I decided that motorcycle taxis are not that bad, I just need to relax and "go with the flow."
So I found my faithful driver, Mario (he did tell me his name, but at the moment I've forgotten), and his velvet covered motorcycle seat, and off we went to Kyaikmaraw, a small town about 15 miles from Mawlamyine. This time I could watch the scenery, as the helmet was a bit smaller and didn't slip over my eyes as happened on the first ride.
I enjoyed the palm tree lined road, the paddy fields--now mostly brown, patches of green where farmers tended cabbage or beans, and the beautiful Mon houses. Everything zipped by, and I hesitated to ask him to stop so I could take a photograph because it felt as if the rhythm of the scene would be destroyed.
After 40 minutes we pulled into town, where I explored a major temple. The primary Buddha is seated with his legs dangling, an unusual pose. The usual Buddhas filled the inner temple. They glistened and smiled, and felt so calm about life. People sat on the floor and prayed; one man began chanting, which echoed in that vast
With legs dangling
chamber. Glass studded columns made the sunlight dance.
I found several men polishing a brass Buddha. It seemed strange, as Buddha received his coat of chemicals that left dark smears all over him. The men polished vigorously, rubbing his chest, face, arms. Nearby a small Buddha lay on the ground; his feet were separated from him. I suppose they would get a separate buff job.
After exploring, I wandered the backstreets in the town, admiring the charming wood houses, saying hello to young kids, smiling at people going about their daily work.
Then my driver and I went to the grubbiest tea stall, with uneven brick and dirt floor, tiny low tables and tiny low plastic chairs. A group of men was gathered around a table, smoking, drinking, and laughing. I stirred my tea with about an inch layer of sweetened condensed milk on the bottom. My driver pointed out that I didn't stir it all in. It was barely drinkable, as it was so sweet. They brought the tea snacks, all deep fried, of course. Long doughnut things, round doughnut things containing I have no idea what, and strips of deep fried something with a sweet
icing slathered all over. I started eating a long doughnut thing, but Mario had to tell me that I was supposed to dip in into the tea.
I showed the young boy there how to use my camera so he could take my photo. He finally got the hang of it. His mother emerged from somewhere, and I learned about her six children.
I didn't want to eat or drink anymore, so we returned to Mawlamyine. Same palm trees lining the road fluttered in the sun, and I suppose the same people were out working in the fields.
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