Category: Myanmar, 2013

Close Shaves and Alms

January 25

After buffet breakfast, we are picked up by Dee Dee and driver and we head to the market at Nyaungoo. This is the largest market in Bagan and is more interesting than the one we went to a couple days ago, catering more to locals, less to tourists. That does not mean that there are not tourists around, but there are fewer spots aimed at them. Most places we go have street people selling postcards, copies of George Orwell’s book on Burma, hand drawn pictures by children and other things. And, while there are occasional beggars, begging is not widespread. As we weave around the market we see many nuns walking through, receiving alms in their bowls from people. This is not considered a form of begging, but the obligation of people to support.






We go to visit two more temples. The first, Sulamani Temple, was built in the 12th century and has murals done in the 18th century.

The second, Dhamriayangyi, is the largest in Bagan and looks something like a pyramid. It has particularly fine brickwork; one can’t fit a pin between the bricks. It was built from 1163-65 by King Marthu. Like most of the buildings, the temple was damaged in the earthquake of 1975 and has been restored.

At this point, we are about temple/pagodaed out. In part this is because Dee Dee is not a fount of information about these places. She is as much a companion, and a delightful one, as a guide. To be fair, though, even if she were a fount, there’s a limit to what we can/wish to absorb. I’m certain that Dotty’s friend knows infinitely more, but, since we might well not have understood what he had to say, I think we’re a lot better off with Dee Dee.

En route to the Lawkananda Monastery, we encounter another group of young monk and nun initiates on horse back, and get out of the car to follow them a ways.




At the monastery, we see monks having their heads shaved and bathing. They line up for lunch with their bowls, local volunteers dump rice into the bowls as the monks pass and then they sit down on the ground at circular tables to eat in complete silence. A great treat for us and, surprisingly, except for one other couple that arrives mid-meal, we are the only visitors.







We drive to a lacquer store that the Feldmans had recommended, but don’t like either the work or the prices as much as the place we stopped yesterday, Mya Thit Sar, so we make a return visit. After considerable back and forthing, Carol makes a deal for ten very attractive bowls, each different, and negotiates a third off of the price, rather than the 5% discount the owner offered at first.

From there, we drive to Phwarsaw Village, where there are no other visitors. In fact, there are almost no other people, as most have gone to Bagan for the festival. Still, it’s interesting to walk around and see how people live. Most have bamboo dwellings, but “the rich people” as Dee Dee calls them, have plaster dwellings and water. We meet and talk with a few people, then have lunch served to us under a tamarind tree, with men fanning away the flies. It’s a special arrangement that Thiri has made for us. At lunch, we see Dee Dee’s wedding picture album, which she has brought at our request. She looks beautiful, but incredibly serious, in most of the photos. Several photos in the album are of Dee Dee and her husband with tourists who happened in on the wedding. I’m sure that Carol and I play similar roles in weddings in India.



Back to the hotel for rest, blogging and picture downloading. We confirm tomorrow’s flight, arrange for a late check out and wait in the lobby for Dee Dee to drive us the very short distance to the river below our hotel where we have a private boat that takes us out to see the sunset. Talking to Dee Dee, we learn that her father manages a popular restaurant on the river, and her mother runs a souvenir shop there. At our request, Dee Dee says that she will meet us for lunch at the restaurant tomorrow.

We return to the hotel to clean up, having decided to eat at the hotel again tonight. Spring rolls and apple crumble again.

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