China: Yunnan: #16 More exploring in Jianshui

Early morning on our final day in Jianshui and, quite by accident, we walked into an area in the old town that is undergoing restoration… a big make over.

DSC01283 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01283 © DY of jtdytravels

Billboards explained what was being attempted.  It was good to have Kenzo to translate!

DSC01284 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01284 © DY of jtdytravels

A computer generated overview of the whole area was on show. It appeared to be quite an ambitious project but one that will make Jianshui an even more interesting place to visit.

DSC01275 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01275 © DY of jtdytravels

The most imposing building in the complex is the Chongwen Pagoda, also known as the Wenchang or Wenfeng Pagoda. The thirteen story brick structure was built in the 13th Century during the Yuan Dynasty.  It has been repaired a number of times since, including 1555 and between 1654 and 1655.  

DSC01280 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01280 © DY of jtdytravels

A nearby two-storied building in dire need of some TLC… and a lot of hard work.

DSC01279 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01279 © DY of jtdytravels

The other side of the same building.  New bricks ready for the work of restoration.

DSC01286 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01286 © DY of jtdytravels

We walked on, soaking up the atmosphere. This was the colourful entrance to a plastic flower and plant shop. One of my great hates in life; plastic flowers… but they were colourful.

DSC01287 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01287 © DY of jtdytravels

Goods were being carried to a market in the traditional way.

DSC01293 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01293 © DY of jtdytravels

You could buy almost anything you could possibly want.  Anybody for some geese?

DSC01294 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01294 © DY of jtdytravels

 …or maybe a sad looking tortoise. This one no doubt on its way to a soup pot.

DSC01299 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01299 © DY of jtdytravels

Frogs for dinner? You don’t find these on our supermarket shelves.

That’s what I love about markets… no shelves filled with cans and boxes of ‘food’.

DSC01297 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01297 © DY of jtdytravels

Moon Cakes looked somewhat more palatable. It was coming up time for the big Moon Festival in China so there were lots of feverish activity taking place in this bakery.

DSC01298 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01298 © DY of jtdytravels

Fresh fruit looked really good… Plump bunches of grapes and pears.

DSC01300 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01300 © DY of jtdytravels

Various grades of sunflower seeds, peanuts and lentils.

DSC01302 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01302 © DY of jtdytravels

Various grades of rice wine… a necessary ingredient in much Chinese cooking.

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 7.42.18 PM

The pork buns were being freshly made and looked very good.

DSC01301 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01301 © DY of jtdytravels

A happy group of smokers!

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 7.43.01 PM

An interesting form of transport for people and goods coming into the market.

We began to think about getting lunch before we had to catch the train back to Kunming. Kenzo ducked down a small non-descript sort of lane.  I followed, but I’d never have ventured into this lane without Kenzo leading the way.  We had to literally duck down to pass through a low door way and into a tiny courtyard.  Inside there was a middle aged lady sitting on the lowest of stools trimming a green leafy vegetable. And so we stayed there for lunch… a good choice.

DSC01304 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01304 © DY of jtdytravels

Delicious stir fried, fresh leafy greens…

DSC01305 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01305 © DY of jtdytravels

… a slow-cooked chicken dish…

DSC01306 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01306 © DY of jtdytravels

… and at last, some crispy skinned, succulent duck. Head and all!

‘Twas a very good meal to last us for the journey back to Kunming by train.

More from Kunming anon.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.dymusings.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

China: Yunnan: #10 More Exploring in Jianshui

So what else did we find as we explored the old part of Jianshui a little more? Let’s see.

 

DSC01007 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01007 © DY of jtdytravels

This was the street scape opposite the gate to the Zhu Gardens.

DSC01006 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01006 © DY of jtdytravels

The pomegranate seller made a wonderful still life photo. I wonder how many hours she just stood their hoping for someone to buy her fruit as they emerged from the gardens. It was getting late in the day and at least one basket was empty so maybe it had been worth her while.

DSC01011 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01011 © DY of jtdytravels

There were still a few people out and about along the shopping street.

DSC01009 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01009 © DY of jtdytravels

A china shop in China!

