A Travellerspoint blog

Busy day in Mandalay

Temple bike tour, monastery, Moustache Brothers, and gold markets

There weren't a lot of early risers in our dorm except for the man who was meditating in his bed for an hour. Breakfast spoiled us again with endless toast, juice, tea, eggs and generous fruit plates. We also met 'Moma', the guesthouse's operator, that everyone raved about when we requested a coupe bikes. It was a good thing we'd asked early because when we came down ready with our day bags, there were none except for the ones we'd reserved.

We biked through smaller local streets until we found Skinny Buddha by pure luck. If you found your way to 30th street, it was hard to miss the 75 foot statue done in a very different style to what were accustomed to seeing. We parked our bikes near a golden statue of a person playing the harp. The tall bronze coloured statue of Skinny Buddha had his ribs showing as well as his spine as he sat meditating. There was also a reclining Buddha at the site among other statues. There area was quite open and almost empty at this hour.

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As we got ready to leave, we found more puppies playing, sleeping or in open boxes set up with a blanket for them. They nipped at each other and ran around the grounds.

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We later stopped off at the Air Asia office to confirm there was a shuttle for our flight tomorrow. Then we ventured into a bookstore next door so I could acquire another Burmese short story book.

Sri Ganesh Temple was open this time so we went inside. It was described in our guidebook as a Hindu temple whose gopuram (tower) could excite us if we'd never been to Southern India or Singapore, which we hadn't. It was quite tall and impressive, but despite that we took no pictures. Once inside, we were approached by an impromptu tour from a local Indian man who explained the roles of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the protector, Shiva the destroyer and Ganesha. The explanations were hard to follow at times and remember so hopefully looking some of this up has helped ensure that it's correct.

Brahma has four faces just like the four directions and four Veda, sacred Hindu texts of hymns believed to be divine revelations. He was the revealer of sacred knowledge including the Vedas. Shiva is the destroyer, who will eventually be responsible for dissolving the world into nothingness at the end of creation. In the mean time, Shiva's destruction serves a different purpose to promote progress and regeneration. Our guide explained that Ganesha had an elephant head as after he was beheaded. Ganesha was Pavarti's son and Pavarti was Shiva's wife. She created her son to have someone loyal to her and asked him not to open the door for anyone. Her son listened which angered Shiva who wasn't able to enter the home even after revealing his identity. Shiva cut off the boy's head which enraged Pavarti to the point that she wanted to destroy all of creation. Brahma, the creator, came to an agreement with her. Her son would be brought back to life and worshiped before all other gods. Brahma set out to find the first creature laying with its head facing North for Pavarti. He returned with an elephant head which was fixed onto Ganesha's body and new life was breathed into him.

After our tour, we tipped, as was expected, our guide and he recommended a good Nepali vegetarian restaurant. Although we didn't understand much of the tour, the recommendation alone was worth it. Ryan had a potato paratha which was really good, like a pancake stuffed with savory potato and spices. My curry and puri (thin crispy, fried bread) wasn't quite as great, but still tasty.

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The Hindu population in Myanmar is estimated at 2.9 million of an estimated total population of 53 million. Much of the Hindu population came from India or Nepal at different points in history. The Manipuri Brahmins were brought to Myanmar 500 years ago by the King to perform rituals and give advice on astrology, scriptures and medicine. Some Hindu lineages go back as far as 2,000 years. The main influx of Hindus came in the mid-19th century when the British who had taken over, brought a million people from various regions in India to work in government, the army, build roads and railroads or do business and farming. The Nepali Gurkha soldiers settled around a similar time, but post-war. The Nepalese are generally well respected as during the Second World War, they helped fight the Japanese army and reclaim the country. Post-war, the government considered Indians "resident aliens" regardless of how long their families had resided in the country. Property was seized by the government, businesses were nationalized and people were forced to return to India. By the 1980s, those Hindus that remained were allowed to apply for citizenship and own property again.

