Photo taken at Shwetharlyaung Pagoda in Bago
(Sorry, I forgot to take photos at the Scott Market)
Nowadays, Myanmar is the ‘it’ place in the world due to its political reform and sanction removal by US and EU. The number of international visitors are rising everyday. Whatever reason they visit Myanmar, one wouldn’t normally leave the country without buying souvenirs.
The best place to buy souvenirs in Yangon is of course the Bogyoke Aung San Market, formally known as Scott Market. There are many shops there featuring a variety of souvenirs to choose from such as postcards, gem paintings, jewelry, etc.
I was at the Scott Market last Saturday with Y and O as Y wanted to buy some souvenirs for herself and her colleagues. I used to think that the jade bracelets were expensive but some were only 1000 kyats. In dollars, the price is $1 which is around 800 kyats so O managed to bargain with the sales girl to sell the bracelet for 800 kyats.
After spending about 3 hours at the market, I started to have a basic idea about the prices of some of the items.
Which is why it is difficult for me keep myself quiet at a souvenir shop yesterday evening because everything costs more than twice the original prices. A small gem painting that cost 1500 kyats cost $3 (2550 kyats). At first, I was just going to keep quiet while Y looked around but when I saw that a normal traditional leather slippers were charged $17. I was like what the heck, how could these cost $17. To make the matter worse, I flipped the slippers and saw the original price tag. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was between 4000-5000 kyats. This put me in a bad mood and I started grumbling about how expensive they are. Thinking that I was out of earshot, I was talking to N about the prices when a sales girl came up behind me and told us these prices are for foreigners.
I stopped talking about the ripoffs but I’m not satisfied with her answer. Just because they are foreigners doesn’t mean they should be ripped-off or that they should pay extra money. You might say this isn’t unusual and it also happens in other countries, but I still think we need to change our mindset if we want to invite foreigners to visit our country.
If you are a foreigner reading this post, I would like to suggest you to take a look around the Scott Market before buying souvenirs at “big” souvenir shops.