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Published: October 27th 2017
Ko Mauk Lake sunrise
We were the only people at the mound, probably because it faces West for sunset!
I started my morning at 4:30 having booked a taxi to take me to Ko Mauk Lake where they have built one of the new viewing platforms. It actually faced West hence we were the only ones there. First views were of temples illuminated in the dark but getting into the area was rather disorientating and I’m unable to name which they were. Of course it was dark and best for me, full of wildlife, a squirrel insects and many birds. Win, the driver knew the names, Later my guide Nang told me that books on these are very expensive.
It was amazing to see how close all the temples are although it is not easy to go between them as there are areas of scrub and the tracks / paths twist and turn and end up in a completely different place to where we thought we were heading! I do know that Sulamani and Dhamma-yangyi were near as they are quite distinctive even in the gloom and once my photos were seen on a larger screen I realised I’d looked at South Gunni because I could see tourists on it watching the sunrise and used a map and Google
images to work out which it was. Win noticed another viewing mound that he suggested might be better for seeing the sun actually rise behind Pythador pagoda but as we drove around a track we realised that it was behind us and probably needed to walk across the scrub but of course the sun was not waiting for us so I took shots with it coming up beside the temple. More fascinating were local people walking on another track and spider webs in the bushes.
Without climbing to higher viewpoints it was still quite a magical experience and I am probably one of the few who saw the reflection of early sunrise in Ko Mauk Lake.
We returned to the hotel in the glimmering morning light. Win noticed a girl walking along the side of the road and offered a lift but she refused with quite a miserable face. I wonder what was going on with her?
After breakfast I met my guide, Naing, who’d brought a couple of the electronic scooters to the hotel. I was late greeting her as I’d laundry to sort and immediately said I had my doubts about the scooters. Willing to
try, I went out to the bike, started it and as I accelerated promptly tipped it over! Apart from bruising my shin there was no harm done but clearly it would not work for me to have one for 2 days. Zfreeti hotel had e-bikes, motorised pedal bikes, and it was arranged for me to have one. Over an hour late we finally set off.
Naing’s plan was to see several pagodas en route to Old Bagan - the tour stated that we’d see the lesser known ones but after Htilominlo and a group called Khay-min-gha, she wanted to go to Anando which is actually one of the most famous. I never did bother with it.
In Htilominlo there were 11th and 13th century Buddhas and Naing pointed out the original brick layouts that were designed to withstand earthquakes. After the 1976 earthquake, it is apparently the concrete repairs in the 1980s that suffered the most damage in 2016. As well as not being authentic they damaged much of the evidence from earlier centuries and this is one of the reasons the area has not been given UNESCO world heritage status.
On the way out of the
Sulamani at sunrise
This pagoda is currently closed due to earthquake damage in Aug 2016
temple Naing asked me to watch how the sand paintings are created and I felt obliged to buy from the artist who showed me. I have not looked at it since!
At Khay-min-gha, the group gave some good photo opportunities including my first chance to snap an ox-cart. We met a family with a young lad who’d been given £5 as a tip by someone. That was rather thoughtless as he’d be unable to change it so I swapped it for 10000 kyat which was an excellent exchange rate and would feed him a couple of meals.
At this point Naing wanted to continue Anando but my bike was very low on power as identified by the lad and I just wanted to go home. The road from there was much busier and I had to pedal pretty hard a lot of the way. I did take some photos from the road, including a rather distressed cow lowing because her calf had run off, scared by a truck blasting its horn. The owner tied her to a tree and explained that the villagers were out looking for the calf.
Naing asked whether I’d like to stop at
Tourists have climbed the temle to watch the sunrise. I sincerely hope this will be banned due to the damage it causes to the ancient bricks.
the Lacquer shop but I’d had enough so we went back to the hotel for a refreshing drink.
I had a much needed rest and checked out the times of the Post Office and the banks opening because this was the first chance I had to send any cards and to change money. As it happens I only sent two postcards to Mum and Thomas and I changed the rest of my money at the KZB bank. The rate was slightly lower than I'd got at Yangon Airport but I could not afford to go any longer without cash. Later in the evening I walked around the local streets there were many restaurants near to the Zfeeti, .and pagodas amused me being among the shops and houses that had been built around them. I wandered the night market and bought a longgi from a lady with a young baby she called Poo Poo.
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