Saturday, January 5, 2013

Marketing in Myanmar

That afternoon we took another boat ride, this one the picture of luxury, complete with deck chairs, drinks, clear skies and oh so warm. We headed for the unfinished stupa. Doing 
Unfinished Stupa
Hand rail to get on the boat
good works is very important and most kings set out to create something that is memorable. This one, sadly, died before it was completed so the son abandoned the enterprise and started immediately his own memorable temple. The unfinished stupa, however, is quite interesting. They are solid buildings, usually with a relic inside. The brick work was put in place surrounding a rather large mound of earth. At one time you could climb to the top of it for great views of the river valley but the top is eroding and there are now ever growing cracks. I will say, the highlight of the trip was the boat ride and the setting sun as we returned.
Roaming the streets we had a chance to watch some of the sculptors at work. I have always pictures the hammer and chisel routine where they work at perfectly shaping the nose, the eyes, the hands. This, however, is one area where they have modernized. The men work with power 
Polishing statues
tools to create the statues! It was amazing to see them work so deftly and quickly to create the delicate features found on all of the statues. Polishing, however, is still done by hand, using a variety of materials including good old sandpaper.
Throughout our trip here we have been met by the locals with tons of stuff for sale. If you say no to one thing, they simply pull out something different, a one of a kind thing you just can’t do without. Ever wonder where it comes from? Well, the wholesale markets are alive and well, selling every tourist item you could ever ask 
for (as well as things the locals would need). The most interesting part of the market (besides the confirmation that those guys DIDN’T paint those pictures) was the jade business. They have countless number of people cutting the pieces of jade with business men with monocles checking each cut.  The stones are then taken out to the people who will shine them, preparing them for sale or use in various pieces of jewelry, also for sale in the wholesale 
Polishing jade - note the foot wheel
market. These men and women (boys and girls in some cases) have not been provided with electronic ways to polish the stones…they use foot power to turn the wheels.

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