On my last but one day in Yangon, back in November, I found my way to Mingalar market, a huge multi-storey wholesale and retail market a little way north-east of the city centre. (A couple of days earlier while I was out taking pictures, I’d got chatting to a kind man who suggested it as a good location for people photography. This kind of simple helpfulness is typical of Myanmar.) Less obviously attractive, but far more interesting than the central Bogyoke market, Mingalar mainly stocked clothes and fabric, as well as pharmaceuticals and toiletries (as above). It’s a challenging place for a photographer. It’s cramped and crowded, and the people, though friendly, are understandably more interested in the business of buying and selling stuff than in accommodating clumsy photographers. And the light changes as you move around; at the edges, there’s warm natural sunlight from the open windows, while in the centre, there’s near darkness in some places, and harsh bare bulbs in others. But I always enjoy visiting and photographing markets in south-east Asia, and the morning I spent at Mingalar Zay was one of the most memorable of my four-week trip.
Since these pictures were taken, however, the market was gutted by a fire that broke out one night in January of this year. No-one was killed, fortunately, but there was a huge amount of damage. Many, if not all, of the stall-holders have had to be relocated. I wish them well. I understand that this isn’t the first time that the market has been hit by fire, so I’m sure that it will be up and running again soon.