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Late arrival in Kuala Lumpur

After nearly a month in Myanmar, we'd reached our final hours. Our flight and shuttle were late enough that we could have a nice breakfast at the hostel and relax for a bit. On the menu this morning were eggs, toast, pancakes and an interesting mix of sticky rice, chickpea and sesame. Some people ran off to get souvenirs that morning but we didn't want to risk missing the shuttle. That and we had our funds had dwindled down to roughly $3 or 3000 kyat after the airport shuttle and didn't want to pull out more. We said goodbye to the manager of the hostel who made an effort to chat with lots of the guests.


The Mandalay airport is a fair distance outside the city but our drive was quite comfortable in the van. Today was also the full moon festival at the temples, which was too bad considering we'd be spending it on an airplane, but the trip had to move onto fresh ground sometime. While our final destination was the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, most of the others in the van were heading off to Chiang Mai in Thailand.

The Mandalay airport wasn't huge, a couple stories with a few food shops and restaurants around. We went straight to check in but to our surprise we couldn't even go through the gates to the check-in counter since our flight wasn't ready to check us in. We found it a bit bizarre. When we were finally let through, the pile of tickets for each passenger was sitting in a basket for them to look through and find each one. No staff computers or terminals to print them as we arrived like a typical airport. It was a bit funny, like half of the airport was only for show. Why have all the desks with no equipment to do the jobs?

Past security, we went looking for a shot glass souvenir for a friend but had no luck finding one, just some tea lacquer ware. We spent our final bit of money on a veggie sandwich. It would have been nice to spend it elsewhere and support more of the everyday local economy, but you never wanted to be caught empty-handed in the airport in case of unexpected fees.


The airport security was much like the absent computers and it really irked Ryan. We'd assumed there'd be a point where we were searched for liquids but by the time we crossed into the final boarding area we realized it never came. Aside from that, our connecting flight to Bangkok went by smoothly. We had a chance to browse the in flight magazines and add a few more destinations to future hypothetical trips. There was also a Hindu festival today at the Batu Caves not far from Kuala Lumpur that we'd be missing.


Bangkok airport was full of familiar chains like Subway, McDonalds and Dairy Queen, all of which we stopped at. Ryan had been looking forward to the latter since our flight into Myanmar. It didn't disappoint, except for when the containers were done and Ryan contemplated a take-out bucket. The flight into Malaysia was fairly uneventful and immigration was a smooth and easy process. I used to dread flying to KL because their old airport was disorganized, hot and not very modern. Their new airport was quite well done and much more functional.

The only hiccup came when we went to claim our bags. Our flight and one from Singapore both had bags come and go around the carousel but ours were nowhere to be found. We went over to the baggage claim help area where another man from the Mandalay flight was waiting for his bag. He was connecting to a flight to Langkawi, an island further north, and had more time constraints than us given that this was our final destination for the next couple of days. Still it would be nice to have clothes. Ryan was convinced that if any airport would lose our bags it would be one from Myanmar. The other man was sure he saw his bag get on the flight to Bangkok.

A few people helped us out and as soon as I left to exchange some money, the bags were back. The luggage tags had been printed in a way that confused the staff, go figure.

We discovered upon exiting that the airport was connected to a huge fancy mall with tons of Western food chains, along with eastern food and tons of outlet stores. We tracked down a money changer to get rid of some yen, then I found a working ATM.

One thing really practical and handy thing about Kuala Lumpur is their transportation network. They have buses that run from the main light rail station straight to both airports that leave frequently. The buses also make the return trip so you're not stuck out in the middle of nowhere bartering with cab drivers. We arrived at the shuttle bus to Central and they loaded our bags. Soon we saw that most people around us had tickets. We hadn't realized that we needed them as we'd read that we'd pay on the bus. We didn't want to lose our spot as it was getting late and there was a line, so I just had my wallet ready to hopefully be able pay when he asked for the tickets. But somehow he managed to count us in a group of 6 Chinese people who had pre-booked with their flight. It's possible he saw we didn't have tickets and just overlooked us, but all the same it was nice we'd be getting a ride into the city after all. We'd make sure to buy a ticket next time.

