Asia 2016 - Myanmar (Burma)

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August 19th 2016
Published: August 24th 2016
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Friday 19th August

Alarm clock went off at 7.30, quickly packed my stuff, took my passport from the safe and checked out. I popped in to 7 Eleven which is in Thailand, too. Got some sort of sandwich they micro waved for me. I crossed the street and took a cab to the airport. Even though traffic was quite busy we got quickly to the motorway. Then it took about half an hour to get to Don Mueang airport. Upon arrival I tried to check in outside the airport on one of those Air Asia machines. I was told that I am already checked in so I printed the tag even though I didn't have any checked luggage. I proceeded to the actual Air Asia sales checkout to double check if I need to queue. She said no so I carried on through the security.

My flight to Mandalay FD 244 with Air Asia was scheduled for 10.50. There was no delay as yesterday. I was quite surprised when they had an old school scales in front of the actual gate. The reason for that is that the weight limit is 7kg. The didn't checked me though. There were other flights to SE Asia from the same area, gates 1 to 5. All the gates were served by shuttle buses. One guy asked me if the place goes to Mandalay from this gate and that's how our conversation started. An American guy who lives in Bangkok was travelling to see his girlfriend in Bagan. Jonathan told me about his job in the financial sector and how he disliked it so he is going to change his career path at the age of 30.

Myanmar (formerly Burma), is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Myanmar’s complicated name issues stem from an equally complex history - we’re talking tribal rule and civil war, British Colonialism being replaced by a military government and, more recently, steps towards democracy. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country's largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century. This city is however not on my itinerary this time as this lovely website Selective Asia was not showing me very good forecast for the south of Myanmar. The Population is 48.7 million, area of 676,552 sq km and official language is Burmese. Major religion is Buddhism and life expectancy is 64 years. The capital city is Nay Pyi Taw.

One of the reasons why I chose to visit Myanmar is its history. It was long considered a pariah state while under the rule of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The generals who ran the country suppressed almost all dissent - symbolised by the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - and stood accused of gross human rights abuses, prompting international condemnation and sanctions.

A gradual liberalisation process has been under way since 2010. The country is expected to see a major shift after the government changed hands early in 2016. Under reforms introduced since 2011 by a new government, Myanmar has unblocked international news websites, emigre news websites and YouTube. In 2012, it lifted pre-publication censorship for the press and allowed privately-owned daily newspapers to publish.

The dominance of the largest ethnic group, the Burman or Bamar people, over the country's many minorities has been fuelling a series of long-running rebellions, although a gradual peace process yielded a draft ceasefire deal in 2015.

Htin Kyaw was sworn in as president in March 2016, ushering in the first democratically elected government into office after decades of military rule. Rightfully, the job belonged to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been the face of the pro-democracy movement and who endured decades of house arrest and harassment by military rulers without ever giving up on her non-violent campaign to unseat them.

Whatever the situation is it is very appealing to me so I decided to visit the second largest city. I landed in Mandalay at noon. The temperature was 30 according to the captain. I saw a lot of water from the plane so was worried about monsoons. The airport was rather small with very few shops, one tourist information desk, one ATM where foreigners were queuing and bus tickets booth. I exchanged my US dollars and got 230 000 Kyat (MMK) for 200 USD/ 4 800 CZK. The currency symbol is K.

We were thinking of getting a cab with Jonathan and share the cost but we had been approached by eager guys selling minibus tickets for just 4000 K which is like 80 CZK or 4 USD. I had contacted my hotel beforehand but they said the taxi would cost like 20 000 K. Anyway, I was down here to explore the real third world Asia.

I didn't get a chance to buy any water as there was only a coffee shop and the guy said that we are leaving in 5 minutes. The minibus was full of foreigners. Rather a slow ride because of bumpy road took us to the bus station in 30 mins. I have seen many signs of SE Asia on the way there. People with their cattle right outside of their shelters, stray dogs, people on very shabby scooters without helmets. I was overwhelmed as this was what I came for. I have already visited Cambodia in the past but had the feeling that this is going to be very different. Well what was written on Tripadvisor and other travellers blogs was that it is like other South East Asian countries 30 years ago!

