Shop: Local Markets

I have a love-hate relationship with the local market.  It really is the best place to buy many things, especially fruit and vegetables, which are much cheaper and much better quality at the market than at any of the western supermarkets.  And I enjoy being treated like an old friend by the different sellers that I regularly buy from.

Local markets are also fascinating places to wander, in my opinion.  So many interesting sights, sounds and smells (although the latter are not always pleasant).  I'm also regularly amazed by what you can find at the markets.  I was surprised to find zucchini and fresh beetroots, among other things, at the local market.  

On the other hand, I find market shopping very tiring, there's the heat and the puddles of smelly water.  The pathways are almost invariably very cramped and you often have to contend with motos as well as other shoppers who appear to be completely oblivious to the fact you would like to pass them.  There's the endless asking how much things are and the constant efforts to avoid being ripped off.  There's the inability to find certain things, despite the repeated requests for directions, and the assurance that "they're just over there" accompanied by a vague wave of the arm.

In addition, there's the bizarre (at least to me) rules you have to learn, for example:

  • Mushrooms are only sold in the morning.  No one has told me why, but it's a fact, no matter which market I go to, mushrooms are only sold before about 11 am.  Usually, I can't find any at all after that time, and on the rare occasion I do find some they are very sad looking.
  • Pineapples are a vegetable.  This one sort of makes sense to me, given that pineapples are often used in stir fries or soups, but what gets really confusing is at the market I go to, pineapples are sold in the fruit section during the day, and then in the vegetable section at night.
  • Although most things are sold at stalls, there are some things that are only sold by people walking through the market and at certain times, and you just have to hope that you see them.  Lotus seeds are a good example.
  • Apparently (I have been told this but haven't been able to confirm it) flies on your meat is a good thing, if there are no flies it's possibly been sprayed with insect repellent.  I guess it does stand to reason, if the flies don't want it, why would you!  

...and I'm sure that there are more rules that I am yet to learn.

But, all that being said, I still believe the experience is well worth the inconvenience. 

Vats of Palm Sugar

Fresh corn

fresh poultry

Why, yes, those eels are alive...and yes they do splash and scare you half to death as you walk past.

Chbar Ampov is a great market to check out if you want a taste of a local market.  There's also a wholesale market a block behind, which is interesting to wander (so long as you don't mind seeing discarded animal carcasses lying around).

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