The ride took about an hour. Upon arriving, a taxi driver informed us the monorail was closed early as it was a holiday. While that was entirely possible, I wanted to confirm for myself, so we walked over to the station. We mistakenly ended up following the overhead fast train track to Petaling Market. Luckily some of the buildings were lit up to make the walk a little less boring.


The Chinese lanterns were pretty and the streets were quite dead. When we made it to the train, sure enough it closed at 11p.m. We walked to the end of the market before catching a cab to Sunshine Bedz, our hostel. Luckily, Kuala Lumpur hardly slept so there was usually someone around to pick you up and check you in up arrival. Most of the people working at this hostel were backpackers or immigrants. I hadn't thought of a working holiday visa here, but it could be a nice place to live.


They showed us our room which was alright minus the neon signs shining through the curtains. We'd certainly landed in a commercial area.

Posted by Sarah.M 13:22 Archived in Malaysia Tagged flight malaysia bangkok mandalay transport shuttle monorail petaling klia2 Comments (0)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

Mandalay Temples and Stunning U-Bein bridge

We rental half decent bicycles and got the tires pumped up. Then we headed for 62nd street. We passed the walls and moat that now hosted a military/government activity as well as a museum. We enjoyed the teak Shwenadaw Kyawk from the outside to avoid giving all our cash to the government. There was a white and gold pyramid-like building behind it too with a tuktuk full of Burmese people going inside.


We continued to Kuthodaw Paya which contained 729 marble stone slabs from the Tripitaka texts, featuring Buddha's wisdom orally passed on for hundreds of years until they were transcribed around the 1st century BCE. In 1859, King Mindon had this temple and Sandmuni, which contained double the stones, built. He also had monks recite the books non-stop and it took them six months! Later the British would occupy this site until a Burmese appeal to the Queen's promise to respect religions under her rule had them moved elsewhere, and then much of the gold and significant items would be discovered looted.


Inside there were slabs encased in bright white mini temples and dispersed in rows that surrounded the whole golden pagoda. We weren't able to visit all the stones, which was alright given that we couldn't read the Burmese script.


We stopped at Sandmuni temple which was quite similar to Kuthodaw except the book housing temples were much closer together. The area was also much less busy. We found a few cute kittens with big gremlin eyes I just had to photograph. They were hiding out on the cool floor near the shade. The gray one wanted the most attention and it wasn't we received by its siblings.


We skirted another parking lot fee by going elsewhere and then just walking up to the stairs to Mandalay Hill. The climb featured temples, shops and obscured turns that led us to believe we'd arrived several times before we actually did.


The view of the palace moat was really neat and from further up, we spotted a golf course of all things. The view, which they charged foreigners to photograph, was really quite average. Luckily if they only charge at the very top and if you don't use your camera, you don't have to pay. With so many steps on the way up our free vantage points weren't terribly different.


On the way down, we took a wrong turn which we should have noted seeing the unfamiliar heart and garden photo studio. But we got to see the lion guardians in the end. The walk to the bikes was short enough even at the wrong entrance.


A longer ride to Marie-Min, an Indian vegetarian restaurant, followed. It had a cozy second floor balcony. We ordered coconut milk curries, potato and tamarind for Ryan and veggie for me. I also splurged on a tasty papaya shake.

Sri Ganesh Hindu temple was closed when we went but we could still see the bright Hindu influence. We continued to the monasteries. Ma Soe Yein Nu Kyuang had a clock tower and a taller tower by the river. Some of the supporters of ethnic clashes and suppressing minority rights in Burma stayed here. We didn't stay long and found Shwe In Byin Kyaung, a teak monastery under renovation. There were many beautiful carvings in the doors, eaves and roof.


With our clock ticking, we steeled ourselves for the long ride to U-Thein bridge. Riding on the main highway was quite intimidating, but after twenty minutes, a miraculous separate bike and motorbike lane appeared. It was wide and separated by a boulevard. That ride was far more enjoyable.

Using Google Maps in Amarapura, we found another road leading to the bridge. The road cut off partway, but a woman directed us past the railroad track and garbage patch to a paved road.