I was wondering how I am going to get to my hotel that's why I watched the road names on the way there. Once we dropped off Jonathan at the bus station I could see roads numbered alphabetically. We were soon on the main 35th road. Once we reached 77th road the bus turned left to my excitement. What was even better it stopped in front of my hotel! The guy next to the driver looked at me and was wondering which was my bag that he had put at the front while boarding. I've just reminded myself what I read on one of the blogs. 'No matter how many remarkable sites you visit, the Burmese people you meet on a daily basis are THE highlight.'

Here we are in Golden Light Hotel which I booked through costs me 15 USD night including breakfast. This was the cheapest single room without a bathroom I found. Very welcoming staff asked me if I want a bed in dormitory but I told them I booked a single room. They looked through some notebook said something about being overbooked and then the porter took my bag and took me to room No. 407 by a lift and it was right next to the lift without a number on the door. My room is very tiny just a single bed and little shelf on the wall with some toiletries. Luckily it has some A/C otherwise it would have been unbearable.

Even though I was tired after my flight and busy itinerary I said to myself I should go out. A very friendly receptionist gave me a map and advised me to go around the corner to Diamond Plaza shopping centre or to the Chinese Night Market. I took the first left to the main road 78th. It was kind of filthy, rubbish on the streets. I walked for a bit while a number of guys on the scooters offered me a ride. The road didn't seem to have any convenient stores so I just jumped on a scooter on one guy and told him to take me to pagodas. He took me to Shwe Nan Daw monastery which was famous for its wood carvings. I paid 10 000 K/ 200 CZK for a ticket that allows access to 5 different archaeological sites. I admired this place and felt some sort of appreciation to those who built it. It was a very special place and I really enjoyed that. Obviously a full bus of Chinese tourists appeared and then you have lots of people taking pictures at the same time. I chilled a bit in this place and bumped into the couple that was sitting right next to me on the plane.

It was 5pm when I was leaving, there were closing this place. I walked to Atumashi monastery which was right next to it. A guy who approached me here waited for me while I was taking pictures of the local life. I wasn't keen as much on this monastery but rather on the local school right next to it. I walked around taking pictures while kids were smiling and greeting me. As I was told by my new driver Naytun, this school is for very poor children. They are taught by monks who also smiled at me. Very overwhelming experience especially a bit further when a group of guys were playing the game of Chinlone and they are apparently the second best in this all over the world. Chinlone is an indigenous sport that utilises a rattan ball and is played using mainly the feet and the knees, but the head and also the arms may be used except the hands.

Without a helmet he gave me a lift to another pagoda. Kuthodaw Pagoda is also called “the world’s largest book”, named after the 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. It lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and was built during the reign of King Mindon. It comprises of a gilded pagoda, hundreds of shrines housing inscribed marble slabs and several pavilions. The large grounds offer good views upwards of Mandalay Hill with its many temples and pagodas.

Once entering any kind of pagoda you have to take your shoes off. I therefore left my flip flops outside and went around all those hundreds of shrines with marble slabs. That was a very relaxing experience for me and I was grateful and happy that I can be here. Shrines were going quite far on both sides of pagoda so I just wondered around trying to avoid other tourists. It was also very meditating for me.

On the way out a lovely little girl with reasonably good English convinced me to buy some postcards. Even though I experienced that in Cambodia before I couldn't say no as she was very convincing. She had Thanaka on her cheeks which is a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar, seen commonly applied to the face and sometimes the arms of women and girls, and is used to a lesser extent also by men and boys. The use of thanaka has also spread to neighboring countries including Anyway, one handmade postcard was 2000 K, but she offered me a discount. 5 of them for 6 000 K. I was about to buy one but she said: ''You will make me very happy sir if you buy 5 postcards''.

I was walking out with 5 of them then. Nyatan was patiently waiting for me. He kept saying ''No problem'' when I said I took my time. He said the we need to go up to Mandalay hill as he wants me to see the sunset. It was a bit cloudy in the afternoon but the sun came out in the evening so here we go riding our motorbike all the way up on the bendy roads. I thought that it's not going to make it but we just managed. There was a charge of 1 000 K/ 20 CZK to enter the place which was ridiculous. I took some pictures as it was getting dark. A student named Patrick or Ye Man approached me and asked me what are my plans. I know this question very well. He was trying to get some business. He told me about the ancient city which is located outside of Mandalay and he offered me a very good price of 10 000 K/ 200 CZK for the whole day. I couldn't say no and kind of felt sorry because he has to pay for petrol, too. We agreed that he would pick me up at 9.30.