Today Hinduism isn't as widespread as the dominant Buddhist culture, but its presence is accepted by Buddhists. Some Buddhists will go to Hindu temples to worship the Gods or for other ceremonies in addition to their Buddhist religion. The Chinese population will visit Hindu temples as well. (for more information on Hinduism in Myanmar see: https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=5647)

We rode our bikes over to the start of the Lonely Planet bike tour and as we found our bearings. A woman came to speak to us in English. It was hard to understand her, but she kept trying and apologizing. She reached in her pocket and gave us 1,000 kyat before walking away. We were pretty confused and decided to donate the money at one of the many temples we'd be visiting as we didn't feel right keeping it.

The self-guided tour took us down back roads and past older homes wedged together. We stopped in a few Buddhist temples and were greeted warmly each time. One had an indoor worship area with shiny mirrors and some interesting colourful statues outside. We weren't really sure if this was on the tour, but stopped in anyway.

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Later we passed some teak and bamboos weave home as well, though we never found the jaggery place. We'd been craving the sweet since our Mount Poppa tour.

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Next, we arrived at Eindawyar Ceti (chedi) which was said to be build around 1200 BE, though the current pagoda was potentially built in 1847. The temple grounds had many interesting statues including meditating monks sitting in front of Buddha and a tree, skinny Buddha, golden statues, a re-creation of golden rock, and Buddha and the naga (snake). We wandered around that section as it was shaded. There was a beautiful golden chedi lit up in the sun and four smaller ones surrounding it that had some animal-man statues at the bases. Even though the temple seemed important, it wasn't terribly busy.

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Near the temple was the crocodile bridge representing Ngamoe Yeik, the servant of a Burmese-chronicle hero Min Nandar.

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We continued past some old colonial building remains nearby. Next on the itinerary were the monasteries so we entered one at random to look at some of the statues. One of the monks held a rock in his hand aiming at a dog. An older man shook his head at the monk but he unleashed the rock on the perfectly innocent dog. Weren't monks supposed to respect other life forms? Though he was young and potentially still in training. The monk approached us and gave us explanations in very few words of the temples/ stupas as well as the nearby Italian building. He brought us to the back to see the other monk who explained a prayer booklet to us along with a math equation that showed the number of verses. They kept repeating it with joy. The older monk showed us the monk robing procedure and his alm he used to collect food.

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The younger monk took us into the old Italian building with photos of monk gatherings and pictures with special visitors. There were books too. We visited the rafters for some reason. The smell was quite funky up there and the heat was intense. Apparently there were birds to see. The monk wanted us to take some photos with him as well. The lighting made them fairly blurry but he was happy. As we left, he asked for a 3,000 kyat donation which wasn't what we'd expected. We gave him the 1,000 we'd received from the lady early and left a bit unsettled with the slightly disorientating tour. No more monasteries for awhile.

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We biked on until we found Mandalay's own mini teak bridge and eventually carried our bikes over it as well when we could find the proper way. This bridge had far fewer tourists, some resting locals and a temple to see behind it. The waterway divided the two roads and smelled a bit worse than the water around U-Bein.

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Our journey continued to see cargo ships and passenger ships on the Ayeyarwady river, the country's largest river flowing North to South.

We ventured into the new and impressive Jin Taw Yan Chinese Temple after that. There was a vibrant archway that led to a three story temple, conference room and gift shop. To the right was a smaller temple with paintings of mountains where people played mahjong. We walked up to the third floor to see the incensors, carved pillars, and sloped roofs that all reminded us lots of China and had us missing it.

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Our bike tour finished with a visit to the fancier Riverside Hotel. They even had a pool. We went up to the rooftop and after looking at the menu decided to have dessert and overpriced drinks. I scurried around to get some nice photos of the city and the river from both sides. The coco chocolate crepe was pretty good and my golden watermelon fruit shake as well

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On the way back, we got a touch lost trying to find our way to the gold markets. We passed through a bustling market overtaking the street rich in smells, colours and sights where our biked slowed to a crawl.

