A monk and his mysterious medicine...
Pindaya Travel Blog› entry 9 of 27 › view all entries
6.30 am. Aart-Jan comes in, waking up everybody who is still asleep. This wasnâ€™t the best of nights, it was cold and our matrasses were extremely thin (a blanket folded twice is at least as comfortable) and some of our group are terrible snorers.
We have breakfast around 7 oÂ´clock, outside. The temperature still being somewhere near zero degrees Celsius, makes this a chilly experience, and everyone is waiting for the moment the sun throws its first light over the mountains. As soon as this happens, the ice on the rooftops starts to melt and the dripping of water can be heard all around. The sunlight, however, isnÂ´t strong enough to affect our butter, which remains hard as a rock, making it almost impossible to use.
At 7.30 am it is time to say goodbye to the abbot, and Aart-Jan makes a donation in name of the group, to support the monasteryÂ´s work. After taking a group photo we start our descent, back to Pindaya. In the first half hour of the walk we pass lots of patches of grass that is still covered with hoar frost, but when sunlight touches them they rapidly subside.
It doesnÂ´t take long before some of us start picking up the pace and soon the close group has turned into a stretched, interrupted line of individuals and couples. Once again Trudy and I arenÂ´t forerunners, we stay near the carriers that close the line (I bet they know the way as well as the ones in the front) and take in the surrounding area.
We walk through another village where an ethnic minority lives, I forget the name the moment I here it, but they have got the cutest children here. A little further down the road we see a woman baking pancakes in a stall on the bank of the trail. We order some and my stomach, already having digested this mornings breakfast (white toast with jam), makes a summersalt for joy at the shear look at them. The pancakes are made of sweet sticky rice and I like them a lot. Some of our fellow hikers canÂ´t eat all of theirs and give them to me, in order to keep up my strength I eat them all gratefully.
About half an hour closer to Pindaya we see a stall where a girl sells bamboo filled with sticky rice.
Well before noon we come by a monastery where a monk is about to ring the bell for lunch, the last meal of the day. We are getting close to the village now, and just before we reach the first houses Trudy spots a butterfly somewhere near the road, that I and the two guides simply cannot find. After a thorough explanation we see the little creature at at least ten metres from the road side, between the leaves on a branch. I think IÂ´ll call her Hawkeye from now on...
Because of our quest for the butterfly we are five minutes later in the hotel than everyone else, but we still get a decent room, that is clean and adorned with little orchids.
We decide to have lunch in the first restaurant we see when we walk towards the village centre, itÂ´s called Memento. It has a cosy interior, but the food is of mediocre quality and the prices are rather steep. Rudolf and Anne, who have joined us a few minutes after we sat down, agree on our verdict.
When we are done eating Mick gives us the tip to check out the monastery and the pagodas. This means we have to walk to the other side of the village, but we feel that our feet are up to taking us there, thus we do not linger. Pindaya is a village situated around Botoloke lake, so there are not too many options going from one end to the other.
We get to a pagoda with a small open door and Trudy looks inside. Thereâ€™s a monk giving a scalp massage to a woman. Immediately she is invited in, and I must come in too, of course. We cannot communicate, they donâ€™t speak English, but we feel more than welcome. We get some kind of powder, poored onto our hands from a small plastic bag, that we have to eat (according to their gestures). It tastes a bit like sal-ammoniac, but not quite. It takes a while, but we are able to find out that it is some kind of Burmese medicine, what disease the powder cures remains a mystery. We get four of the little bags as a gift and then we are offered some lukewarm tea in a cup that doesnâ€™t look extremely clean. Itâ€™s a risk, but we cannot refuse now. We take some time to look around, make a little donation (1000 Kyat) and get back into the sunlight, after saying goodbye of course.
We are hardly outside when Trudy spots a woman that is frying beans in an open shack between the pagodas, less than ten metres from where we got our â€śmedicineâ€ť. In a split second the lady gives us a plate of beans and another lady comes running to give us a spoon. When asked if I want a plate as well, I thank her kindly, telling her that Trudy and I will share. The beans are really nice, but they seem to blow up in our stomachs, and when the plate is empty we are completely stuffed.
On our way back we take a little detour over the market that is about to end and then slowly we stroll in the direction of the hotel. When we hear someone calling we see four people from our party, that come from the province Limburg, sipping their Dagon beers in a bar on the right hand side of the road.
We are overtaken by Ton and Judith, who have rented bicycles. They offer us a lift, but considering the state the bicycles are in, it seems very wise to refuse.
We take a short break in our room and then have diner at the Green Tea Restaurant on the bank of the holy lake. Normally they close at 7.30 p.m., but they are willing to stay open as long as there are guests. There is a power out in Pindaya, and everything is dark, but as soon as we set foot on the premises an employee meets us, telling us that if we have a little patience heâ€™ll fire up the generator. We get a fantastic table on the terrace, looking out over the lake, lit only by some candles and the full moon in the sky. The service is great and the food very tasty.
It is past 7.30 p.m. when we leave, and at that time Evert and Aart-Jan walk in, so the staff canâ€™t go home yet, but we call it an early night.