DSC01012 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01012 © DY of jtdytravels

Glazed and unglazed storage jars.

DSC01013 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01013 © DY of jtdytravels

The entrance to a ‘Foreign Nationals Hotel’.

DSC01032 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01032 © DY of jtdytravels

A lot of thought goes into these manholes that incorporate a story.

DSC01035 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01035 © DY of jtdytravels

Another decorated man hole.

DSC01042 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01042 © DY of jtdytravels

A different sort of decoration… a web woven of electric cables!

DSC01030 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01030 © DY of jtdytravels

A shop selling woks, steamers, brooms, hats and hardware items.

More electric cables decorate the roof… and they aren’t Christmas lights!

DSC01033 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01033 © DY of jtdytravels

A REAL hardware shop

DSC01034 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01034 © DY of jtdytravels

A larger house with a courtyard.

DSC01044 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01044 © DY of jtdytravels

The old and the new, side by side.

DSC01046 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01046 © DY of jtdytravels

Different strengths of rice wine are sold from these jars.

DSC01048 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01048 © DY of jtdytravels

Street fruit market

DSC01052 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01052 © DY of jtdytravels

Vegetable market…. bring your own shop on the back of a bike!

DSC01053 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01053 © DY of jtdytravels

 

 

 

Delicious looking mushrooms

DSC01054 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01054 © DY of jtdytravels

A wider variety of mushrooms… all look delicious… pity we can’t do any cooking.

DSC01049 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01049 © DY of jtdytravels

Those mushrooms would taste really good with these cooked ‘chooks’.

DSC01061 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01061 © DY of jtdytravels

Or maybe these succulent crispy ducks. Yum!

DSC01050 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01050 © DY of jtdytravels

Could add some tofu as well.

DSC01051 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01051 © DY of jtdytravels

Might rethink the tofu… not sure about smokers blowing smoke over the food

DSC01057 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01057 © DY of jtdytravels

Thoughtful market seller

DSC01059 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01059 © DY of jtdytravels

These dried chrysanthemum flowers are used to make chrysanthemum tea (pinyin).  The flowers are steeped in hot water 90-950C, (194-2030F).  Chrysanthemum tea is said to have many beneficial health properties.  In China it is used to recover from a sore throat, influenza and acne.  The flowers are also used as a compress to alleviate circulatory disorders such as varicose veins.

DSC01060 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01060 © DY of jtdytravels

A potential buyer of the tea.

Then after our interesting exploration around the streets it was time for dinner. We found a cafe with a balcony and watched the city quieten down while we ate a delicious dinner.

DSC01070 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01070 © DY of jtdytravels

The East Gate illuminated at night.

A wonderful sight at the end of a very special day in Jianshui.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.dymusings.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

.

 

India : Kolkata # 2 Early Morning in the Market

The markets in Indian cities are the place to go to have a real sensory experience of life in India… the constant movement of humanity, the life, the chaos, the sounds, the colour and the smells.  Even after many years of visiting the sub-continent, I never get tired of it.

P1000043  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000043 © DY of jtdytravels

As this was my friend Trevor’s first visit to India, I wanted him to experience all of this without the tour group and without the time keeping that is inevitable with group travel.  So we ventured out onto the street even before many of the stalls had opened for business.   We were able to experience the city ‘waking up’.

.

P1000044  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000044 © DY of jtdytravels

 It might have been early but there were already plenty of people about.

.

P1000049  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000049 © DY of jtdytravels

Some street stall holders hadn’t shown up yet, their wares still tied up in bundles.

.

P1000158  ©  Dy  of  jtdytravels

P1000158 © DY of jtdytravels

Some were still asleep on their makeshift beds atop their stalls.

.

P1000092  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000092 © DY of jtdytravels

Others had less comfortable places to rest.  The poverty we see in India is always confronting to those of us from countries like Australia, especially as we considered the comfortable and warm beds that we had just vacated at the hotel.

.

P1000173  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000173 © DY of jtdytravels

Many were still engaged in their morning ablutions.

.

