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  Bagan  |  12.06.2008
 
 

We woke up and looked out the window to see the horse and cart guy and the painting boy waiting for us outside the guesthouse. It was only just 8am....they want to make sure we don't sneak out and they miss their sale. We eat a nice br e akfast of fruit and toast and eggs and then get the full sales force of the painting guy. We negotiate with him and end up with $38 worth of paintings. I can't quite believe we have spent over a days budget on paintings - but they are really nice and there is no way we could get such nice things for that price back in KL. We pay up and jump onto our horse and cart. It is really fun trotting through the streets making our way round all the temples. For Lesh the novelty wears off after 10 minutes when he realises that the guy doesn't want to go off road and down to some obscure temples with the horse. We accept this fact and visit all the main temples with him, deciding that we will rent some bikes again to see the more random temples ourselves.

I 'd love to be able to tell you exactly which temples we went to - but so many are not in the book so we have no idea either! The horse guy was knowledgable and took us to all wonderful places making sure we didn't miss any big ones. To be honest the temples are not as grand when you see them close up. The ones we thought were going to be amazing cos we had seen them from far away and they looked so magnificent and grand..looked quite ordinary once we were up close. Our favourite temples were the ones that you can climb up and get a panoramic view from - which were usualy the smaller ones. We did love the Ananda temple inside which was quite ornate. On each wall facing NSEW were huge Buddha statues which looked so imposing. The only downside to every temple was the sellers who came to pester you. I believe that because it is so quiet and there are absoluetly no tourists here they are a lot more hardcore than normal. If there were other people around I am sure we could just say no and they would move on and pester someone else. The thing is...they all had heartbreaking stories. They were outright telling us that they had not seen anyone to sell to for weeks and they were desperate. How can you say no to that? They are right when they say that $4 is nothing to us but for them they can eat for a week. We felt stupid that we had bought so many paintings off the first guy in the morning. We could have spread the wealth and everyone would have been happy. In the end we ended up with 10 paintings since we found it so hard to say no to them.

At 12pm we went to one more small temple and who should we see but the guy from last night who showed us the way to the sunset temple. He was so happy that we had come to visit his home even though we had ended up there totally by accident! He too k us down some randon small alleys and deep into the village to his ramshackled house. He lived there with his 5 sisters as his mother and father had died. You could see the bits of tools and equipment that they used to make the laquerware lying around. One of his sisters got to work showing us how they make a condiments pot..something to hold and serve peanuts and the such like. It was amazing to see. The whole thing is made up of thin strips of bamboo. It is all interlocked and no glue is used, yet it is so strong. It took her just 20 minutes to make the whole pot. Of course the whole point of us coming was so we would buy direct from them. But since they had been so hospitable and kind to show us the process we were not bothered. Plus their stuff was nice! We bought 3 little holdall pots for ourselves and a tray which we thought Lesh's mum might like. What we really wanted was the tray thing we had just watched her make. She thought it was strange that we should want an unfinished product but when we told her that when we look at it we would always remember visiting them...well she let us have it for free. Insisting no payment since a little piece of her was off to Malaysia! We gave them a bit of extra cash since the prices they quoted seemed so reasonable and everybody was happy.

By that time it was 2pm and we were starving. We went for lunch in a nice place in Old Bagan. Of course we were the only ones there. We had wanted to go for a swim in a hotel nearby to cool down. But they wanted to charge $10 for use of the pool so we didn't bother. In the afternoon we saw more temples and surprisingly we were not all templed out. Each temple is different from the next so there is always something new and interesting to see. The final place we went for sunset was wonderful. It looked like an old outhouse rather than a temple. It was a plain square building and it is quite clear that no one ever goes there. It had a flat roof which had spectacular views of the sunset and all the main pagodas around. Of course the bonus was that no one came near us and we could enjoy it in peace. It was a fantastic sunset too. The sky turned bright orange. At one point there was even a rainbow over one of he pagodas. We tried to catch it on camera but I am not sure we got it. But it is forever imprinted in my brain.

By the time we got back it was dark. We were so tired from a full days sight seeing but we were also starving. We walked round trying to find somewhere nice to eat but we ended up at the indian place again! The owner had drunk a bottle of whiskey and was totally pizzled (drowing his sorrows at no customers that night?!) They quickly set a table for us and set about cooking up a feast. We left absolutely stuffed on vegetable kurma, chicken tikka masala, rice and chappatis.

Lesh has gone out to watch the Germany game - but I am way too tired to get up and watch them lose! So I am off to sleep!

 

 
 
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