Ice Flow at the Thiri Mingalar Fish Market in Yangon

I went down to Thiri Mingalar fish market and dock area located in the Kyee Myindine township of Yangon just before sunrise.  The early morning haze coming off of the Hline river and the low cloud cover diffused the sunlight and spoiled me with great light to photograph with.

The market was a cacophony of people, fish, boxes, chattering, yelling, smoking and running.  All of this began well before daybreak and was in full swing, flowing all around me as I wandered along the cobble stone streets and concrete docks.

I spent most of the morning following the flow of ice around the dock and the market.  Given the heat and the few refrigerated trucks, ice is understandably the grease that keeps the wheels spinning down there.

Large blocks of ice arrive in the back of covered trucks and get slid down a plank onto two-wheeled carts that are then pushed up about a block to a shed.  Inside, there are a couple of old contraptions that crush the ice.  Men shovel the ice into crates which are then loaded onto another set of carts.  Men, mostly young guys, run these carts down the street, past the truck, and onto the dock.    The whole operation is built on the enormous effort (and undoubtedly sore muscles) of these men and provided me with another definition of hard work.

The fish get sorted as they are unloaded and sit in baskets and coolers covered with ice until they are sold.  After watching the fishermen and the wholesalers for more than an hour, I can assert that the fish baskets do not sit for long.  Once they are sold, they are either carried by another group of runners to a truck, motorcycle or cart for delivery around the city or they are packed into sealed crates with fresh ice.  I couldn’t confirm, but I am guessing they were being sent a bit further afield or were purchased by higher end customers who paid extra for the relative luxury of clean, cold transport.

One response

  1. Bobbi

    Chris! I love how you capture the feeling of the market. The hard work and the commitment to one purpose of keeping the fish fresh, is juxtapose the people settled into a way of life.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

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