It was already dark when I went back. Nyatan was waiting for me and mentioned something like 6 000 K for the ride as only getting up the mountain usually costs 5 000K. I said we agreed on 3 000 K, but I eventually gave him 6 000 K as I reminded myself that he has 3 kids. Before dropping me off at Diamond Plaza department store we briefly stopped at Kyauktawgyi pagoda for some pictures. I was starving as I haven't eaten anything since the breakfast. It was not so easy to find better places to eat. I was a bit worried about diarrhoea but had no other choice so ended up in a kind of average place. They had Myanmar lager on tap which I ordered straight away after a long day. The menu was in very basic English so I ordered just Prawn Curry and didn't know what to expect. It wasn't a curry but rather pan fried vegetables with prawns. It seemed alright so I ate and and splashed it with another lager. I didn't get food poisoned straight away so I was really pleased. Never

Saturday 20th August

Woke up during the night several times as I could hear thunder storms. I didn't really fancy waking up so I just stayed in the room and tried to get some more sleep before my mate Patrick turns up. I went for breakfast on the 6th floor and had some noodles, some kind of deep fried fish or seafood and an omelette made by one of the ladies. There was one foreign guy with a bunch of Burmese people but only one of them could reply to him. On the way out he said to me: ''Good morning".

Someone knocking on my door just after 9am. A member of staff is saying that a have a friend downstairs. Patrick asked me what I want to do as it was raining heavily. He mentioned that he has a raincoat but I didn't really fancy it. I could see other people riding their motorbikes and holding umbrellas in their hands. You don't get anything like that in Europe! I went back to bed and tried to recollect some events from my Taiwanese trip as I haven't finished the blog yet. I said to myself in the afternoon that I don't really want to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I walked downstairs to get a better Wifi as it was very poor in my room. Full strength signal but it was still rubbish. A receptionist arranged a taxi for me for 15 000 K.

At 3.30 taxi driver picked me up and took me to Mandalay Palace. They close at 4.30 so we went directly. Heavy rain was pouring down when I was leaving the hotel. My taxi driver opened un umbrella for me and took me to his car Nissan. The steering wheel was on the right hand side which was different than the bus from the airport. He introduced himself as Mayo but I was not sure about the pronunciation. He is a cheerful bloke who asked me where I want to go. I wanted to go to the convenience store first but it was reasonable to go to the palace before that. We turned left to get to the main road 78th Road and went up to north towards the palace. Some people rode even their bikes and motorbikes in 30 centimetres deep water. It didn't seem to bother them as the monsoon season lasts for over two months. I was lucky enough that it was quite nice last night and I went to several places.

After the palace I visited Sandamuni pagoda with my mate. This pagoda is known for its large golden zedi, its hundreds of shrines containing inscribed marble slabs and the largest iron Buddha image in Burma, the Sandamani, after which it is named. Resembling the nearby Kuthodaw pagoda which I visited yesterday, the Sandamuni is also located on the foot of Mandalay Hill with good views of the hill and its monasteries. Surrounding the central pagoda are 1774 shrines, each housing a single marble slab. The slabs are inscribed with the teachings of the Buddha.

Each slab measuring 1.68 meters tall and 1.07 meters wide is enshrined in a small white shrine named Dhamma ceti. Dhamma being the teachings of the Buddha and ceti the Burmese word for chedi or stupa. The white shrines are topped with a hti, an ornamental spire shaped like an umbrella. The grounds are more cramped than the nearby Kuthodaw pagoda; little space is left behind the rows of Dhamma cetis.

I walked around them with my mate who was carrying the umbrella. The main parts were covered by the roof but I took pictures outside as well. Luckily, Mayo was holding the brolly for me as I had asked him before to come with me. We bumped into a young couple who just cheerfully replied to my: "How are you" and continued to hace their tea on the stairs. They even asked me I want some. The weather was not important for them at all. I soon got used to this weather.

The Sandamuni pagoda houses the largest iron Buddha image in Burma, named the Sandamani image. The image was cast in 1802 by Bodawpaya, King of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma. Made of almost 41,000 pounds of iron, it is now covered with a layer of gold.

Sunday 21st August

I woke up before my alarm clock went off at about 5.30. It wasn't raining so I could take a scooter to get to the place where my ferry to Bagan is departing from. I quickly brushed my teeth and saw how the sink pipe is actually finished behind the toilet and water was flowing on the floor. What a clever system! There was a hole in the corner so water from both pipes and shower could get out. Then I took a lift downstairs.

