“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Walking down the street

One of the simplest pleasures I have here is simply walking down the street. Not only is it exercise and a means of getting outside, it is also probably the most accurate exposure to Myanmar culture. The street vendors crowd the street--I had quail eggs with sesame seeds the other day, fried in a pan that looks like it's for mini muffins. You can buy any organ or body part and have it fried instantly.

Sure, stepping over the puddles, holes in the drainage, broken bricks and murky muddiness makes an obstacle course of sorts, and you could spend your entire time just watching for yourself. But then you would miss the fantastic sites. Handpainted movie posters with Hindi slogans and sexy stars, nicnac sellers (including a main selling needles from an open umbrella!), children smiling out from behind rice-paste "sun-block" covered cheeks, ladies wearing bright colors and carrying a matching umbrella in thai designs, and people generally moving on their way and going on with business as they do anywhere.

The great thing about Yangon is its size--you really can walk anywhere in downtown, and then walk back too! The suburbs sprawl somewhat, but exploring on bike is still a possibility.

The other day I bought two green plastic chairs for my balcony. Because I already had a few packages, someone from the shop carried them home for me. It must have been comical to see me negotiating the crowds with two chairs following on a little man's head.

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