My first experience of Myanmar is one of the most vivid of my trip. I stayed in the middle of a farmer's market in Mandalay, not knowing what exactly was ahead of me in this new country
In this wholesale market vendors sold shallots, chilis, garlic and dried fish in bulk. The smell was pungent. Adding to the experience, the hotel typically lost power during the heat of mid-day, leaving windows open to the breeze. I survived it, and perhaps this is why I love Balachaung, an intense condiment made of these strong flavors and oil.
I bought a small bag of dried chilis from one vendor at a pre-dawn market. The alley was lit with candles as far as I could see, illuminating butchered meat and strange vegetables. There were no fruits for me to buy here, and I had no way of cooking vegetables or meat, so I pointed out to a small bag of dried chilis. The woman began motioning, her hands waving up and down in front of her open mouth, worried I wouldn't handle the heat. I nodded and smiled, she smiled back happy to be understood