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We finally found the correct street for the gold market and went to watch the demonstrations. Workers bashed away with larger hammers to create thin strips of paper from bamboo. They'd repeat the process: cut, smash, enlarge for hours until the bamboo was fully utilized and turned into shiny paper. Swinging those hammers was hard labour in this heat. The process for the gold leaf was the same, but they didn't demonstrate it out on the street. We walked through the gift shop and saw people in a closed room cutting up the golden paper. None got wasted, just re-pounded into larger sheets. The sheets were applied to the Buddha statues in religious ceremonies and prayers as we'd observed at Golden Rock.

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After a rest back at the hostel and chatting with a few people like an Australian man with plenty of diving recommendations, we took a taxi to the Moustache Brothers show. Our driver dropped us off early and recommended Star 81, a busy three-story restaurant where Ryan had fried rice and I had their potato and broccoli off the BBQ menu. Mine was meager but cheap enough. The restaurant was quite accommodating to get our food to us as soon as possible so we didn't miss the show.

We ran down to the Moustache Brothers home and sat in plastic chairs. They gave us laminated articles to read about the comedy show. Both brothers Par Par Lay and Lu Maw were arrested and spent five years in jail after a performance for Aung Sun Suu Ky and others in 1996 while she was under house arrest. They made a joke about the government's sticky fingers. Par Par Lay was subsequently rearrested in 2007 as part of a crack-down on anti-government protests. In 2013, Par Par Lay, who had been released and was still performing the show, was diagnosed with kidney disease. The brothers believe it was caused by the lead paint in the water tanks that were in the prison. Lu Maw and their cousin Lu Zaw continued the shows afterward in his absence just as they had during his time in prison.

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Their shows are referred to as a-nyeint pwe, which according to Kyaw Phyo Tha's article "Junta Satirist From ‘Moustache Brothers’ Trio Dead at 67" is a traditional Burmese vaudeville performance in which a female performer dances and sings to light music while supported by comedians. While the government had banned them from touring the countryside as they used to performing to local audiences, they were allowed to perform from their homes exclusively for tourists. (http://www.irrawaddy.com/burma/junta-satirist-from-moustache-brothers-trio-dead-at-67.html)

Soon the plastic chairs filled up and the two remaining family members came on stage. Lu Maw showed us the scene from About a Boy where Par
Par Lay was mentioned as well as a clip from the 1996 performance, during which the brothers were arrested.

Lu Maw, with his colourful lettered signs, explained today's government as the military without uniforms, still acting in the fashion they did before. He had little hope for the upcoming election. He asserted that the only thing keeping his show alive was tourism because the government wanted to please foreigners to get their cash. For this reason, they'd let the brothers perform exclusively for foreigners, which they did nearly every night.

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This was one of his well-known jokes.

“I had a toothache, so I went to Thailand to visit a dentist.
"The dentist asked, ‘Do you not have dentists in Burma?’
"'Ah, yes,’ I would say, ‘but in Burma, we cannot open our mouths.’”

Lu Zaw came on stage to do some dancing in costume with an umbrella. Afterwards Lu Maw introduced his wife who was also featured on the cover of Lonely Planet a number of years ago, but he held the book up to her face for reference anyhow. Many of the shows jokes were about her. She had been a dancer in their troupe when it toured locally. He was a few years her senior, but they got married. Their daughter now worked as a taxi driver mainly for tourists and the young granddaughters danced on the stage with their grandmother for a few of the acts.

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The dances signified certain messages or acts, one of which was carrying the harvest. One dance they had a mask that reminded us of the Sichuan opera a bit. The costumes were quite bright and colourful. A performer studied for three years before joining the troupe. The troupe was then hired to perform at events around the country. Hiring a troupe for an event was considered a prestigious thing.

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The finale featured seven dances and much of Lu Maw's family performing as monkeys, ogres and a prince. After the show they had t-shirts for sale and called for some photo shares on social media. Our splurging couldn't go any further today as we had just enough cash to get ourselves home and to the airport tomorrow and we didn't plan on exchanging or withdrawing anymore. Even though our day was quite busy, it was a nice way to spend our final day in Myanmar.