You could never tell if it's morning or night, the staff are always vigilent and willing to help. It was quite busy outside as well. I reminded them at reception that I need a ride. I waited for about 10 minutes and asked them again. Apparently the driver has forgotten. They tried to get someone else and then they got me a cab. I was charged only the fare for scooter which was 2000 K. That was very nice of them!

A bit sleepy bloke turned up at 6.30 with a typical smile. I double checked that he knows where we are going but he was told by the hotel staff, too. They actually all came outside with me and the lady said 'Have a nice day'. The level of customer care is just amazing here even though I was staying in one of the cheapest hotels for 12 USD night.

It took only about 10 minutes down the 35th road to approach the river. Then we turned right and my driver was looking for MGRG sign which is the company's name. There was a bunch of guys standing in front of a small booth. One of them checked my ticket and took me the boat. I suddenly felt like in this promotional video on Jedu do barmy website. They show a guy who is in a lovely resort and all the sudden appears somewhere on the river bank. I was presented with a very similar scene. There were two women washing some clothes and maybe even preparing some food. I've never seen anything like it before. There was a tiny bridge to a very shabby and old boat. I thought that this is not going to take us all the way to Bagan. Luckily, I was right I walked across two other boats before I got to one which was heading where I planned. I was told where to put my luggage and then went upstairs. Obviously, there were only foreigners in the boat. I overheard some Italian or Spanish.

I went to the back of the boat and took some pictures. There were only two wooden chairs so I asked that guy if I can sit there. "Sure" was the answer and we quickly started chatting about his job as a doctor working for Doctors Without Borders. He is a Chinese guys who has worked in many SE Asian countries as well as in Africa. I wanted to find out a bit more about the actual issues in Myanmar so I asked him. He works in a place north-west from Mandalay which is a zone that foreigners cannot enter. He says that only people who have a special permit can go there. That's what I've read on some blogs that border areas might be dangerous. I also asked a very good friend of mine Huyen from Vietnam about it but she got offended. I don't understand why because it's not her home land. Never mind, I need to be a bit more careful when asking about things like the safety in this region.

So here we are, my nef co-passenger is telling me about the tribes in this area. In the state called Kachin there are two tribes Jimphaw and Lisu. They are heavily armed and ready to fight the Maynmar military government. Apparently, the government wouldn't even go there. It's located in the mountains and from certain parts you can see even the Himalayas. He is based very close to the Chinese borders. He does his job for fun as he is running a medical clinic with his brother in China. The Chinese ancestors are called Han, they live in the Kokhan area. The biggest ethnic group Wa has about 35 000 soldiers. Monla tribe are based at Thai border. They all want to have their independence as they do not consider themselves Burmess, thus they fight against the government.

We got a breakfast in a fancy paper box. There was a boiled egg, a banana and two sweet pastries. I was really hungry so ate it all. They try a bit more with the hygiene especially when it comes to boat trips like this. It cost 42 USD which a lot of money for the locals. It includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. In comparison a train journey lasts over 10 hours but costs only 1 100 K (220Kc/ 9 USD).

The boat took us under the famous bridge that connects a famous ancient city Sagaing with the mainland. I plan to go there on Friday as I didn't manage to do so yesterday because of rain.

China has a significant interest here as they invest heavily in this region. However, other states including US want to have their stake, too. We will see what it's going to bring us in the future.

Before we set off I had seen another very old wooden boat leaving before us. Once we departed the Myanmar flag with three stripes and a star was flying at the back.

It seemed to me as safari tour when watching the locals and taking pictures of their daily routines.

The river bank raised before we reached Bagan. I spotted sign of the pagodas at about 3.45 and 5 minutes later we were told that we are arriving. It was actually shorter than I expected.

Baganor bureaucratically ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ is a beautiful ancient city located on the Eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River. It is home to temples dating back 1,500 years. One of Myanmar’s main attractions occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area, 118 miles south of Mandalay and 429 miles north of Yangon.

The area’s most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeast corner and that's where I am staying. Based on my experience in Mandalay I prefer to have my own room with toilet and working internet. I therefore found a really nice place rated 9.4 on Booking .com. Motel Zein cost me for 2 nights including breakfast 55 200 Ks/ 46 USD/ 1104 CZK.

