Alone in Magwe

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Thein Thein That Hotel

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hard Life of  A Trishaw Rider
My 615 am trishaw pickup from guesthouse to the bus station had to endure a gruelling uphill route. At the last climb, the elderly gentleman had to dismount and push. I remember pedalling the same route yesterday and it was tough. Imagine the extra weight of myself and backpack.

No Leg Room
My 6500 kyats Bagan-Magwe bus left on the dot at 7am. The seats were so ridiculously small in leg room that I had to poke my right leg out in the aisle. The bus staff saw my predicament and advised me to sit right at the back where leg room was in proportionate dimensions. Trouble was sitting at the back on a bumpy bus ride would be tormenting...but what the hell! Surely enough, this was one hell of a rollercoaster bus ride. Enroute south, we passed Mount Popa looking ominous, partly hidden behind angry looking clouds.

Mohinga Tol
At our only toilet break stop, I had the change to sample a dry version of Mohinga, apparently called Mohinga Tol (Can any burmese readers verify the name?) - A cold noodle dish requiring the vendor to mix the noodles with various condiments with her bare hands. It was a sight to watch and the dish was unexpectedly tasty. The original Mohinga Tol broth was served on a side.

Magwe Bus Station
Approximately 5 hours later at 12pm, I was at Magwe bus station with trishaw touts haggling at the bus windows. This old gentleman kept on haggling away with me in Burmese language until I had to say that I speak english only. He managed some english so I decided to stick with him. According to him, the nearest guesthouse would be 30 mins away on trishaw. Not wanting to return to bus station later, I took the punt and purchase my Pyay-bound bus ticket for tomorrow's morning.

Thein Thein Thar Hotel
Visitors to Magwe please take note. Magwe is not exactly a small town but the guesthouse options are really limited. The usual Rolex guesthouse was full when I got there. At the next guesthouse, I was flatly refused. It was a locals only joint. Relunctantly I took up a room at my last option Thein Thein That Hotel for US$25 a night. Hidden in the middle of a residential precinct lined with dirt roads and miles away from the main eateries. At least the room was decent and modern with washbasin plumbing not flushing out at my feet everytime I use it. It was really a 2 star comfort but the staff here were rather indifferent.

Cold & Cheap Lunch
I managed to locate an off street eatery with a cold lunch (most of my meals here had been cold but with alot of oil to prevent food from turning bad in the heat) of beef curry and some assorted side vegetable dishes for 1000 kyats. The vendors were easily amused when I pointed out my food in English. They would giggle when I point and say things like "egg" or "mushrooms" and they would repeat after me. 

Alone in Magwe
I slowly came to realise that I might just be the one and only foreigner in town today. I did not see any foreign travellers the entire time I was in Magwe. I certainly caught alot of attention when I was on the riverbank and playful children were yelling out for me and waving frantically like I had a tail or something.

Friendship with a Stranger
Walking to Mya Tha Lun Paya and passed the unmissable Magwe Bridge, I stopped to snap a few photos of this elderly man on his bicycle. He spoke a little english and we walked together to the pagoda chatting about his family and his buddhist beliefs. When I took his photo, I said that he looked handsome with his bamboo hat and whenever he met his friends along the way, he would use the same line to describe how he met me!

Up at Mya Tha Lun Paya, overlooking to Ayeyarwaddy River on a cliff, he would bring me around the pagoda pointing out finer details like the odd smiling face figurine out of the others on the main stupa. I did not ask for his name but I learnt that he works as sewing machine repairman and is a devout buddhist who meditates everyday. He also said something that left me a very deep impression -'I am very satisfied with my life.'

Warm Curry
It was by chance that I found this chinese-owned eatery at a roundabout near the market, serving burmese curries. This place had some really tasty cooking and they were served warm too! The owner suggested that I could check out the sunset at the river, not too far from here, so I did. And the sunset was brilliant with the diminishing glow behind jaggered hilltops, saturating the Magwe Bridge and Ayeyarwaddy River with beautiful hues of orange.
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