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Posted by Sarah.M 04:59 Archived in Myanmar Tagged performance monk bridge dance mandalay pagoda crocodile monastery myanmar chinese hindu comedy sri_ganesh_temple eindawyar jin_taw_yan_temple riverside_hotel moustache_brothers par_par_lay lu_maw lu_zaw Comments (0)

A long journey from Hsipaw to Mandalay

Our last buffet breakfast was good though there weren't any pancakes, but some rice porridge to bring back memories of Chengdu where we ate more of it. We thanked the staff for feeding us so well over the past few days and packed up our bags to take the earlier, pricier bus to Mandalay. It was a bit sad to leave the guesthouse as we'd spent quite awhile there and it had been such a welcoming place. The bus stop was just down the street and when we got there a man gave us some oranges. A German woman walked around the street describing her trip into her camera and I wondered if it would pick up any decent audio over the noise of the loud trucks driving by.

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The bus was nice enough and we stopped two hours into the trip for a break. We weren't terribly hungry so we just bought rice cakes and chips then wandered around. Five or six identical vendors were set up on both sides of the road but most customers stayed on the bus side.

We stopped again in Pwin Oo Lwin, far from Sun Top burgers much to Ryan's chagrin. We were all asked to leave the bus for another half hour to stand in the sun. The stops continued arbitrarily without much reason. At least at first down the winding road, we'd stopped for a reason like for dozens of watermelon trucks, likely heading to China. I read the book of Burmese short stories the whole time and wasn't feeling as restless as Ryan. The book was quite good and I finished it as the sun went down.

Finally, around six or seven, we arrived at the bus station outside of Mandalay, nowhere near the Yoe Toe Lay Guesthouse that we'd booked. With the help of a taxi driver, we found the main rain to catch a shared pickup. The driver had been far less pushy than the dozen who shoved and crowded near the bus door, swarming all the passengers who dared to disembark.

We watched a bunch of trucks go by with not much of a clue as to what we were looking for. When a local man flagged one down, we jumped or crawled on in my case, trying to duck my giant bag under the roof to everyone's amusement, and rode to 35th street. People helped translate for us. The downside was that we ended up at the intersection of 84th and 35th streets and we needed to make it down to 55th or so.

We kept our eyes peeled as we walked for pickup but had no luck. We tried taxis and motorbikes with prices outside our budget. By 77th street, we decided just to walk, even when the motor taxis drove alongside us to barter much fairer prices. Once our minds were set, we went with it. We stopped in a handful of restaurants, some with pages of dishes with the exact same English phrase or expensive ones. At 57th street, I saw a sign for our guesthouse. I double checked our e-mail confirmation and sure enough it was a touch closer than I'd thought. We had to get a little help to find the guesthouse, but eventually we did. They greeted us with juice, water and watermelon, all very appreciated by two tired travelers.

The dorms were decent with our top bunks and the bathrooms were clean. Again, there was someone sleeping at 8 pm so we hung out in the lobby using the wifi. Hunger became an afterthought sometime during our long walk.

Posted by Sarah.M 04:14 Archived in Myanmar Tagged bus mandalay tuktuk station watermelon hsipaw yoe_toe_lay Comments (0)

Day Two Tungsan to Hsipaw trek

The night was warmer than we had anticipated. We'd brought toques, sweaters and scarves just in case, though the sweater was still necessary. Not many people woke up in time for the 7:30 breakfast so it was pushed to eight to Kham Lu's dismay. Breakfast was filling and again had no meat. We ate a thick veggie omelette, fried fern, lentil, beans and a potato daal dish.

We passed a few schools on our walk out of the village as well as some horses carrying wood up the hill.