I was kind of shocked when we were getting off the boat. A couple of short young guys jumped into the boat and they were helping people with the luggage. I grabbed my camera charger which I plugged in with my UK plug on the top deck. They helped us to get off the boat through a really narrow bridge, two people holding a wooden stick instead of railing. We all ended up on a muddy river bank and were instantly swamped by a group of people offering the ride to the town. Horses with carts, bikes and taxi cars in the mud were the first things I saw there. I was charged 25 000Ks for entering the zone from a bloke who came from his tiny kiosk with a shabby sign of Archaeological Zone on it.

One guy with his old school bike convinced me to follow him through the mud. We bargained about the price a bit, I didn't wan to give him more than 3 000 Ks, he was after 5 000 Ks. That bloke on his bike took me to Zein Motel.

The ride was thrilling. I was sitting on the side while we were riding on a muddy road. Some other backpackers took horses with cars or taxi, I was the only on on this sort of vehicle. It took just about 10 to 15 minutes to get to the hotel. I recorded a video of this unusual experience and paid him 4 000 Ks. A welcoming guy from the reception took my bag and I checked in. A very friendly receptionist spoke perfect English. I asked her where she learnt that and she said London! She even worked at Baker Street so we had a little chat about life in London. It was like 5ish so I wanted to visit only the closest pagoda.

It was a nice quite evening and I didn't want to waste time because I know that it gets dark at about 6.45. After a shower I went down to the reception and she gave me a map in black and white.. I just asked how to get to the closest pagoda. By coincidence it was Shwezigon Pagoda. It is one of the most sacred buildings in Myanmar and served as a prototype for later stupas which I didn't know at the time. It has been said that the king built it to enshrine relics such as a bone and a tooth of Gautama Buddha. Off we go, I was give instructions that it takes about 15 minutes to get there.

After exploring pagoda and surroundings I went back to get my sandals. I couldn't find them I thought someone took them by an accident. Why would such nice people steal my old sandals. All sorts of thought flooded my my mind. I sort of gave up and went back to those stools to buy new ones. Suddenly, I spotted my sandals next to the first shop. I was releived and headd towards the area where the restaurants supposed to be.

I finally found the shopping street with help of locals. Some random people just aksed me: "Where are you going?" They pointed that direction and I soon hit the main road. I checked one mobile phone shop ofr iPhone 4 case but they don't have it neither. I asked someone and he told me the street is around the corner.

It was the second right actually, it seemed a bit more reasonable with some decent restaurants. I was relieved again. I found a place with some foreigners which is always a safe bet Novel restaurant charged me 8 250 for 5 draught lagers and Green Chicken Curry. I got my 6th lager free of charge as usual. The food was OK but not as good as in Bangkok. I headed back to the hotel on the main road without street lights. Luckilly I was close to my hotel.

Monday 22nd August

I woke ut at 7.30 and went for a breakfast at 8.30ish. There were not many people but lots of them turned up right after me. What surprised me that some of them were wearing 'longyi'. Somehow, it’s the tourists who try to blend in who end up being the most conspicuous. Case in point: the Western man wearing a Burmese longyi. This is a single piece of cylindrical fabric (often cotton), which is wrapped and tied around the lower half of the body, forming what many Western men might call a skirt (you know, those things that GIRLS wear). Visions of western men wearing longyis call to mind that infamous episode in David Beckham’s fashion career where he was ridiculed for sporting a sarong (pretty much the forerunner of the longyi) in public. What made it a crime? He was English. Beckham might now be considered one of the great sporting ambassadors, not to mention a guy who is perennially lusted after by all women, men, and domestic pets, but he will never quite be able to shake off that chapter when the world had a giggle at his expense. You could become the next Beckham. In a bad way.

Afer breakffast I asked lady to get me a bicycle for the whole day. She said it would be ready in 15 minutes. It was an old rusty bike but I didn't mind for 1 500 Ks/ 30 Kc. Trekking from ruin to ruin requires traipsing through sand and soft dirt as I read so I wanted to see it myself.

Connecting the towns of Old Bagan where most of pagodas are and Nyaung U where I am based are paved roads making a 12-mile oval. In between and around these towns is the bulk of the Bagan action: the plain, featuring most of the temples, all connected with a vast network of bumpy dirt roads and trails.

