At Mandalay’s Railway Bazaar, a Taste of Local Life

The Irrawaddy ...

MANDALAY—For anyone who’s tired of popular tourist hot spots in Mandalay and wants a glimpse of ordinary Burmese social life, there’s no better way to spend your morning than shopping for produce at the Thaye Zay Station Bazaar.

About one kilometer north of Mandalay’s symbolic moat, the open-air market spans both sides of the railway track and is named after the station nearby, coming to life every morning when a train pulls up with vendors from nearby villages.

During the bazaar’s peak hour, usually from 9 am to 10 am, the area buzzes with energy as stallholders spread out locally grown produce on both sides of the track or on sleeper cars.

Vendors at the bazaar, like those at the similar Maeklong Market in Thailand, are sometimes required to pull their produce off the track to make way for an incoming train, especially during business rush hours from the early morning until noon.

But despite the occasional interruption, the market is popular with locals.

“The vegetables here are fresh from the farm, and relatively cheap,” said a Mandalay native. “You can marvel at the roasted harvest mice and sweet toddy palm sap available here.”

One of the most unique aspects of the market, he added, was the absence of foreign shoppers or vendors, who commonly go to other markets in Burma’s second-biggest city.

“It’s just a very local place where you can see how ordinary Burmese country folk make a living,” he said.