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As promised, we only went uphill for a little while through some areas which saw less deforestation than yesterday. There wasn't an access road yet so it had some beautiful views. Tea plantations caused a lot of the tree clearing. Kham Lu saw the climate changing a bit as a result, like rain in dry season, and suspected that it would continue to change. One man was cutting logs by hand yesterday and would do so all day. He would only be paid by the builder once he was finished.

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We made it out of the nice forested area and down to the valley which almost felt like a desert. We had some tea, snacks and bought expensive water at a little shop. There were more personal photos at religious sites as well as photos of baby twins. The walk back without shade continued until a large truck passed us. It stopped and Kham Lu asked if we wanted to board. Since it was free, we did, clinging onto the metal bars around the sides of the box. It was fun at first to balance while standing and enjoy the passing scenery, but the constant fight to stay upright and oil fumes that were leaking in got to me. My headaches grew with every bump and shake. Ryan asked for me if we could get off and to my luck we had to stop anyway to let other trucks go by and hopped off.

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We walked the rest of the way back. Earlier we'd been talking about the Netherlands including its beauty and biodiversity. Three hours was a really long journey for them travelling to university North fomr the South. We also compared notes on tipping and taxes in both countries. Taxes were included in their prices and they didn't have the distinction on fresh or processed food taxes, although they may introduce it in the future to promote healthier living. We shared about Canada's size, diversity and how a three hour trip was almost a requirement to get anywhere from our part of the country. We also talked a bit about residential schools and out not so pretty past, also the differences between us and the states. They had noticed that most Americans took shorter trips and tended to volunteer. We attributed our long trips to winter escapism.

For lunch, we had Shan noodle soup. To the others' delight, there was finally a meat option with the veggie option for myself as well. It was quite tasty and the noodles had a slightly sticky characteristic that the ones at the tea shop had as well.

The tuktuk picked us up from there and we rode back to town. Kham Lu talked about these sticky rice and palm sugar treats that the Dutch women had tried a version of in Vietnam and loved. We said our goodbyes and went to relax in the room.

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Ryan and I rested until supper where our aching bodies made the journey to San for more barbequed okra, potato and Ryan's not so appetizing chicken stuffed with vegetable. We went to the corner that Kham Lu pointed out for a purple dessert patties. The woman steamed them with palm sugar and wrapped them in a bamboo leaf. We also got two green ones with nuts that the lady in front of us was buying. 3 pieces for 300 kyat or 30 cents.

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Back at Lily guesthouse, we asked what exactly we'd bought and the young lady laughed. It was a sticky rice dessert well known to the area. They may have been described in our guidebook as well.

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Posted by Sarah.M 06:18 Archived in Myanmar Tagged trek san school hike hot truck dessert hsipaw tungsan deforestation Comments (0)

Trekking to Tungsan

After delaying our trek a day, we were finally ready to depart, not until after one more tasty breakfast buffet. They had veggie tempura this morning to add to their selection. Five of us set off on a trek with our guide Kham Lu who was from a nearby Shan village. One man in our group was from Edinburgh, Scotland and the other women were from the Netherlands.

Kham Lu explained the shrines once our tuktuk reached the rural roads. Every village had a Buddhist shrine and a Nat shrine. Nats were spirits and could be guardians of the village. People worshipped there twice a month and to the Buddhist shrine twice a day. The nat shrines often had horse and elephant statues because the nats also liked to travel.

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We passed a fair amount of agriculture including corn, soya beans and tomato grown by the Shan people. Two woman picked herbs by the stream for cooking. Some farmers would rent out their land to Chinese farmers so that they could grow watermelon to ship back to China. Some village women would get married off to the Chinese men and move to China. Some visited afterward but Kham Lu couldn't tell if they were happy or not. Another foreign initiative was an oil pipeline that stretched from China to the Yangon area. It was still under construction, going through the fields and near the road.

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Kham Lu taught us hello (mày sǔng khaa) and thank you (possibly: sǔng khaa or ngín cóm) in Shan which both ended in ka like in Thai. The two languages were similar as Shan people (known as Tai elsewhere) also resided in Thailand. There are also some faint similarities to Cantonese because it's a Sino-Thai language.