P1000058  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000058 © DY of jtdytravels

This little guy had to wash the breakfast dishes.

.

P1000052  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000052 © DY of jtdytravels

A street cobbler was already busy giving damaged footwear a new lease of life.

.

P1000102  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1000102 © DY of jtdytravels

Unlike in many western countries, the Indian society doesn’t have a throwaway culture…

if it’s broke, fix it!

.

P1000104  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000104 © DY of jtdytravels

While others worked, this man begged… but he didn’t hassle anyone.

Note the ‘comfy’ seat!

.

P1000176  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000176 © DY of jtdytravels

We had indeed expected to be hassled in the market area and were prepared to beat a hasty retreat back to the security of the hotel.  But this was not the case.  Although there were stalls along both sides of the street, and I admit most don’t open until 10h00, we had no problems from beggars or stall holders.  We were, of course, approached and asked if we wanted this or that, but a polite “no” was enough on most occasions.

.

P1000178  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000178 © DY of jtdytravels

The vegies, at this stall at least, looked good and fresh.

.

P1000059  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000059 © DY of jtdytravels

It was time to turn back to the hotel and rejoin the group.  On the way we passed this cold water seller, filling up his trolley for the day with water from his jerry cans… a timely reminder to we westerners not to drink the water here unless it is bottled properly.  Our tummies are not prepared for the water that most Indians drink on a daily basis… and there’s nothing worse than ‘Delhi Belly’ to spoil travel.

The city had woken and was ready for the day which begins here in earnest about 10h00.  The street had been swept and now there were piles of rubbish in the gutter; some had been burnt, some were still smoking and there were some piles which were still waiting for a match to be put to them.

.

P1000157  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000157 © DY of jtdytravels

Our hotel was not far from the markets but it was a world away in ambience.

The Oberoi Grand Hotel is a grand old lady of times past.

.

P1000072  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000072 © DY of jtdytravels

I even found a delightful flower to photograph – however, I have no idea what it’s called.

.

P1000065  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000065 © DY of jtdytravels

As we entered , I noticed a small gecko showing off, walking along the ceiling.

.

P1000066  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000066 © DY of jtdytravels

Back in the foyer of the hotel we awaited our fellow travellers to begin a tour of the city.

What a contrast this was to the market area we’d just been exploring.

But that’s India.  It’s a land of contrasts.

More anon

David

All photographs Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travels can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

India : Kolkata # 1 Durga Puja Festival

Together with a small group of fellow Aussies, I flew to Kolkata on 8th October, 2013. Known as Calcutta during the British Raj,  Kolkata is the capital city of the Indian State of West Bengal.  It’s the third most populous city in India after Mumbai and Delhi.   Roughly 4.5 million people cram into the inner city area whilst the total population for the city and its suburbs is over 14 million, a number that is constantly growing.

P1000183  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000183 © DY of jtdytravels

It’s not surprising that the air was not clear over a city of this size.

.

P1000114  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000114 © DY of jtdytravels

For those who have never been to India, arrival in Kolkata can be quite a daunting process.  And on that day, the streets were even more chaotic than normal.  Our arrival coincided with the beginning of the Durga Puja – the most important festival of the year for the Hindus of Kolkata.  This festival, which has its origins in Medieval times, is celebrated particularly in the NE states of India.  It’s a five-day annual holiday which worships the Hindu goddess Durga who defeated the evil buffalo. In essence, it celebrates the victory of Good over Evil.

.

P1000115  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000115 © DY of jtdytravels

The usual population of fourteen million, swells by another 7 million people for this festival as people from many miles around arrive and depart each day to attend that day’s activities!    Welcome to the colour, the noise, the smell, the chaos of India!

.

P1000062  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000062 © DY of jtdytravels

The Festival is a good excuse, if you need one, to buy some new clothes…

.

P1000057  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000057 © DY of jtdytravels

… and maybe some shoes.

.

P1000084  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000084 © DY of jtdytravels

And if you’d rather not wear shoes, why not paint your feet!

.

P1000137  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000137 © DY of jtdytravels

There was a happy atmosphere and many of the locals were welcoming of tourists like us.

