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Sunset over the Temples

It was so nice to wake yesterday and not have to worry about getting in the car and drive to a new town.

After a leisurely breakfast and start to the day Mr Tin our guide picked Julie and I up for a tour around the Bagan area. We started with a Stupa, while visiting all these temples and stupas I’ve learnt so much about the Buddhist religion and how it is so varied from country to country.

From this stupa we visit the town market, which is the hub of fruit, veg, meat, fish and all sorts of other stuff. The fruit and veg was probably the best quality we have seen in any market this trip. However I struggle with the concept of all the flies on the chicken and fish, I guess you just need to hope it is cooked well enough before we eat it.

The next stop was a temple before going to a local rural village to see how life worked in it. At one house we watched as peanuts are ground for the oil using a wood grinding press with an ox walking in a circle for 1.5 hours to make 2.5 litres of oil.

The visit to the workshop making Bamboo boxes and artefacts from split bamboo before being lacquered with natural lacquer was most interesting. This was very hard to explain in words sorry.

Lunch was at a restaurant overlooking the Irrawaddy too the flood plain with the mountains in the distance. Sort of like the Bagan version of lunch overlooking the ocean.

After a couple more temples we returned to the hotel for a break from the heat and a rest ready for the afternoon trip to sunset over the temples.

The afternoon sunset trip included a even more temples on the way, which I must say has been very interesting in the way that the construction and style varies so much in a 200-year period all worshiping the same thing.

The sunset over the temples is some thing that I think every tourist to Bagan does because every temple with a view had people on it for the sunset which was most enjoyable before returning to the hotel for dinner accompanied by dance and a puppet show.

Just noticed that on my last post Apple auto correct change the name of Bagan to begin sorry.


The City of Temples.

We have arrived in the city of temples Bagan. It is said that there was 10,000 Temples and Pagodas on this plain but only 2200 still exist. I will be able to tell you more about this next post.

2 days ago we left Kale for what was reported to be a 10 to 12 hour drive to Monyma. The main road was in very poor condition and using local knowledge we went the longer way around by continuing down the same valley we had follow the afternoon before.

There was evidence of the massive flood that had come down the river early in the year with bridges washed out and debris in trees indicating that a lot of people had been displaced and had there homes inundated.

All down the valley the rice harvest was well underway, with this process still being a total hand harvesting operation with most of the rice then hand threshed before being dried fully on woven mates on the side of the road or anywhere flat and clean with a lot of sun. A few lucky people got the threshing done by small engine driven Threshers.

After following this river for about 3.5 hour we headed east to our destination over I think 3 sets off mountains before crossing one of the big tributary’s of the Irrawaddy River into Monyma. Luckily the drive was only 8.5hs so we while Julie ducked down the street for the local Myanmar dress to wear for the time here.

Yesterday’s travels took us firstly to the temple with 500,000 images of Buddha then on to the largest standing Budda in Myanmar. We had seen this Buddha 40k across the plains yesterday before we got to town. This site is a collection of several large Budda statues in different poses, lying on the side and on the back plus the construction site for a second large standing Buddha even taller.

At the standing Buddha we were able to climb the 20 odd storeys to the top level. A view didn’t exist due to the window needing a clean, But I guess that the Buddhist visitors don’t do the climb for the view but for spiritual reasons. The climb was great as it’s the first real exercise Julie and I have done on the trip due to time constraints and weariness.

Leaving the temple site we pulled up down the road in a very small village for a cuppa and a visit to the village. This had a outside school for extra studies on the public holiday. The way village life worked was most interesting with both communal and individual farming.

All through Myanmar people have a cream of some sort on their face, yesterday lunch Julie found out more about it and tried some. The cream is a natural produce made from grinding up the bark of a special tree on a stone plate with a little water before appalling to the face to be used for both sun protection and a skin cream.