As we passed the villages, we noticed small hydro operations to power a few houses. They also had cheap Chinese solar panels they'd connect to a car battery to power their lights and maybe one other device. For a country many claim is like a time vacuum, they're using alternative energy well enough.

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The road we walked on had just opened and Kham Lu expected it to be paved one day. The bridge was new as well. The villagers had collected enough money to finance it, likely using profits from selling a big teak tree whose trunk we saw. There were few regulations on cutting them down unlike in Thailand where you needed official permission.

We stopped at a small shop and shared spicy chips, some kind of corn puffs and dried noodles. In the home/store, the owner had pictures of her visits to important sites like Shwedagon in Yangon and Golden Rock. A kitten came to sit on our laps and was quite reluctant to let me leave.

There was quite a bit of uphill trekking in the harsh sun that followed. We went through plenty of water and took our own breaks since no one else was stopping. It didn't help that I was feeling a bit sick like I was catching a cold. Ryan offered to carry my bag for part of the trek.

Finally we made it to Pankam village for lunch in a wooden home/homestay that Kham Lu said that Mr. Charles hikes used a lot. He also had a few negative things to say about them that we weren't sure we believed.

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Lunch was pretty good and vegetarian friendly after I asked about the dishes. There was an egg dish, green leaf dish, mixed fried veggies and some dried and spiced soy bean that wasn't my favourite. The rest and tea were nice to have.

We explored the town including the tea steaming and drying area that most farmers used as it was the Palaung's primary crop. They could harvest each plant every fifteen days then process it. Dry tea fetched the highest price, but during wet season they couldn't dry it and it fetched a lower price. The average farmer earned about 3,000 kyat a day, equivalent to $3 US, which is sometimes the price we pay for a meal out here.

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At the school, we greeted some children with another greeting we'd learned "Chumsa!" In the small rectangular room, four teachers occupied the corners with their uniformed students. One taught English vocabulary, another Math and Burmese. They had white boards and paper booklets to write in unlike the slates of the South. There were a few English posters on the walls too.

The children ran up to question us with stock phrases: where are you from? Are you happy in Burma? How old are you? Kham Lu brought me over to speak with one of the teachers who had moved her classroom outdoors. When I asked her if she was from this village or another one, she froze up and couldn't speak. I should have just asked a simple question. Kham Lu translated for me and explained they got quite nervous.

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Kham Lu insisted that I teach the students something. The Scottish man jumped in with Ring around the Roses which had a different tune and lyrics than the one we grew up with in Canada. I got an idea and taught the students If you're happy and you know it as well as head and shoulders, which they'd done before. Interacting with them, it was easy to see their learning had be rote as they didn't respond to questions or prompts, just repeated what I said. It was still fun and they kept wanting to repeat the songs.

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The afternoon walk was shorter and we arrived in Tungsan before nightfall. Another group including the German and French guys from the waterfall were there. We even got rooms to sleep in with floor mattresses, walls and a door that we could lock, no lights though. The wash station was a bucket but it was still nice to rinse off a bit.

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We went on a walk through the village to the monastery. Many homes had metal roofs and some thicker walls. At the monastery, one American man quite adamantly defended his belief that road lines created inefficient and worse drivers. He wanted the freedom to pass when he wanted no matter any of our arguments.

The Dutch women gave their cameras to some of the village children to take photos with. They said that they'd done it in Vietnam and it was great. One of the woman had done her international development studies placement out there, working at times as a teacher. She'd travelled Vietnam after that too.

Supper was tasty with two pumpkin dishes, one regular and the other white and a touch more bitter. We also had some kind of tofu chip with tasty tomato garlic spice dip and tea leaf salad that had more crispy goodness than bitterness. Of course we had tea as well.