.

P1000135  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000135 © DY of jtdytravels

Statues of Durga are made on bamboo frames which are covered with mud taken from the Hoogley River that runs through the city.  Cloth that is impregnated with this mud is used to bind and hold the whole thing together.  It is then painted white before being lavishly painted in bright colours.  Originally, Durga was always depicted with her four children, and sometimes with a couple of other deities.  Nowadays, separate statues are prepared.  These statues can be a couple of metres high.

.

P1000151  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000151 © DY of jtdytravels

Many such statues are made in various places across the city.  They may even be embellished with tiny LED lights.  But all of these wonderful creations have a very short life.  For, at the end of the festival period, they are each carried to the banks of the Hoogley River where they are ceremoniously committed to the already muddy waters.  And the process of designing and preparing next year’s Durga statues begins again almost immediately… even bigger, ever better and, certainly, brighter.

.

.

P1000131  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000131 © DY of jtdytravels

So many devotees visit Kolkata to view the statues and light displays that special bamboo barricades are erected to control the crowds.

.

P1000134  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000134 © DY of jtdytravels

The footpaths are divided into male and female sections!  These barricades effectively double the width of the footpaths which, in turn, narrows the road by a car width. This just adds to the already very congested roads.

.

P1000146  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000146 © DY of jtdytravels

Today, modern trappings added to this ancient festival include a variety of displays using coloured LED lights.

.

P1000152  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000152 © DY of jtdytravels

With lights, music and dance being such an important part of the festival, most activity occurs at night when the crowds fill the streets from around 17h30.  From then on, they just wander around the sights until late.

.

P1000085  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000085 © DY of jtdytravels

We were certainly not the only ones to be fascinated by the evening’s events.   It’s said that the Durga Puja is the largest outdoor art festival in the world.   It’s a chaotic, happy festival.   What an introduction to !ncredible India.

More anon

David

all photographs Copyright ©  David Young  of  jtdytravels

more of our travel blogs can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.jtlifesgood.worpress.com

Burma – Myanmar # 15 Inle Lake; Community at Indein

While I had a quiet day at the Inle Princess Resort, David went off again in the long tail boats to explore more of Inle Lake and its villages. They left the resort quietly and sedately with the help of one of the Intha leg rowers.

But it was not long before the noisy motor was cranked into life and they sped off across the lake.

(P1020645  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020645 © DY of jtdytravels)

Their destination, on the other side of the lake, was the village of Indein.

On the way they went by a couple of other villages built partly on the land and partly over the water.

The sun shone and it was obviously washing day for this family.

(P1020650  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020650 © DY of jtdytravels)

This restaurant is clear evidence of the growth of tourism in the area. It also shows that those providing for the tourists are learning what is important to visitors.  The sign above the door reads:

“Sterilized tube well water is used for cleaning and cooking. No MSG is used”.

(P1020652  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020652 © DY of jtdytravels)

This family has one of those tube wells for their water.

They don’t need to wash themselves and their clothes in the river.

(P1020688  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020688 © DY of jtdytravels)

But the majority of people do not have tube wells

and many people still use the river to wash both their clothes and themselves.

(P1020653  ©  Dy of jtdytravels)

(P1020653 © Dy of jtdytravels)

One enterprising lady met the group’s boats with bamboo cone hats for sale.

They are light and certainly good for shade against the hot sun.

(P1020677  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020677 © DY of jtdytravels)

The boats were well equipped with blue umbrellas for shade.

To get to Indein, the boats travelled up a narrow river.

(P1020682  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020682 © DY of jtdytravels)

Finally the group arrived at their destination.

Judging by the various coloured chairs, a couple of groups had arrived in the village.

For now, the noisy motors were quiet while the visitors explored Indein.

(P1020810 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020810 © DY of jtdytravels)

A small market at the dockside sold such local necessities as longyis and shirts.

(P1020696  ©   DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020696 © DY of jtdytravels)

Another necessary item that almost every Burmese needs is a bamboo woven basket.

