loads without automation
Yangon is a bustling city with so much to see and do. Chaukhtatgyi Paya or Reclining Buddha is a serene visiting spot. Almost all the people are Buddhists. Many people shop for food every day. Fresh vegetables and fish are available at open markets that farmer's families maintain. usually women are sitting around on the ground with their produce out in rows and rows. Then there are rows and rows of fish and other things as well. Everything is fresh, organic and not expensive.

The huge marketplace is filled with many stalls selling fabrics to make their traditional clothing. The “Longyi or Hta-mein” is one of the traditional dresses of Myanmar women. This skirt cloth or lower body wrapper was worn by women during the Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1855) as a wrap-around skirt, or sometimes as folded clothing material placed “tightly across the abdomen slightly left center of the waist”. In comparison, a Myanmar men wear the “Longyi or Pa Soe” around the hips; the men tie a knot in the front and women fold it and fix on the one side (right or left).

The woman pictured above who is selling the lettuce is wearing cosmetics which the Burmese find attractive. It is made from bark which is sold in an open market and boiled to make a paste which is put on the face to lighten the skin. It looks beige and is applied in circles on the cheeks, not blended in. It's a look! Beauty is definitely a cultural thing, right?

Watching the port and how things are done showed us how behind the times Myanmar really is. Unloading materials from a boat was all done by many men lining up and carrying heavy bags of materials. There is no automation available in any part of the process. Labor is cheap and the men work for a pittance.

Life is different here in many ways yet people are the same. We buy our food, looking for fresh, wholesome food. We wear cosmetics, trying to look our best. The details are refreshingly different.