Most of our travel yesterday was in farming land that is above the monsoon flood level. It is really evident what the floods have on the soil nutrients levels and the crops. Down on the flood plains the crops looks very lush from the regular fertilising received with the flood slit. Most of the crops above the flood levels are looking very poorly and hungry. In these areas we saw a lot of ads nailed to trees for Fertilizer and Chemicals and we saw no ads on the flood plains.

We crossed the Irrawaddy River yesterday, which is one of the big rivers of Asia that’s stars up in Tibet along side the Mekong and the Yangtze.

We arrived in Begin mid afternoon ready for our rest day and temple visiting today.

India to Myanmar 2 different worlds.

Our departure from Imphal was early so as to get out of town before the traffic and travel the 130ks to the border. This was a 4-hour trip, as we need to stop at 3 army checkpoints on the way, checking that we belonged there and had all the correct paper work for the trip. The Indian army has a huge presents along the Myanmar border and in Manipur state.

Once we reached the border it was only about an hour and all the carnets were sorted and we where in Myanmar with our guide for the trip Mr Tin Tun.

After a great lunch was sourced at a local bar we headed off on the journey to the hotel in Kale.

It hard to describe how much things can change by just crossing a bridge over a river with a gate either side. The housing, farming, people, and the crops are so different you’d think that the bridge was a couple hundred miles long.

Regularly along the side of the road are make shift camps full of people plus a couple of towns had large tent villages like refugee camps. Tin told us that the tent people are all the people that lost there home during the last monsoon with a big flood. There is evidence in the power lines on how high the flood went. Makes the Brisbane floods look like a spilled bath.

Tomorrow is reportedly a 12 hour drive for the 400ks so most likely no post.

2 Pit Stops Today.

We awoke in Kohima this morning to find that we where in a lot hiller town then we had expected after our arrival in the dark.

Breakfast in the dinning room was as funny as dinner the previous night. We were the only 4 people in the restaurant so it quite eerie with the staff standing around ready to pounce and do something to fight of their boredom. Actually we were the only guests in the hotel.

After breakfast we got driven to the WW2 cemetery at the site of The Battle of the Tennis Court. This was the battle that started turning back the Japanese invasion into India in 1945.

We set of for the Manipur state border to meet our guide for the transit across to the Myanmar border. This is the first state border were I’ve ever had my passport stamped.

Pit Stop 1

While waiting at the border to meet our guide I noticed a puddle of oil under the car behind the engine. A quick look and the oil hose to the top of the motor was chaffed and weeping. This fix was easy with the hose long enough to trim and refit, so back on the road in 20 mins.

Today’s drive was same with very unmaintained road that seems to be the standard in the back blocks of India. We lost height all day and finished the drive to Imphal on a flattish plain. Once we reach the flatter country the road surface improved so it looked like we make town before dark.


Pit Stop 2

25ks from town we got this bad vibration under he car so pulled up to check the tyres and all good so drove on a bit only to have to stop in the middle of a little town as things were deteriorating. Upon further research I discovered that the drive shaft bolts we had done up at Paro during the diff fix had come loose and broken all bar one.

My heart goes through my feet as I think, “I don’t think I have packed any of those”. Digging to the bottom of the rear compartment low and behold I had out thought myself and packed 2 sets. My heart jumps back to chest and I start the repair using Loctite this time.

By this time we have a crowd of 100+ watching the process and amazed at Penny. Julie asks what she can do to help and my reply is “Keep an eye on everything, look after crowd control and apply the hand brake when needed while I get under the car and fit the new bolts”.

About an hour later we pack up and bid farewell to the crowd of onlookers.

The last 30ks into Imphal was smoothish and didn’t require massive pothole dodging. The delay did however mean we entered town in the dark and at peak hour. It was quite an exercise to keep up with the guide and manneuvrer through the main roundabout with all the traffic chaos.

Today is off to the border and into Myanmar to continue the adventure.

Today is off to the border and into Myanmar to continue the adventure.