(P1020700  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020700 © DY of jtdytravels)

Inevitably,even at a fairly quiet tourist destination, there are stalls selling souvenirs –

like bangles and beads and necklaces.

(P1020711  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020711 © DY of jtdytravels)

While wandering through the stalls, David was surprised to see a small army of women walking towards him with hoes and bamboo baskets over their shoulders. These were women of the Pa-O ethnic group;  the second most numerous tribe in the region who mainly live in the hilly areas in and around Taunggyi.  These women wear dark plain coloured lungyis with long sleeveless shirts and cropped long-sleeved black jackets. They also wear distinctive brightly coloured turbans, often in a red check weave. They are mostly farmers who come down from their villages on market days to sell their produce.  But this was not a market day and these women had come into the village of Indein on a very different mission!

It soon became apparent that this was another incidence of community activity.  The Pa-Os are very religious, and although previously animist, most are now Buddhist.  They were coming together to clean up the approaches to Indein’s ancient Shwe Inn Tain Pagoda, the site our group had come to this village to see. (Photos of that in the next episode.)

Men were already hard at work repairing the road –  in what seemed a time consuming way. But lots of hands make light work!  There’s no earth moving machinery here; not even a wheelbarrow.  A bamboo cane ‘stretcher’ was used to carry the soil.  What was amazing was what a short distance the soil was moved!

(P1020729  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1020729 © DY of jtdytravels)

A group of boys stood in the shade waiting for their instructions to also begin work.

They wore the traditional Shan bags over their shoulders.

(P1020808  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020808 © DY of jtdytravels)

While Mums and Dads worked, little ones found simple games to play.

No fancy toys or video games here!

(P1020803  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1020803 © DY of jtdytravels)

The women who had just arrived waited for their instructions.

 It was a well ordered, planned community activity.

(P1020773  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1020773 © DY of jtdytravels)

Faces in the crowd always fascinate David.  This girl wears her traditional Pa-O ethnic check cloth headwear and her face is painted with a mixture made from the bark of the tamarind tree. This is not only traditionally for beauty but also to save the skin from the sun.

(P1020717  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1020717 © DY of jtdytravels)

And it wasn’t only the young ones who had come to help.

All ages were represented.

Down on the river there were other activities to watch.

Children are the same everywhere –

 give them some water and they’ll make their own fun!

When everyone in our group had had plenty of time to enjoy watching the village activities, they began the walk up to the ancient Shwe Inn Tain Pagoda (or Shwe Indein) Pagoda.  We’ll go there in the next episode.

Jennie Thomas

All photography in this episode ©  DY of jtdytravels

Burma / Myanmar #10; Pindaya to Heho

On the drive back through the countryside from Pindaya to Heho, we were able to stop a couple of times… not enough times to satisfy me, though. There was so much to see and experience. That’s one of the disadvantages of travelling on a group tour. There are indeed many pluses, especially when travelling for the first time in a country such as this one. But, because each day’s program is planned far ahead of time, there’s no time for the unexpected; no time to just stop and take it all in.  And, for us, the unexpected experiences and the time to just ‘be there’ is what makes travel so very rewarding. Never mind, we were able to make the most of the stops we did make in this fascinating Shan countryside.

Farm carts with umbrellas by the field (P1100215 © JT of jtdytravels)

We really enjoyed watching some farmers working together to plough a field.  And right there, with the carts by the side of the field, we saw the very type of umbrella we had just seen being made.

P1100204 © JT of jtdytravels)

The oxen that pulled the carts that brought the men to work, now pulled the ploughs. They are an integral part of each farming family’s life and are indispensable to all manner of farming activities.

P1100216 © JT of jtdytravels)

The oxen had a breather while the farmers tried to work out why we had stopped to photograph and watch them at their work. Had we not seen ploughing before?  They were as fascinated by us as we were by them, I’m sure, especially when Sunshine told them that we came from Australia and tried to explain just how far away that is from Burma. They were really quite bemused but were friendly and soon got back to work to demonstrate how the ploughs work.  A man and his oxen are a real team. And the men of each village are a team too, helping to plough each other’s fields. There’s real community spirit here.