About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated two miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition. One thing to keep in mind, particularly for travellers exploring the region, is that Bagan is most definitely not Siem Reap or even Luang Prabang. It's more of an overgrown village and lacks anything resembling a night scene, although it does have basic traveller amenities. Plan your partying somewhere else I read on the internet which was fine with me.

My first stop was Gubyaukgyi temple in Myinkaba Village. It is a Buddhist temple built in 1113 AD by Prince Yazakumar. It was just like 5 minutes on my bike. What I found funny was the bus full of elderly westerners who were wiping their feet with wet tissues after visiting this pagoda. The next one was right after it.

Gu Byauk Nge Temple was built by King Nadaungmyar in 1198 CE. The Temple is decorated with floral designs depicting flowers and animals inside. The stone inscription indicated that the land and the slaves villages were donated to the temples by the king. There were a few buidlings visible from the main road but I continued a bit further to find a little place without any tourists. There was a litle hut with a lady looking out because her dog was barking. I took some pictures and went even further to follow the path that not many tourists took before me. While I was amazed by grazing skinny cows and 2 blokes working nearby a guy on his little scooter went past. I followed that path as I could spot a couple of huts. I came across the first one with a very old lady in it. Another younger lady came back afterwards and I asked if it's OK to take pictures. They were fine even though they didn't speak English. The second building was where the guy on scooter lived. He allowed me to record video of his very simple house. Despite that there was loud music blasting from the speaker. I didn't have a clue where they get electricity from. That was a touching moment for me. I realised how such we have in Europe and might be still ungrateful.

It was getting really hot when I cycled a bit more. I decided to turn left because there were lots of pagodas wherever I looked. Due to the number, it is easy to find a quaint temple to explore where you are literally the only person in sight and that's what I was after. I ended up next to a hut with satellite dish on a wooden stick! I walked around in the heat which was unbearable about 34 degrees so I stayed in the shade. There were really tiny stairs up to the top but after spotting quite a big gecko I didn't fancy it. Nevertheless I was encouraged by the local so I went up and never regretted. The sheer quantity of this area is mind boggling and the variety is amazing. Such a beautiful view that I adored. I stayed there for a couple of hours just absorbing the stillness. A squirrel was having a munch on the other pagoda. I eplored a few more one of the reconstructed was 347.

Followed a monastery through a really muddy road, lady was about to sell me water for 400 and I thought she wanted 4000 Ks so I didn't buy! A silly me.

Sulamani was built in 1181 by Narapatisithu (1174-1211). This temple was known as "crowing jewel" and it stands beyond Dhammayangyi Pagoda. This temple is a more sophisticated temple than the Htilominlo and Gawdawpalin. I spent quite a bit of time there, downing a litre of water because feeling baked. One french girl asked me about directions and then I went around this pagoda. When I came out I bumped into my good old friend doctor fromthe boat. We had a proper chat, he was laughing when he saw my bike. He hired a car with the dirver instead. I aksed some austrians for sun lotion.

The cycling was a bit exhausting and inconvenient for the average tourist, but no problem for me. I was the only white guy for many hours before I spotted another one.

Dhamma yan gyi temple is the largest of all the temples in Bagan, the Dhammayan as it is popularly known was built during the reign of King Narathu. Narathu, who came to the throne by assassinating his father Alaungsithu and his elder brother, presumably built this largest temple to atone for his sins. I met a new friend Komyo there who collects money. He showed me all Czech Korunas apart from 2 Kc. I promised him to bring him some more tomorrow. He said people never come back.

I cylcled around and saw many people on the Shwesandaw Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in Bagan, Burma. The pagoda contains a series of five terraces, topped with a cylindrical stupa, which has a bejewelled umbrella. Bagan’s most famous sunset-viewing spot, the Shwesandaw is a graceful white pyramid-style pagoda with steps leading past five terraces to the circular stupa top, with good 360-degree views. I bumped into the docotor again. We got some nice pics of the sunset though.

On the way back I popped into ATM that didn't take my Czech debit card. I had to use my Halifax one from the UK. I returned bike and went to have a shower. I was nicely burnt according to my T shirt!

Rain restaurant was nice, only one table with tourists. I had 7 lagers and Prawn curry for 10 250. I left him the tip of 750. They way the leave the tip is the the waiter comes back with your change and waits if you give him something or not. This bloke took it back to the counter. I headed exhausted but happy to the hotel. Most likely one of the best days of my trip so far!


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