The Beach Sellers
Cristina Maria Chiorean
Ngwe Saung beach situated in the Bay of Bengal, a 4.5 drive west from Yangon, is a popular place for those wanting to escape city life for a weekend. The beach at Ngwe Saung is busy early morning with food and fruit sellers, motorcycles which use the wet and hard sand at the shore to speed around, with the fisherman which drag their nets full with small fish on the shore, with boys riding their horses, and sometimes with a bullock cart going towards the village. The latest addition to the buzz, which increased lately, was the ATVs driven through the beach in attempts to rent the toy-like cars to tourists. It got a bit annoying as they are noisy and their owners tend to park them in front of sun loungers while they wait for customers- spoiling the view of the beach and the endless seas. Of course with some perspective, it is easy to understand why most of the locals use the beach ‘for potential ‘customers’ when there is a chance to increase their income.
But there are many sellers besides the loud ATVs and horses. I began to see the same faces of sellers every time I went to the beach. I began to study the ones I saw the most and became a customer of theirs:
A coconut seller who sells one coconut for 1000 Ks (70 Euro Cent). He arrives in the morning around 10 am and waits for his clients sitting besides his bicycle laden with coconuts. At noon the sun is hot and he improvises a bit of shad with a plastic sheet attached to his bicycle. After finishing the refreshing coconut water, the seller will crack open the nut so you can enjoy the coconut flesh as well.
A Seafood Seller who sells cheap barbecued seafood (shrimp, squid, small fish) from his tray balanced on his head. They walk the beach up and down calling out loud to sell their fare. I remember the sounds but not the exact Myanmar words yelled out. They were served with a spicy sauce made of soy sauce, garlic and chili.
The hat and other souvenirs sellers are a sight in itself due to the high pile of straw hats (made out of palm leaves) on their heads. One hat costs 1000 Ks and after a few days the green of the leaves turns brown.
The masseur arrives in the morning with his large umbrella attached to his bike. He carefully spreads his mat and towels on the stretch of beach between the hotels. He is serious competition for the hotels due to his low prices, one-hour costs 7000 Ks (5 Euros). He recently increased the price since November when an hour was only 6000 Ks. He lives in the village with his wife and two children.
The sellers I met only make an income during the dry season from November until May when there are tourists visiting. It is hard to know how they sustain their families during the five long months of monsoon season. Either way, it is hard to picture Ngwe Saung without them.
Cristina Maria Chiorean’s travel photography and essays can be seen at My Life In Myanmar.