We yell out “1,2,3,4!” to mark out the tourists when they arrive at the pagoda in the long tail boats. This way we claim the first or the second or the third tourist to try and sell birdfeed to. Otherwise it would just be bedlam and the tourists would get annoyed at us if we swarm them.
I have been selling pigeon feed and flowers for about 40 years, ever since I finished 5th grade. I used to work at the Namphan market but I only sell at Phaun Daw Oo pagoda now. On a good day I can make about 5000 kyat but usually it’s about 3000 kyat on average.
I know education is important but my parents were poor so I started selling flowers as a little girl and eventually, I could make money so I got a bit lazy with attending school. I dropped out to earn money for my parents. My entire family sell here, my daughters and their children are here too. I have one grand daughter who is in Yangon and she is more comfortable as she’s married to a tour guide there. He is the main breadwinner for their family.
I have six children in all. They all sell pigeon feed and flowers. Some of them also sell fried bean snacks or rice. We all pool in our earnings and that way, we get by.
Daw Mya San
Lay Shi village
Vendor at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda