The Central and South Plain, a huge festival and a terrible road crash to finish our stay - Day 4
Bagan Travel Blog› entry 248 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
It was slightly disappointing to eat our last breakfast at the Inn Wa Ga Hotel, as we didn't want to give up the food, or our room. If only we could have taken this place and Cheriland restaurant with us for the rest of our trip! Although we had heard that Ananda Paya had a 3 day festival beginning, to mark the full moon in the month of Pyatho, it wasn't enough to have dragged us out of bed for its 7am start, so we cycled down around 9am instead. It became immediately apparent that this was clearly a big thing for the locals, who were out in force and racing around like lunatics on their motorbikes. Rather than concentrating on the road, they were more interested in shouting at us and seeing how long they could look back at us and not in front of themselves, in an attempt to show just how cool they were.
Arriving at Ananda Paya there were more touts and beggars than ever. Cries of 'bon bon, pen, money' were emitted upon the sight of any foreigner. Frustratingly many of the foreigners had brought along sweets and pens to hand out and this just led to a frenzy of out thrust little hands and pleading calls. What annoys me is that these children spend all day begging and don't even go to school to need a pen, yet they get given dozens a day by well meaning tourists, who are too blind to see that the children just sell them straight back to the shop!
When i was in the favellas of Rio de Janeiro, our guide had set up a wonderful scheme teaching the children that begging was wrong and they should work for their money.
The festival itself seemed more like an auction, with monks stood on a podium looking for which baskets to accept next, and families handing over a whole bounty of offerings that they probably couldn't afford.
Already exhausted and having only been to one temple, our plan was to spend the day cycling through the Central and Southern Plains and taking in an array of temples on the way. Our journey took us initially to Shwesendaw Paya, which we had visited on the first evening, but never had a proper look around and then continued on to the pyramid shaped Dhammayangyi Pahto, where Julia steped on a huge thorn that embedded into her foot, even whilst she had her sandals on! Initially i tried to pull the thorn out, but it snapped, so I used my initiative and opened up a staple and used the pointed end to gouge it out instead.
Our next stop was Temple 761 followed by Sulanani, Thabiek Hmauk, Temple 820 and Pyathada Paya.
Sitting down at a small table in the courtyard, we noticed that the family also made and sold clothing and decided that now was as good a time as any to do a little bit of shopping. Julia bought a nice little top and soon we were eating a couple of portions of vegetable fried rice and slurping down a couple of star colas - Myanmars answer to Pepsi! Tin Swe Myint was Nyo Nyo Nwe's sister and the cook and after eating, she kindly explained to us about their peanut farm and the tobacco that the women all smoke.
Cycling off in sheer annoyance, i had lost all my spirit and just wanted to get the place over and done with.
SCREEEEEEEECH...... WHAM!!! After a motorbike carrying 3 young Burmese guys had just come hurtling past me, the man on a push bike infront of me began to make a left turn, whilst carrying his 2 very young daughters.
I jumped off my bike to see if there was anything i could do, but other than offer some water and make sure everyone was alive, it was pretty hard to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language.
That evening we dropped our bikes off the second we got home and decided to find a nearby restaurant on foot. Having not eaten a Western meal in some time, we chose somewhere a bit pricier, but sadly the quality was far worse than what we'd been eating for half the price in Cheriland 1. An hour of trying to get internet connection unsuccessfully was followed by witnessing a group of wannabe 'Hells Angels' tearing about the centre of Nyaung U. With three people on a bike, they were pulling wheelies and screeching their tyres. After what i had witnessed just a few hours ago i had a serious urge to go over and lay one of the ******* out. Thankfully we found a Cheriland 2 in Nyaung U and just like its big brother, they served up a wicked banana pancake to sooth my nerves.
I went to bed that night feeling thoroughly let down by the people who inhabit this area - from the crazy motorists to the never ending pestering from horse and cart drivers, taxi drivers, trishaw drivers, painting, laquerware and postcard sellers, money changers and so on and so forth. If it hadn't been for Inn Wa Ga and Cheriland then i don't think i could bring many positives from this place. To be honest, the temples were ok and the sheer number of them was obviously impressive. But sadly most look like modern recreations after the earthquake destroyed a lot of the original structures. Added to this the lack of any peace and quiet whilst looking around many of them, i can only conclude that I found the whole situation a hassle. Certainly Bagan would not be somewhere that i would recommend anyone going out of their way to see, give me the temples at Angkor, Ciudad Perdida, Macchu Picchu, Sukothai or any range of others that i could care to mention, any day of the week!