I read in an account of village life, that this is not a formal, rostered way of doing things on the farms. One farmer mentions to others that he’ll be ploughing such and such a field on a particular day, and other farmers just turn up to help. That is reciprocated, of course. The wife, or some member of the farmer’s family, brings out some food for the men. It’s all very social and done in true community spirit.

Enjoying the interaction  (P1100223 © JT of jtdytravels)

Because of the heat, farm tasks start very early in the day. One of the village women had just delivered some food for the men. She really enjoyed watching the interaction between the farmers and the tourists. Her woven bamboo hat and basket are just two more ways the Burmese make use of this versatile plant.

Yellow flowered legume (P1020411 © DY of jtdytravels)

At this stop, David took the opportunity to wander along the roadside in search of flowers. This yellow flowering plant was very common in the area – we’re not sure of its name.

Hibiscus (P1020414 © DY of jtdytravels)

This is probably a native hibiscus. The growing of garden flowers is not a high priority here.

A stunning little blue pin cushion flower (P1020406 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had noticed several small flowering plants by the roadside as we drove along. It was frustrating not be able to stop and get a closer look. But at this stop, David was able to photograph this little beauty.

A member of the Solanum family of plants (P1020412 © DY of jtdytravels)

I love the delicate, crepe like petals of this very small Solanum flower. It’s a relative of the potato, tomato, eggplant and capsicum. There are over 1,500 species of solanum in the world!

One of the farmers (P1020418 © DY of jtdytravels)

We left the farmers to their work, and this young one still wondering about the encounter, and drove on.

Piled high! (P1100211 © JT of jtdytravels)

If you don’t have an ox cart or pony trap, and you want to get to market, you have to share the ride. This is a great ad for Toyota Hilux – crammed full of people inside, goods and people on top and even a couple hanging off the back board. The road is very bumpy and rutted but the ute seems to be handling it well.

A typical stretch of road. (P1100236 © JT of jtdytravels)

The most common form of transport was without doubt, the ox cart.

Another family off to market (P1100228 © JT of jtdytravels)

Motor bikes and tractor trailers are also fairly common forms of transport. The produce makes the seats! The turban scarf worn by these women is traditional for some ethnic groups. I’m not sure which group these women belong to. There are eight major ethnic groups in this complex country and 135 ethnic groups in total. Each has their own dialect, traditions and culture.

A long distance view of the countryside (P1100242 © JT of jtdytravels)

The views across the gently rolling hills changed all the time and made for an interesting journey.

A happy ‘buffalo girl’ (P1100249 © JT of jtdytravels)

We came across some children taking care of the gentle water buffalo. We all enjoyed that encounter.

A choko vine on a bamboo frame. (P1100256 © JT of jtdytravels)

Various types of fruiting vines are grown on bamboo frames like this.  We were told that this one was Choko, Sechium educe, a plant that belongs to the pumpkin family. When grown on frames, the fruit hangs down for easy harvesting. Grown here in a tropical climate, the plant is virtually evergreen, and provides good crops.

The harvest is done! Time for a rest. (P1100238 © JT of jtdytravels)

Harvest completed, carted in woven bamboo baskets from the field and packed into a pile by the side of the road, these men take a well earned rest. Their work will begin again when the truck arrives to pick up their produce to take to market.

Another roadside ‘pick -up’ spot.  (P1100260 © JT of jtdytravels)

Another group of farmers use ox carts to bring their produce to a pick up point.  Here it’s the oxen who are taking a well earned break while their owners check the harvest before it gets packed onto a truck.

P1020463 © DY of jtdytravels)

An unscheduled stop to change a flat tyre, allowed us to stretch our legs and get this photo of one of the local drinking places – rum or whisky. It also shows the typical construction of country buildings; woven bamboo walls and thatched roof. The small roofed platform out in front is the local petrol station with plastic bottles of fuel for the motor bikes and the ‘put put’ engines on the tractor trailers. The tree is the very common yellow flowering legume that David photographed earlier by the roadside.