Along the road, the stunning green fields stretched to the beautiful river. We turned toward the bridge near a town and shops to find our way to the bridge. We parked underneath it, grabbed water from a vendor and began our walk across.


The plan was to walk the bridge and back and take off before sunset. We marvelled at the fishermen in knee deep water, children splashing and playing and the general calmness of the bridge patrons.


We met a monk along the way who wanted to practise his English. He was from Bhama but had been living in Mandalay for ten years. He was twenty one and enjoyed soccer. At the monastery they would play every day and they even had teams and a league to play other monasteries.


When Ryan asked about his orange robe, different than the red ones which were common in Myanmar, he explained that Buddha said that they could wear any colour they liked. Right now he had the weekend to go out and visit sites like U-Bein to find foreigners to practise his English with. His English teacher was Burmese.


We sped walked to the end before retracing our steps. There were certainly more foreigners at the opposite end, some in high priced boats that looked nice in pictures and others running to the middle island for their sunset photos. We joined the latter right as the sun made its grand escape between the pillars of the teak bridge.


There was still some light to bike along the shore and rice fields, past soccer games and to the main road. Even with street lights, the ride back was stressful and long. Spring rolls and Star cola relaxed us when we could finally eat supper.


Posted by Sarah.M 06:18 Archived in Myanmar Tagged mandalay mandalay_hill u-bein_birdge marie_min shwe_in_byin_kyaung kuthodaw sandmuni Comments (0)

Sunrise over Bagan

Finally, we had enough energy to tackle a bike ride to see sunrise. The staff were up too so we could rent the bike for the dark and chilly venture. There was a little traffic but we stayed safe enough. The dirt road was kind enough to us too. The sky began to light up so we opted for our familiar sunset temple, Buledi. We weren't the only ones there either which confirmed it might be a decent place to watch sunrise.


The sun hadn't broken through the clouds yet but light trickled to the temples. Red hot air balloons were being inflated in the distance, just waiting for the sun to take off and illuminate the rusty landscape. There were green balloons as well.


As the sun began its ascent, two scenes emerged: the sun rising between two stupas, a bit darkened by the direct lighting, and the fire powered giants rising over the lit temples to the North. The green Oriental Balloon giants rose in photographic succession that I captured all too many times. The balloons soon drifted in front of, over and behind us.


Switching to the other side on the temple, a colour splash awaited of red, yellow and green. It really added something special to the already stunning vista. We both left pretty happy with the experience.


With time on our hands, we ventured to the large Dhammayangyi Temple. Built by King Narathu between 1167 and 1170, the temple had a bloody history. King Narathu murdered his own father to ascend to the throne. He was a strict overseer of construction and would execute masons if a needle could be pushed between the bricks. As fate would have it, he never completed the construction, due to repercussions of his actions. Displeased by Hindu rituals, he executed an Indian princess. Her father, Pateikkaya, sought revenge and sent eight disguised officers to assassinate Narathu in the temple.


Each entrance was nearly closed off by Buddha statues. The structure had a more pyramid-like shape than the others. In the sections that protruded, there were paintings of Buddha as well as circles on the archways. The building had high ceilings, but they were relatively empty, save the birds and the bats whose feces was pungent. A walk outside went better for us.


We biked by Shwesantaw Paya on our way out for more photos. Things were pretty relaxed just after sunrise.


After breakfast, our minivan came with air conditioning and decent seats. A few locals and a monk sat up front and we always had an extra passenger hopping on or off. Once we made it to the Yangon-Mandalay highway things sped up. They even dropped us off close enough to our hotel.


Garden Hotel had okay priced rooms with shared bathrooms on the 5th floor. Once you lugged all of our bags up, it was hard to motivate yourself to say no and look elsewhere. We took the drab, clean room. The price of the room went up when we didn't have US currency to pay with.

We found a Shan restaurant after wandering the industrial district. We had a meal of potatoes, watercress and rice. It wasn't amazing, but it was better than having no vegetarian options.

Posted by Sarah.M 04:36 Archived in Myanmar Tagged bikes balloon sunrise bagan mandalay myanmar buledi dhammayangyi garden_hotel Comments (0)

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