The Korean/cotton candy man

Each day the pair of men that compose this microenterprise arrive early in the morning and set up at a nearby primary school, selling a bag of cotton candy for 200 kyat each. They manufacture pink, white, and yellow-colored flavors, and refer to it as “Korean Candy” – another example of “cultural hitchhiking” (as seen in the “Biscuit-Bicycle Conversion Guide” post) on the cultural cachet of Korea. At least 70% of the airtime on state-managed television channels here is dedicated to broadcasting Korean soap operas, and everyone has a favorite. Supposedly couples in Korea purchase cotton candy from vendors outside the park and then proceed into the park to talk over important matters while chewing on spun sugar.

The pair of them have been selling cotton candy for five years, and they know of at least three other comparable operations throughout the city. After selling near the school in the morning they move their operation to a nearby market until the afternoon when class gets out and then return to the school.  Usually one person rides the bike and stores it at their house while the other rides the train to get close to the school and walks the rest of the way.

Unlike many other mobile/street microenterprises here, they claim business is not seasonal and they usually bring in about 25,000 kyat a day – rain or shine. The hand-cranked gas-heated cotton candy machine cost about 700,000 kyat to make (a bit under $1000 dollars), and the Hero-Royal bicycle it is mounted on cost them about 50,000 kyat when they bought it new five years ago (would have been about $38.50 back then, now about $72 at present rate). They claim their steed has been trustworthy, with no major breakdowns.  Impressive, considering the additional strain of the cotton candy machine and PVC pipe-based cotton candy display/storage apparatuses they’ve added on.

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