Hollyhocks in a roadside garden  (P1020467 © DY of jtdytravels)

We knew that we getting closer to a town; one house had a small garden with a few flowering plants.

We were being watched! (P1020468 © DY of jtdytravels)

A coach with a group of tourists wandering around gave these small boys some entertainment. Not only were we fair skinned but we were old!  The average life expectancy for women is around 67 and for men it’s 61.   Some in our group were much older than that – and white haired – and rather large as well.

Town parking for tractor trailers (P1100281 © JT of jtdytravels)

These are the type of tractor trailers we had seen on our way to this town. They are very basic, not at all comfortable, but a much used form of transport in country areas.

A small town market (P1020278 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had arrived at a small market town. After a much needed loo stop at the back of a small restaurant (squat, of course) we had a little time to explore the small market that was set up on a long concrete platform beside the road. I wandered along just looking and not intending to buy anything when I made a mistake, right here at the jewellery and knick knack counter. My eye stopped for a brief moment on one particular necklace. Two seconds later, that necklace was around my neck and I had a smiling ‘new friend’. And there was a bracelet to match! I had to laugh – and I had to buy!

My market necklace (P1130094 © JT of jtdytravels)

I so enjoyed wearing that necklace and bracelet. It cost all of $8 and is simply traditional Burmese ‘silver’ circlets threaded with wool. There’s no catch – you just tie the wool into a knot.

P1130095 © JT of jtdytravels)

A closer look – and yes the silver is already rubbing off! They will now become part of our very special ‘memory souveneirs’ that we hang on our Christmas Tree. They help us to remember all the people we have met and the places we have experienced during our travels together in this wonderful world of ours.

The food section of the market (P1020280 © DY of jtdytravels)

Another part of the market is for packaged foods. It’s the supermarket of this small town. I had no idea what some of the packages contained but there was certainly a good variety.

Nuns accepting offerings from stall holders (P1130085 © JT of jtdytravels)

Twice a week the local nuns file past these market stalls, chanting blessings as they go. They walk in order of seniority. The stall holders present each of them with a gift of food. They take what they are given – no requests are permitted. With their food carefully placed on the trays on their heads, they walk back to their monastery where the food they have been given is sorted ready to be cooked over the next few days. Like Burmese monks, Nuns have only two meals a day. An early breakfast after prayers and  lunch that must be eaten before noon. After that, only water and juice is allowed until morning.

Packaged foods (P1020283 © DY of jtdytravels)

Dry foods are mainly packed into cellophane and clear plastic bags. There were very few ‘brand’ names on the packages at these stalls. They are all filled by hand from larger containers.

Sealing a plastic bag using candle heat  (P1130079 © JT of jtdytravels)

Just inside the restaurant area we were fascinated to watch three young ladies vacuum packaging food for the stalls.  In this case, the food was flat, dried circles of some mixture or other. We were told that it would be cooked before being eaten.  To begin with, several bags were prepared with eight or ten circles of the food carefully layered into each bag. Then, a bag at a time, the task of sealing began. The open side of the bag was moved slowly through the flame of a candle to melt the edge of the bag.

Sucking to form a vacuum pack (P1130074 © JT of jtdytravels)

One corner of the bag was left unsealed. This was then popped between the girl’s lips and she sucked the air out of the bag. It was vacuum sealed!  It’s just the way it’s done. No OH&S here. And no problems.

Sealing off the corner of the bag (P1130077 © JT of jtdytravels)

Once the air has gone, the open corner of the bag was quickly sealed in the candle flame. It was ready for sale and the next bag was begun. There was quite a lot of giggling from the girls who were shy and a bit bemused that their task was of so much interest to a couple of tourists. It was everyday work for them.

Transport options!  (P1020284 © DY of jtdytravels)

Back out on the road, our bus driver waited patiently. It was time to go again. He welcomed us into the air-conditioned comfort of his bus and handed us each a bottle of cold water. Luxury. At least we didn’t have to travel for hours on any of the other types of transport available in the town. And from here we drove to beautiful Inle Lake where we would spend a fascinating couple of days.

Jennie and David

Photography © JT and DY of jtdytravels