We played cards the rest of the night with Kham Lu, the guide from Mr. Charles guesthouse and a man from the house we were staying at. Kham Lu didn't like losing and some funny rules would pop up only to be vetoed by logic. It was still quite fun. The guides were a bit sad when they realized they wouldn't be able to purchase Uno games in their country. I almost wanted to pick one up in Malaysia and mail it back to them, if only it would get to them.

Posted by Sarah.M 08:44 Archived in Myanmar Tagged trek village china school shan pankam hsipaw pipeline tungsan Comments (0)

Nam Tok waterfall and Shan Palace

Ryan was pretty excited for breakfast and feeling better today. The buffet offered a similar spread except they had rice instead of noodles and fried veggies. We though there were no pancakes until another guest commented on it and we found out they were made and available by request.

We rented bicycles, talking to a French girl doing the same. Our first stop was the Shan Palace so Ryan could hear the story as well. I enjoyed hearing Fern's story a second time. In the discussion that followed, once we were joined by people from Singapore and the Netherlands, Aung San's role was discussed. He was as a man in charge before independence. He had to seek help from the Japanese to throw out the British during the Second World War. The Japanese occupation was quite brutal so Aung San went to the British for help and joined up with the allies. He spoke with ethnic groups after the war to try and get them on board with independence. After ten years, he told them they could re-evaluate their choice and be independent.

We also discussed the current political situation which was essentially all for show. Those in charge were the same military personnel but just without uniforms. It was all an act for international investors to get off the blacklists. Politics in place forbid Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in the upcoming (March 2016) election left people having less faith in a freer Burma. Candidates like Aung San Suu Kyi can't participate because of having foreign family members, i.e. her British born sons.

We spoke of the ethnic conflict and how its existence helped justify the military recruitment and expenditure. Currently, their army was the second largest in Southeast Asia after Vietnam and they hoped to expand from 400,000 to 500,000. Opium production and underdevelopment were theories on why foreigners were barred from entering some areas of the country. Once again, it was a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with the woman who had so much to share.

We biked over to Little Bagan, much easier to find this time. We went inside the Bamboo Buddha Monastery, Maha Nanda Kantha, to see the Bamboo Buddha this time as well.

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Since neither of us was hungry after the monster breakfast, we took a short rest then continued our ride to Nam Tok waterfall. To get there, we followed highway number 3 and turned right after a bridge. The guesthouse had given us a map to help find it as well. We biked past an impressive Chinese cemetery with hundreds if not thousands of graves ranging from Burmese cement caskets to fancy Chinese shrine ones. They continued up and down the nearby hills. A few people worked on new sites as we rode by.

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Just past the cemetery where the road forked again, we saw a group of foreigners including Sven and the French guy from the last waterfall we visited in Pyin Oo Lwin. The others returning from their walk said the falls were mostly dry but the walk was nice. We locked up the bikes and set down the steep trail. The other two guys decided to turn back partly there as they'd rather just rest. We continued through fields of watermelon covered in plastic, rice and the occasional water buffalo resting. Most of the path followed a stream and we went through a couple small villages with thatched roofs rest houses, animals and transportation like motorbikes.

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By the time the uphill portion started again, we were burnt out and feeling the sun's destructive heat. We made it eventually to see water trickling down the tall mossy rock walls. Thank goodness we'd made it to the ones at Pyin Oo Lwin. We rested further down in a shady pond area with our sad water supply. At least the town was close enough. The walk back was harder toward the end as thirst, hunger and exhaustion took over.

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After a rest and some water, we tried Pontoon Cafe but I wasn't too big on the vegetarian menu so we went to a teahouse instead, La Wun Aung. I tried samosa salad, Shan noodle soup and Ryan had fried rice. I really enjoyed my salad as it was something different but Ryan was put off by the fried dough stick we'd had as an appetizer. We didn't do much else that night except buy bananas to serve as my vegetarian meal option for our trek as another patron said there'd be mainly rice as a non-meat option.

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Posted by Sarah.M 04:24 Archived in Myanmar Tagged la waterfall hot dry myanmar ñam hsipaw tok wun aung Comments (0)

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