Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 84 - Bagan Temples Part 2

I decided to take another route today through Bagan to see some more temples. It was one of the less traveled routes south of Nyaung U and through some of the more difficult and dusty dirt roads. I must have seen only 3 other tourists on bikes cycling through the trails, one of whom I met on the boat ride from Pokkoku to Bagan. This would be the third time in three days that I saw him at a random temple!

I started my biking trek at noon, probably the worst time to start as the sun was bright and the sky was cloudless today compared to yesterday. It was quite a workout, although this was all alleviated by random stops in the temples, where the air was cooler and the breeze flowed through the passages.

After seeing temple after temple, I arrived at a small village called Min Nan Thu. The only electricity they had in the village was powered through batteries similar to those used in cars. The villagers were friendly and one of the men asked if I was interested in purchasing some bronzeware. I told him it would be too heavy to carry around, so he asked if I had any extra tee-shirts to barter with. I asked him why everyone seemed to want tee-shirts and he explained that Myanmar produced bad quality tee-shirts and everyone wanted clothing outside of the country since it would last longer and wouldn't stretch out so quickly.

I was given a tour of the village, where much of it is self-sustaining. They make their own cotton and clothing, sesame and peanut oils, horse-cart wheels, and cigars among other things. The main crops they cultivate are peanuts, sesame, and various legumes.

At around 6:30pm, I decided to head back to the last temple I visited yesterday so that I could catch the sunset. It was anti-climatic since the sky was full of clouds in the distance near the horizon, so there wasn't much of a sunset to see. I met my sand-painting friend again and he said:

“My friend, the sun is going down so my prices are going down!”

I jokingly asked him if it would be free at around midnight and he replied:

“Price goes back up because the moon goes up!”

He later explained that the sunset hasn't been up to par lately because there hasn't been much rain in the area, which has also affected their farming.

He successfully sold a sand painting today, after 4 days of nothing, so that was a good way to end the day, although it would have been better if he had sold more. I asked him why he didn't become a motorbike tourguide since he had a motorbike and was a very personable and talkative individual, but he said that the government made it illegal for any foreigner to ride a motorbike in the city. I find that ridiculous, since it limits his opportunity to make some money on a talent he obviously has. It might be to limit how much access foreigners have to the country, but it ends up hurting the locals as well. I took a motorbike in Mandalay, but he said it was still illegal for me to do so...

We parted ways at the end of the night, but he said:
“See You Later Alligator!”

Instead of “Goodbye” because he hoped to see me again either in Bagan in a year, or at the White House in the United States... I wish him the best of luck and to hope to meet with him again.

Making Cotton

...and Cigars

Nearing Sunset in Bagan

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