“The City of Flowers” ~ Pyin Oo Lwin Flower Markets, Myanmar

Street scene: a burmese woman with a load of yellow chrysanthemums, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Yellow Light
Yellow chrysanthemums, ready for sale as offerings to Buddhist temples and home shrines, reflect their colour back on their vendor.

Our private tour bus pulled over on a nondescript patch of road, somewhere between Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin. It seemed a quiet spot, with broken-down-looking vehicles parked at the side, and bamboo shop-fronts sitting back from the earthen verge.

Old Jeep
Parked on the side of the “highway”, an old jeep looks almost abandoned.

Ten photographic-tour participants, photographer Karl Grobl and Burmese guide Mr MM piled out of the vehicle, and onto the dirt at the side of the road.

For a moment, everything was still…

But, behind the huts and trees that lined the highway was another road, where Pyin Oo Lwin’s busy mobile morning flower market was taking place.

Because of its altitude (1070 meters – 3510 feet) and temperate climate, Pyin Oo Lwin was established as a hill station and summer capital during British colonial rule. The weather, perfect for growing fruit, vegetables and especially flowers, means that the popular resort town is sometimes called Pan Myo Daw, “The City of Flowers“.

Portrait: Smiling Burmese woman in a black and white checkers shirt,  Pyin Oo Lwin Flower Market, Myanmar.

Flower Seller
Huge bundles of neatly tied …

Portrait: Burmese man with a beetle-nut stained mouth, carrying purple chrysanthemums, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.

Beetlenut Bearer
… and carefully balanced chrysanthemums …

Flower Street

Flower Street
… are transported by foot…

Two burmese men talking in Pyin Oo Lwin flower market, Myanmar

Market Chat
… and …

A large bundle of yellow chrysanthemums on the back of a motorcycle at the Pyin Oo Lwin Flower Market, Myanmar

Yellow Chrysanthemums
… by motorcycle.

Flowers are a central part of burmese life. Everyday, freshly cut flowers are offered to the Buddha at household and business shrines and in temples and pagodas.

These flowers are grown in the cooler hills and transported to the markets daily by truck and by motorcycle. At the morning flower markets, chrysanthemums, asters, gypsophila (baby’s breath), and weeping goldsmith flowers (padeign gno in Burmese), in purple, pink, white, cream and yellow are on sale. Yellow flowers, the colour of gold, are particularly auspicious as offerings.

Close-up: a mass of yellow buds and blooms, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Gold is the colour of auspicious offerings.

Busy street scene: burmese man on a motorcycle with pink chrysanthemums, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Flower Delivery
Light and dark contrast sharply – even this early in the day –

Flower market scene: burmese woman walking away with a bundle of chrysanthemums, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Woman in the Midst
– as the crowd buys, sells and trades the various blooms.

It is early morning, but already the light angles in sharply, creating dapples and strong shadows as the trucks, buses and bikes, laden with bundled blooms, continue into town.

Blurred panning shot of an old local bus, piled full of people, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Local Bus
Locals are piled into old buses which trundle through the street …

Panning shot of a burmese man in a helmet and longhi on a motorcycle with a large bundle of flowers, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Transporting Flowers
… as the flowers keep coming …

Street scene: Burmese people crowd along side a road, as a motorcycle laden with white chrysanthemums drives away, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Street Scene
… and going.

Hands of a burmese person at Work tying up a bundle of flowers, Pyin Oo Lwin,

Hands at Work
Even while they chat and laugh, people in the market are busy at work.

Portrait: a young burmese with a small smile and a flower, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Shy Smile

Close-up: a Pink Aster bloom against brown shreds, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Pink Aster

Portrait: a burmese woman in thanakha powder carries a large bundle of purple flowers, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

A Woman and her Bouquet

Street scene: a burmese woman ties up a large bundle of flowers, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Having finalised her purchases, a woman ties up her blooms ready for the ride home.

While I was fact-checking for this blog, I came across a delightful post from a gardening enthusiast who visited the same markets two months after we did; The Frustrated Gardener is well worth a look.

My group and I, however, had to leave. We were heading off to visit some of Pyin Oo Lwin’s colonial splendours.

But, the next day as I wandered around Mandalay, I was very aware of the fresh flowers at the shrines and local temples.

White Chrysanthemums Inside a Buddhist temple, Mandaly

Chrysanthemums in the Temple

Bronze vases of yellow asters around the buddhist shrine at a  Mandalay business, Myanmar

Yellow Asters at the Workplace

Text: Keep smilingIt made me think about the love and work that goes into these cheerful and environmentally-friendly offerings.

It’s enough to make you smile!

Happy Travels.

Pictures: 16September2012

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