The centre of Yangon is busy with commerce, most of it done on the sidewalk.
It makes no difference whether it is clothing, books or fruit and vegetable, vendors merely lay their merchandise out on the streets, and set up shop. Stores as we know them are almost non existent, and there are no malls. What there are, are little more than holes in the wall, with no windows or doors, just metal grids that can be drawn across them at night for security, although why security is needed is unclear, as there is nothing worth stealing. Only the grandest of them have lights, and when they do it is usually just a bare bulb.
Our guide describes the city as a café society, or in this case a tea shop society. In Yangon, everyone gathers and meets at the innumerable street food establishments. Furniture, a rather grand name for an odd assortment of plastic chairs and tables, is all miniature, the type that WalMart sells (not that I have ever been in WalMart) for our kids to play with in the garden or on the beach. There are two problems with this arrangement: one, my knees won’t allow me to sit that low, and two my bum could not possibly fit into one of those tiny chairs. However the Burmese sit like this for hours, which only proves how awful their homes are, if they would rather meet here.
And if the furniture doesn’t dissuade you from frequenting these places, the service will. There are no knives and forks, and no chopsticks. In fact, no utensils of any kind. All eating is done with the fingers of your right hand. Likewise all the food is served to you by the fingers of the chef. Most Burmese still eat with their fingers in their homes. The use of knives and forks only occurs in the nicer tourist restaurants and hotels.