Wednesday 2 April 2014

Burma: Stupas, temples and cows

Mrs M's electric bike
Villager near Pwazaw village BaganMrs M cheeks glistened with excitement as we headed out of the hotel on electric bikes to visit some of the 2000 temples and pagodas of the former capital of the Kingdom of Pagan.

The bikes were heavy and difficult to steer in the deep sand tracks which would not have looked out of place in the Omani desert. We could have done with a bit more speed from the tiny engines, but judging by the distance between my knees and the handlebars, they were probably designed for smaller, lighter passengers.

Ox cart BaganAt one point, Mrs M shrieked as she fell off in front of a herd of cows that were being driven along a narrow path. The noise spooked one of the cows which jumped into the air and spun towards the rest of the herd. The farmer shooed the disturbed cows and goats along and helped Mrs M to her feet. Other cuts, trickles of blood and bruises were to follow, but despite a history of wounds and emergency medical treatment around the world, no serious injuries were sustained on this occasion.

Temple 629 - Bagan archaeological zone
After lunch, Mrs M sat by the pool nursing her wounds while I took the bike to a local stupa for a bit of a doodle. A couple of hours later, Mrs M woke up under an umbrella in a storm as I rushed back at full speed in soggy clothes.

Showered and smelling a bit sweeter, we went to the observation tower next to the hotel which harmoniously blends into the surrounding countryside (no it doesn’t). Still, the view across the Irrawaddy plains is superb, although the storm filled the sky with a single shade of grey instead of the blend of reds and oranges from the previous evening.

In Old Bagan, we found the Weather Spoons restaurant on Lanmadaw 3 Rd in Nyaung-U which lives up to its reputation for really good basic food. There was a steady flow of tourists who arrived by taxi, bike or horse and cart. At the end of the meal, the owner brought us a dish of delightful tamarind sweats which we finished while strolling along the road in search of our taxi back to the hotel.

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