The Temples of Bagan
Trip Start May 30, 2005
129Trip End Sep 30, 2006
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I took it fairly easy on my first day, just content to walk around the town of Nyung U, There were a few temples to see, but at the main one I managed to get hassled beyond belief. In fact it got really unpleasant and I had to practically push my way out of there, I'll not be heading back. On the second day there I decided to hire a bike to see the many temples that are in the countryside surrounding the town. This would have been a great idea except I didn't fully appreciate the strength of the sun and the heat of the day. I managed to see a couple of the temples before taking a big wrong turn down this dusty track that just got dustier. I also managed to run out of water down this track which was a serious bad move. I should of turned back sooner that I did, but did I? No - not stupid me. Of course I did turn around eventually but by the time I did and then get back to the nearest shop that sold water I was completely spent
To compensate for the wasted time that I'd had in Bagan I decided to be a little bourgeois and hire out a horse and cart (with driver of course) for the day. At 10 times the price of the bike it wasn't the budget traveller option but it was fantastic. I was taken to all of the main sites while lounging like a colonial emprorer in the back of the cart. Now the temples themselves are great, I can't take that away from them and I was of course happy to be able to see these fantastic ruins. It's just that they were almost all the same. There were a number of them that were sufficiently different, surrounded by the others that they looked great, but to be honest one day is more than enough time to see the temple, except if you have a particular interest in archeology. At the end of the day I headed to a popular spot to watch the sunset over the plains, withs hordes of other tourists. It was great, really beutiful
The English football season started again while I was in Bagan, it's amazing popular. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are the teams of choice round here. I couldn't find one single local who supported any other team, this was epitomised by one guy who was so delighted of Chelsea's 'crushing' defeat of Wigan (1-0 last minute goal) that he said "I'm very happy, Chelsea win, so I win". I'm convinced that a straw poll three years ago wouldn't have returned a single positive response for Chelsea. I keep on asking the locals if they support Manchester City but not one has shown the least bit of interest in them, Sorry Mafty. As a final though I feel like pulling out a map of the UK and seeing if any of them can even point to Manchester or even London. To be honest I think that most would struggle to point to the UK, but then, that wouldn't be their fault. The government here really doesn't want much to do with the International community and so it wouldn't be very high up on the curriculum. And as a side to that they don't make education compulsory and only the children of richer children can actually afford to send their kids to school, a) because they need to pay money to do this and, b) the children can be more profitable helping with family businesses and selling stuff to tourists. It's a sad situation which I guess leads to one of their main releases, football. Under these circumstances even I would become a Manchester United fan.
As a little side trip from Bagan I headed to Monkey Poo Hill. I'd managed to find Rachel from Pyay again and we'd arranged to go together, renting a car which also came with a few other tourists. The ride over was great, we stopped at a little cottage factory that produced gallons of moonshine
Monkey Poo Hill was great. The locals call it Mount Popa home of the mother Nat spirit and is particularly holy to them. To me it's the hill where monkeys live, eat, and poo. Since it's another of these holy spot in Myanmar you have to climb the hill barefoot, you can tell that this is not a combination that's really not going to please too many people. I decided at the bottom of the hill that it'd be a good idea to buy a bunch of bananas thinking that it'd be cute to feed a few monkeys on the way up. Now these monkeys were cute and they were a bit like the pandas in China when the camera went into overdrive taking all sorts of shots of the wee fellas. Half way up the hill I found one of the guys and pulled out a nana throwing it at him
It was time to move on again. Next stop is Mandalay, Myanmar's second city with four ancient cities to explore in the surrounding area.