Day #171: Trek day 3 - farming in the Myanmar hills

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September 22nd 2013
Published: September 30th 2013
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Most families in all the villages we have visited run some kind of smallholding, growing crops. There are any number of crops grown, but one of the most common is peanuts, which are the staple of the Myanmese diet (it is quite possible, in a Myanmese restaurant, to be given complementary peanuts on arrival, then eat a main course of peanut-based salad or noodles with ground peanuts, then be given peanut crackling for dessert. I think I have eaten my own body weight in peanuts since I arrived).

Today when we arrived at the village there were women picking freshly-harvested peanuts off their roots and laying them out to dry in the sun. The remaining root is useless, so is burnt in small fires to make fertiliser; these fires can be seen dotted across the landscape by the afternoon or early evening. Other harvested vegetable crops are stored in specially built raised barns, which have roofs but open sides. The crops are stored on the top platform and firewood is kept dry by being stored underneath. Homes are also usually made from wood and it was strange to me at first to see wood fires being lit in the kitchens of the wooden houses, the kitchen always being upstairs on the first floor, as the ground floor is also a store. The fires are lit in the middle of the room on a clay plate, and also serve to heat the house, there being no power supply; they also however make the homes very smoky throughout, a smell that lingers until morning.

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