Myanmar, Day Five, Nyaung shwe
We started day five slowly with one of our party feeling under the weather. Breakfast in a ray of sunlight in the hotel restaurant was a toasty affair after another very cool evening, the fleeces we bought have certainly already earned their keep.
Breakfast eaten we headed up the dusty street past little stores and restaurants stopping to look at things of interest until we reached the market. Nyaung Shwe has the feel of the wild west about it, like an outpost in the middle of nowhere, weathered men sit astride their battered motorbikes chewing betel nuts before spitting their now red saliva onto the dirt floor. Dogs wander freely and their are puppies a plenty, a vet offering free spaying and neutering services would have a busy time. Occasional huge plush tourist coaches trundle along out of place in their newness. The most incredible motorised wagons cart building supplies from store to site. Their is a lot of building work going on which might explain why everything inside and out is coated in a layer of dust. In the open fronted convenience and tourist shops the dust lies thickly on the items for sales. Everyone tourist and local alike is bundled in warm weather wear, woolly hats and fleeces until the warm midday sun arrives and the layers are briefly shed, at least by the tourists.
We all love a local market and thoroughly enjoyed walking around the narrow lanes of tourist items of carvings and silver bartering to get the best possible deal. After a few lanes of goodies the market changed to stalls overflowing with local produce, clothing and food vendors. The whole market is covered by a series of tarpaulins to keep off the sun and we spent our time dodging and ducking to avoid the guide ropes and low ceilings which the locals significantly shorter walked beneath freely.
We bought a bag of crispy fried/roasted chick peas, peanuts and broad beans, tried some amazing snacks, sweet filled spring rolls and were given a frankly disgusting looking sausage shaped thing to try which was sweet and sticky and unbelievably delicious and we bought two immediately! As we paid, the vendor gave us a warm and crumbly samosa filled with fragrant tastiness, we’ll be back for more of those tomorrow.
Next up was the Cultural Museum a few minutes walk away from the market set in a beautiful old building which was the ancestral home of the regions royal family. Our shoes and bags left in lockers at the reception we made our way around the half empty rooms with filthy floors and half empty display cabinets, our feet getting filthier with each step. I do object to being asked to take my shoes off when it’s not a temple and the floor inside is as dirty as outside but there we go. The highlight was a huge wicker Buddha after which we quickly left and headed to lunch at the Golden Kite.
After a lovely lunch, including feeding the local dog under the table I reached for my bag that had been hanging on the back of my chair and immediately noticed the outer pocket was unzipped and money was visible. I had been keeping small notes in this easily accessible pocket to hand to monks, anyone we took photos of and anyone begging. A quick tally showed money was clearly missing, I had had a note that the museum would not accept for the entrance fee as it was slightly torn that was now not there and the likely culprits the westerners who had been seated at the table behind us when we entered the restaurant. Sad to steal at all, even sadder money intended for others, I can’t help thinking that in Buddhist Myanmar their karma will surely balance things out.
With another one of us going down with stomach cramps we cancelled are afternoon plans of visiting the local winery, shifting them to tomorrow in favour of reading and relaxing at the hotel. Ma and I went for a wander finding a lovely temple and coming home laden with treats, yes I am pretty sure we have a shopping addiction but we are helping the local economy in the process so not such a terrible thing to have.
After a nap and some reading we headed to the Shan Viewpoint for supper, a lovely restaurant we had noticed on our way to the boat on our first day. Set in an old house downstairs on the polished concrete floor are comfy looking cushioned wicker chairs and an impressive looking bar. A wide central staircase leads up to the wooden floored and elegantly set restaurant. The menu is extensive and local fusion, the prices perhaps slightly more than elsewhere but still for a westerner incredibly cheap. I ordered the pumpkin dumplings and avocado salad which were both sublime, the dumplings soft and steaming in a crispy breadcrumb outer, the salad ripe and seasoned to perfection. Everyone else loved their choices and we all agreed our final meal in Nyaung Shwe should be here, hopefully with everyone feeling a little better and sharing a bottle of local wine.
And bundled up in our new warm wear, off to bed we went Xx