Visiting food markets is one of my favorite things to do when I travel. There’s just something about the sweet scent of fresh fruit, colorful exotic spices piled in high pyramids, and a variety of vendors making an array of enticing street foods. It’s the hustle and buslte of everyday life around the world, of families gathering ingredients to make dinner and friends meeting up to indulge in some coffee and local gossip. Plus, it’s typically where I find some great souvenirs to bring home.
While visiting Yangon, I was so excited when the Concierge at the Shangri-La Resort recommend a local guide, Hsu Khin, to show me around the city and food markets. Turns out, she’s a foodie too, so we had a lot of fun spending the day together and exchanging stories.
Here’s a peek at what we found in the markets that day:
Sweet lychee fruit.
Rambutan piled high in pyramids or tied together in bright red fuzzy bouquets for easy snacking.
Pete and I call these “punk rock lychee” for their wild lime-green-tipped hair do.
These were a surprising find, necklaces and other jewelry made out of watermelon seeds. That’s a craft we could certainly use in Florida during the summer season!
These little paddies are sweet cakes made with rice and sesame, some wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. There were so many different varieties available.
My guide, Hsu, looks on and smiles as a woman prepares lunch. I wish I remembered what this yummy pyramid of goodness topped with coconut was. I shall have to find out the name.
Here’s a basket full of fresh lotus flowers and seeds. These give such a wonderful crunchy and refreshing texture to salads.
One of my favorite fruits, mangosteen. They sort of looks like little purple dinosaur eggs, and the sweet white fruit has a unique flavor that’s almost impossible to describe. To me, it almost tastes like cotton candy.
These small pieces of wood are actually used as a beauty product — Thanaka. It has an earthy scent similar to sandlewood and the dust that created when it’s rubbed on a rock makes a sort of creamy paste that local women apply to their face and arms as sunscreen. It’s supposed to be really good for your skin, too.
In addition to food, I couldn’t help but notice cute paper mache owls everywhere. It’s a symbol of luck and good fortune in Myanmar.
There were also colorful textiles for making clothes, hand-sewn purses, tribal jewelry, and even some hand woven dining room pieces such as table clothes and runners.
Toward the end of the market, there were even a few t-shirts displaying the Burmese alphabet. It’s such beautifully symmetrical and spherical lettering.
We also found a little surprise ‘snack’ that I wasn’t brave enough to try. I’ve had crickets before, but they were disguised as empanadas, deep fried and smothered in cheese. I just couldn’t do these.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found at a local market?
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