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Travel Tuesday: Morning market in Kalaw (Burma)

Market morning in Kalaw

En route to Inle Lake, we stopped for a night and 2 days in Kalaw, a small hill-town (with an altitude of 1320 metres) founded by the British for whom the Burmese plains were too hot. Indeed, it was the chilliest place we visited throughout our trip and surprisingly, it was one of my favourites even though we didn’t spend long there. It’s a peaceful town, most of the tourists who come here are hiking enthusiasts and trekkers as the hills surrounding the town offer fabulous opportunities if you are so inclined. We did a short hike for a few hours around the town and actually wished we had time in our schedule to attempt the hike to Inle Lake – sounds like quite the experience.  If you’re more interested in food, however, it’s a place you can get a truly excellent bowl of Shan noodles for the loose change in your pocket (more on that soon!). And if you happen to be there on “big market” day, you’ll be enchanted by the sights, sounds (and smells) of the market which takes place along Merchant Road (though I don’t remember any street signs – we just followed our instincts!) . The market runs daily, though every 5 days local hill-tribes join the regular vendors so the market grows exponentially in size.  Like the best markets, there is nothing remotely touristy about it and really nothing to buy (certainly no souvenirs!) – though we did buy some peanuts for snacks later.

The market supposedly starts at 6am though when we were there around 6.30, vendors were still setting up. It was a lovely, leisurely pace (and no tourists at that early hour the day we were there, though we did encounter a large group as we left around 7.15) and the perfect opportunity to see the locals going about their lives. I actually don’t remember taking many photos so I was surprised to come across these on my memory card – I do remember a lot of stopping and really looking at the people and their wares. Slowing down. Taking time to appreciate this extraordinarily special place.

Veggies at Kalaw market

Veggies, known and unknown including the ubiquitous cabbage.

Morning market action Kalaw

Love the old-style scales…

Tea seller and chatting at Kalaw morning market

Tea and a morning chat. Literally.

Veggies and betel leaves at Kalaw Market

Greens. And Betel leaves.

Kalaw market flowers and flower delivery

Flowers and flower delivery vehicles

Eating soup at Kalaw Market

Lots of locals eating their breakfast there…

Chickens at Kalaw Market

The “poultry aisle”

Garlic at Kalaw Market

So much garlic

Measuring at Kalaw morning market

“Plating up” Burmese style…

Local faces at Kalaw morning market

Vendors setting up

Chilies and pumpkins and ginger Kalaw Market

Chilies, ginger and pumkins

Bananas at Kalaw morning market

A whole “bunch” of bananas

Kalaw market vendors

Market day is for work but also for socialising with friends

Fish and chicken Kalaw morning market

Dried fish and chicken

At the Kalaw morning market

Everything is so colourful

English peas and strawberries Kalaw market

Yes those are English peas and strawberries!

Chilies and turnips at Kalaw Market

Produce is carefully, deliberately displayed

Ginger and tumeric Kalaw market

Tumeric and ginger which both feature prominently in Burmese cuisine

Fresh produce at Kalaw Market

Everything is just so photogenic!

Local colours at Kalaw morning market

All the ingredients look familiar… with a twist

If you happen to be en route to or from Inle, make sure you spend a day or two in Kalaw. It’s like no other part of Burma you will visit. And the market is truly worth he trip.

You might also like:

The cats of Inle Lake (Burma)
NamPan Market (Inle Lake, Burma)

A trip to Thandwe Market (Burma)
Ngapali Beach (Burma)
In and around Inle Lake

Toronto folks: Did you enter my $150 Lee Restaurant giveaway yet?

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20 Responses to Travel Tuesday: Morning market in Kalaw (Burma)

  1. Pamela March 12, 2013 at 06:44 #

    I enjoy the beautiful colours of the market that you captured in your photos. Just lovely and full of activity.

  2. Jan March 12, 2013 at 13:16 #

    Beautiful! (also very educational because I didn’t know what fresh turmeric looks like, lol!)

  3. Colette @ JFF! March 12, 2013 at 15:52 #

    I love local farmers’ markets…all the colours, fresh produce, friendly faces.

  4. Geoff March 12, 2013 at 19:41 #

    Another great visual post reflecting the “Travel” component of ELTW.
    Nice pics Mardi.

    • Mardi Michels March 23, 2013 at 17:50 #

      Thanks! It’s something I am trying to prioritise this year!

  5. Jan @ Family BItes March 12, 2013 at 22:15 #

    I haven’t had time to read the entire post but I just wanted to say that the photos are STUNNING! Especially the ones with people in them. Great job!

  6. Dianne Jacob March 12, 2013 at 23:11 #

    Gorgeous photos, Mardi — not the usual stuff of food blogs, which I enjoyed. I’m taking a class on Burmese cooking at IACP in April – can’t wait to see fellow Canadian Naomi Duguid.

    • Mardi Michels March 23, 2013 at 17:49 #

      Thanks Dianne, I’m working on the “travel” part of my blog this year….

  7. Cara March 13, 2013 at 08:02 #

    Beautiful, Mardi! I was just in Chiang Mai at the Haw Market where there are a couple Burmese and Chinese specialties. It was only on that trip that I could finally admit to myself how much I love markets…I could pretty much spend all day at a place like the above. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mardi Michels March 23, 2013 at 17:49 #

      Oh I love a good market! Much better than regular stores!

  8. yummychunklet March 13, 2013 at 13:57 #

    Wonderful photos!

  9. Cathy March 13, 2013 at 15:37 #

    Mardi! It’s a ubiquitous cauliflower!!!

  10. Martha March 14, 2013 at 13:19 #

    Love the pictures of the flowers bundled up for delivery.

  11. Jura June 2, 2013 at 02:39 #

    Great photos. I’m planning another trip to Burma and was trying to find out more about Kalaw and whether it was worth going to perhaps instead on Pyin uu lwin… Thanks for the photos and info!

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