Well, I am now on the bus to Bagan. The bus is a long distance bus. The passengers are given a bottle of water and a pack of snacks for the journey. There is even smelling salt should one fell nauseous. This bus is a direct bus and does not stop for refreshment breaks. The bus has a toilet. The passengers sleep all the way through to the destination.
Upon reaching the destination, the tour guide, or rather the driver, fetch me to go to the first sight-seeing destination. This was pre-arranged while we were in Yangon. It is still dark. It is a long drive to reach the tourist area. There is an admission fee for all tourists. There is a toll-collection, so all busses and cars that carry tourists have to stop and all the tourists need to pay the entrance fee of 25,000 Kyats. This is the pass that I must carry with me while I am there to show proof that I have paid the tourist fee. The pass is valid for around a week.
I am taken in the dark to visit the first temple, Shwezigon pagoda. The pagoda was built in the 12th century. It is dark and I cannot really make out a lot of things, suffice to say that the monks and the early devotees are there already.
After that we drive to Irrawaddy river to go across it to see another temple. The whole purpose of the early journey to the see the sunrise over Irrawaddy river. So we hire a boat to cross the river. The boat hire costs 20,000 Kyats. The sunrise is beautiful.
After crossing the river, we take drive up to a temple on the hill-top. It cost 17,000 kyats It takes about 30 minutes to reach Tenchirun pagoda. The journey passes through a remote area and the road is somewhat like dirt road. This is a poor region and there are many thatched houses around. There are a few stops or stalls along the way selling refreshment and fresh flowers as offerings in the temple. The pagoda is situated on the top of the hill.
One can see the majestic view of the hills from the pagoda. The pagoda/temple is beautiful.
Then, we return to the jetty, cross the river and visit another temple, Lowkananda Pagoda.
There are steps leading to the river from the temple.
I then visit a palm sugar factory, which is actually a cottage industry. It shows how the palm sugar is made. There are several varieties of the palm sugar sweets for sale, such as sesame, ginger and tamarind. I bought some.
The next destination is the old part of the city where there is a temple that goes up the hill. It is not in the main tourist map. It is called Tuyin Taung Pagoda. Of course, one needs to pay the entrance fee. On top of that, there is a fee for storing your
shoes. There are a lot of monkeys in the there. The monkeys are a bit aggressive, but not as aggressive as the ones in the Penang Botanical Gardens. One of them tries to snatch an offering from a devotee. On the way up, there are loads of cleaners and sweepers cleaning and sweeping the stairs as the monkeys soil the place. So you will be asked for a donation for them doing that. That happens along the whole stairs. I try to avoid the first few times, but then I am not able to avoid that, and I have to pay some money. So I climb up again. When I meet the next sweeper, I smile and say that I have already donated. Mind you, walking barefooted, one can actually step on the monkey poo, if the place is not swept. So I think I got that sorted.
Further on the way up, there is sort of landing and there is a little table where I need to pay another fee to get up. There are some books about the history of the country and the temples. So I pay the fees, or, rather, a donation and proceed upwards. It is quite steep. Up at this level there are not so many people and I d not see any sweeper. But then the monkey poo is not swept away. So I need to navigate carefully. The view from the top is magnificent.
On the way to the van, I buy strawberries as snacks and the driver takes me to the hotel.
I have a shower and then decide to have a stroll along the street, which is the place where tourists stay. The whole stretch has restaurant and bars. I decide to go a restaurant that looks decent and I order a plate of Chinese noodles. It is delicious.
There isn’t much to do being alone and so I went back to retire.
The day has been filled with visits to temples, and by now I am not sure which temple is which!! I think I need to do something different like shopping.
That’s all for now, and until the next post!
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