It’s a sprawling market, displaying the finest natural provisions of produce from around Myanmar (Burma).
Just outside the central area of Yangon lies the scattered Thiri Mingalar Market – somewhat of a distribution and bulk fresh market.
It’s not quite as chaotic as the midnight market madness of Long Bien Market in Hanoi, but it was a real flavorful insight into Yangon.
Walking into the market was like walking down the red carpet in Hollywood; The carpet was made of decaying cabbage leaves and banana debris and the fans were locals, curious to see random foreigners.
We got our share of stares – all in the most friendly smiling and nonthreatening of ways.
Thiri Mingalar Market was alive!
Overloaded lorries from the countryside stuffed to the max with giant cabbages and gunny sacks of onions were in the process of being unloaded.
Tuk Tuk’s raced through the passage ways of the market while rapidly distributing the produce to vendors. Laboring men hustled baskets of food from one side to the other with haste, blazing their trail through the crowd of humans with a shrieking smack of their lips.
I would bend over to snap a photo and immediately anywhere from 3 to 12 locals would be at my back, everyone smiling, trying to catch a glimpse of the captured view.
People were even more curious when we shot a scene for the Yangon video documentary, wanting to see for themselves what was stored within that little hand-held device.
A few activities at the Thiri Mingalar Market:
1. Burmese Mohinga
It didn’t take long for the sweet perfume of Mohinga (the national dish of Burmese cuisine – rice noodles in a fish gravy) to penetrate my nose and entice me to eat breakfast.
I made a direct line for the Mohinga stall and slurped it down in a hurry!
2. Sugar Cane Girl
I’m not a huge lover of sugar cane (too much sweet and not a lot of taste), but this girl convinced us to buy a pack.
3. Surprise Ham and Cheese
With nothing on the Yangon (Rangoon) itinerary but to sample and observe, we deemed it a good idea to try a Myanmar beer in the food court area of Thiri Mingalar Market.
It lead to many smiles, a few broken conversations, and a slew of snacks tossed in our direction to test (it was awesome!).
The Winner: Pink grains of rice, mixed with raw onions and garlic and bathed in a Burmese style dose of grease. The salty taste was frighteningly reminiscent of a dish of finest ham and cheese. Made for quite the bizarre mushy beer treat.
Afterward I asked a few locals, all of whom were stumped at the identification. Anyone know about this snack?
4. Racks of Bananas
There was a banana infestation at Thiri Mingalar, it was like an entire plantation had been harvested.
5. The Snake Man
On the way out of Thiri Mingalar market, we stopped to eat some freshly cut watermelon, which in Burma resulted in a chat about football (our common language) with a number of guys that were hanging around.
Out of nowhere, a peculiar man appeared, wrapped in a cloth with a shoulder bag around his neck.
He approached us with a staring smile. There was a movement in his bag and soon he pulled out a python. The Burmese locals jumped back, adrenalized to see such a serpent come out of a man bag.
It remains a mystery; Normally this sort of man waits for the classic tourist to take a photo, changing a maximum fee.
This man however, was NOT a tourist charmer (there aren’t too many foreigners that choose to visit Thiri Mingalar market).
By now a crowd of Burmese had formed a semi circle around this man, everyone just as curious as we were. He took a quick drink of water, packed his snake back in his bag and walked away as calmly as he had arrived.
How to Get to Thiri Mangalar Market, Yangon, Burma
- Taxi: from the center of Yangon town should cost 2000 Kyats
- Bus: There are a few buses that go between the city center and the Market but you’ll have to ask someone at the market what number to take, someone will help you
- Back of the truck: On the road at the exit of the market, you can also get in the back of the truck, ask the tout about a landmark, such as Shule Pagoda (downtown Yangon) and they will take you in the right direction
Taking a bus or truck in Yangon is a very entertaining ride, and don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help!
If you plan to visit Yangon, be sure you look over the important Yangon travel information.