Where It All Bagan

Trip Start Jan 20, 2012
Trip End Jun 12, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Thursday, April 5, 2012

There is a place that I never thought possible whereby you can feel like you are in the middle of nowhere and have so many temples around you.  It does feel very spiritual also knowing you are surrounded by monasteries, monks, temples and village people and yet there is not really a major shopping area.  I think they (The Burmese) have tried to keep it that way in order to preserve the feeling as well as the tangible. 

One thing that did annoy me a little was arriving about 30 minutes from Bagan all the tourists (2 Koreans and I) were taken off the bus and told to pay $10.........."What?", I was outraged and the fact that, more than likely, a percentage of the money is supporting the Military Regime although I did see the bright side of it when viewing the preservation of Bagan's temples.  I asked to pay in Kyat (the local currency of which the conversion should be 800:1 [$]) , "9000 Kyat" he says, I got out my crisp $20 and passed it to him.  Now this was late at night and he tried to fob me off with a bent note (I don't like bent....MARK), this may sound fine to you but again I was not impressed and demanded a new note.**

So not feeling like Bagan was the place for me yet, I arrived wary in the late evening at Winner Guesthouse, 5 bucks a night and breakfast in the morning, the guy at reception was an absolute gent, first class service from very reasonable digs, that's more like it!!!

I woke in the morning refreshed and ready to take a ride on a bicycle around Bagan.  There are 3 main parts to Bagan, Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaug U all in a 20km circuit.  The ride is really nice and my first stop was was the market, a similar one to the rest of Myanmar with fruit, veg, clothes, spices and handy crafts.  Then I moved to the temple just to the right of my Winner and the temple is one of few that can be climbed in order to get a view of Bagan.  There was a friendly man who took me around with a torch through the steps and at first I thought he was employed to stay there for tourists, he then pulled out his drawings, of which I had seen about an hour earlier from another guy.  The great thing here is that they are not pushy, in comparison to other countries, but also it is quite nice to just sit with them and listen to what they have to say or ask about.  Throughout the entire complex there are white temples, old brick ones, ones with paintings inside, big ones, plush ones, modest ones and they are all much of a muchness.....I visited a few others in the circuit and when getting to a little village I wanted to see came the sound of thunder,  perched on my bike at a stand still a lady pops over, "Mingalabar, do you want to see my village, it is very nice you can see weaving, and the people - how they are and have some food", very pleasant and invitingly (did I make that word up?), "I want to but I hear the rain" I reply partly because I do not want to ride in the wet and know I can see it without paying someone to show me, "That is not rain, that is just the wind"......at this point I made my decision not to take her up on the offer, however pleasant it was that is not wind my love! It actually did not rain that evening and now I am reconsidering how the wind sounds!

The following day I did want to see the village and found a friend to travel around with.  So basically doing the whole course again and visiting some different temples we arrived at "Paya Thounzu", but not knowing this I was asking where it was, laughing they said right here. A guy that owned a stall was very good to us and showed us another couple, actually more impressive temples close by. He was so helpful and friendly that I purchased a bowl from him, it is to go with spoon that I aquired in Inle Lake. While the transaction was in action a lady (I am going to call her Jane as I cannot recall her name) asked if we were hungry (which I always am - even in the mega heat) and it was very close to the village I wanted to see, so we said yes and made our way there. Before that we popped into the village and saw some crafts being made, an old lady smoking a fat cigar and a lady asking me if I want some food, "oooooooo", I said meaning sorry, "I have eaten!".   We left and headed for Jane's restaurant, Tea Leaf salad for me and vegetables for Anaise.  Before eating, whilst it was being prepared, "Do you want to see my village, it is very nice you can see weaving, and the people - how they are?".....Hold on a minute....It was not the same lady but was the same idea, although was very fun. walking over I saw the same lady who asked me if I wanted food, "This is my sister", Jane said, "Oh, oops" [laughing].  In the village we made peanut oil on a plank of wood dragged by a Zebu, fed the Zebu some ground peanut and sesame, ate out food, looked at some longyi's and smoked a big cigar with Jane's mum (Pictures coming soon). 

** The $ notes in Myanmar have a value on them, nice new crisp ones get full exchange rate whack, slightly bent ones the rate gets knocked about 6-7% and when you change a lot it does add up.
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