We had an appointment with specific group of people to discuss about “Khon Yodaya” a Myanmar traditional masked play at Phyapon province. The guide told us to leave early because from Yangon it may take about four hours to ride there. Just heard the news made us exhausted.
But the shivering cold morning in Myanmar wasn’t bad after all. It made our trip from Yangon to Phyapon more appealing (If we excluded those experiences from rough and life threatening roads).
We found little shops along with the dirt road. The guide told us “There are many fresh palm juice for sell” So, as Thais who loves to taste some good food along the trip. We didn’t hesitate to stop and intake some sugar compounds to our veins, boosting up our kicks.
Not so far though, we saw advertising billboards or some kind of political campaign banners but the most astonishing one was standout from the rest, a local advertising banner with comically look “Friendship Fresh Palm Juice” (Baw Tar Gyi Tan Yae Sain). It was represented a group of people sitting around and drinking palm juices but the exotic part was the background, 4 or 5 climbers are gathering palm, emphasized freshness of the product.
I thought “Why Burmese people take palm juice so seriously? Even they build print ads stands in front of their stalls”. To clear any doubt that left in me, I decided to walk inside the shed behind the shop and saw a vast range of rubber wood plantation. There were sets of tables and chairs for accommodate those local drinkers. Our lady guide took us to talk with the store owner. He called us to taste his best receipt that it was good or not. I volunteered.
I sipped a cup of palm juice and hoping it was sweet and mellow as I experienced in Thailand. Everyone in the store were eyes fixing on me. “Holy hell! Can I spit it out now” but my left brain took control and inspired me to say “its taste really good, not too much sweet. I kinda like it (I was crying deep inside)” after I had finished the sentence our guide was rushing to ask how much bottles I want to buy. “Just a one very little tiny bottle may I ask” I replied.
At least, I understood why local were having drinks palm juice’s habit so seriously.
Fresh palm juice made from palm tree with similar process in Thailand. But Myanmar style doesn’t remove palm husks entirely just simply slash husks, waiting for sugar snap and gum oozing through those cuts.
Local Myanmar people usually don’t drink palm juice in the morning. They wait for the juice to concentrate enough in natural chemical process by leaving them in jars or large containers. Its scent and taste are similar to Thai local moonshine. With high level of alcohol from natural fermentation technique, it has been popular to those heavy local drinkers who need some enjoyments after long day work in the evening. I took a carefully sip from the bottle that I brought as unavoidable custom and left the bottle without being touched almost the entire trip.
Here the evening came, we were waiting for a ferry to cross the river in Yangon. Suddenly, I wanted to taste the palm juice again. Because it may in a good concentrated condition, perhaps its taste was quite alright now in the evening. I reluctantly picked up the bottle and opened the lid.
“Bang!” the bottle exploded with tremendous force inside. Palm juice was pouring out with compressed gas, ruined our car. Lesson learned, don’t keep palm juices in car no matter what conditions.
If you have a chance to visit local shop in Myanmar. Try it as your own sake. I dare you to.
Kritshna Foosri The Producer of Unhidden Myanmar
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